vCenter Orchestrator Configuration Element Attribute Values Missing After Import.

When importing a package on a vCenter Orchestrator (vCO) server in my lab I noticed that the values of the attributes inside the Configuration Elements (CE) were missing. At first I thought that it was because of the different version of vCO. (I exported the package as a backup from a vCO 4.2.1 and imported it into a 5.1 vCO server), but I witnessed the same behavior when importing the package to vCO 4.2.1.

When searching the web for this phenomenon I couldn’t find any information describing this behavior until I caught eye on a blog post on the VMware vCenter Orchestrator blog: http://blogs.vmware.com/orchestrator/2012/02/configuration-elements-revisited.html

Somewhat hidden in the bottom text of the article the difference between exporting a single Configuration Element and exporting a Configuration Element as part of a package is explained:

Nevertheless there is a small difference with exporting a single configuration element, the difference is that in that case the values of the attributes are not exported! In another words, if you import a package containing a configuration element into another vCO, the configuration element attribute values are not set.

I was not aware of this and it kind of makes sense if you use Configuration Elements solely to hold vCO server specific information. But in my case, Configuration Elements have been used to store global information about the environment.

Also I’ve been saving the exported package as an extra kind of backup, next to the database backup, but actually being useless for the CE’s as I’ve discovered now.

The Configuration Element Content

Let’s have a closer look at the exported packages. First have a look at the Configuration Element when exported as a single configuration item. The CE is exported as an XML file. From the XML you see that the exported CE is called ‘CE1’ with three attributes called ‘att0’, ‘att1’ and ‘att2’. The <value> tag contains the value of each of the attributes. For instance attribute ‘att0’ is of type ‘string’ and has a value of “This is a Test”.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" standalone="yes"?>
<config-element id="828080808080808080808080808080808180808001359849118679aebf2a6a5a5"  version="0.0.0" >
<display-name><![CDATA[CE1]]></display-name>
<atts>
<att name='att0' type='string' read-only='false' ><value encoded='n'><![CDATA[This is a Test]]></value>
<description><![CDATA[att0_desc]]></description>
</att>
<att name='att1' type='boolean' read-only='false' ><description><![CDATA[att1_desc]]></description>
</att>
<att name='att2' type='number' read-only='false' ><value encoded='n'><![CDATA[123.0]]></value>
<description><![CDATA[att2_desc]]></description>
</att>
</atts>
</config-element>

When we look at the same Configuration Element when exported as part of an Orchestrator package, you see that the <value> tag is omitted from the XML content.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1" standalone="yes"?>
<config-element id="828080808080808080808080808080808180808001359849118679aebf2a6a5a5"  version="0.0.0" >
<display-name><![CDATA[CE1]]></display-name>
<atts>
<att name='att0' type='string' read-only='false' ><description><![CDATA[att0_desc]]></description>
</att>
<att name='att1' type='boolean' read-only='false' ><description><![CDATA[att1_desc]]></description>
</att>
<att name='att2' type='number' read-only='false' ><description><![CDATA[att2_desc]]></description>
</att>
</atts>
</config-element>

Work Arounds

To work around this behavior of vCenter Orchestrator, I found two options:

  1. Export all Configuration Elements independently
  2. Synchronize the package to the server using the vCO synchronization option.

Option1: Export

When exporting a single Configuration Element, the values are exported as shown earlier in this post. Export all Configuration Elements separately as a single exported configuration item. Use this option when you want to create a backup or when there’s no network connectivity to the destination vCO server.

Option2: Synchronize

Use this option when you have network connectivity to your destination vCO server. This is the easiest and recommended option to copy content from one server to the other.

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