System Center 2012 SP1 – Orchestrator: Exporting and Importing Runbooks

With your System Center 2012 SP1 – Orchestrator environment deployed and in a tip-top healthy state, as you work on creating your runbooks, one of the best practices you should have implemented is to segregate your development, staging, and production Orchestrator installations into at least two different environments. To that end, today I’ll show you how to import and export runbooks for System Center 2012 SP1 – Orchestrator.

The concept is quite easy to implement, but it does introduce a few new questions that you will need to consider as you start to manage your new environments. The key challenge here is going to be around the actual process of taking the work you have developed in your development environment, and moving this to staging/QA, before finally migrating the runbooks to your live production environment. You may think you have to redraw your runbooks in each environment, but perhaps as you recall when you work on runbooks, you do not actually create a file as such, but instead you commit the runbooks directly to the database.

Runbook Designer: Import and Export

In the Runbook Designer, under the Actions menu you will find two extremely useful options listed: Import and Export. With these options you can quickly transfer the runbooks that you crafted in your development environment and move them to your staging environment.

Exporting Runbooks

To demonstrate this, expand the runbook tree to and then select a runbook folder that contains your solution (this should contain one or more runbooks and sub-folders). Then with this folder selected, navigate to the Action menu and chose Export.

System Center 2012 SP1 - Orchestrator: Export Runbook

A new Export dialog will be presented,

  • First you will notice that the selected Runbook Folder name is already defined for you, along with the box checked for Export the runbooks in sub folders.
  • The four global settings will be selected for exporting by default.
    • Note: If you are not using these global settings in your runbooks, then clear these check boxes, as this will reduce issues on the import if the settings already exist.
  • You will need to define the path that you wish to export the runbooks to in the field File Location.
  • Optionally, you can also choose to encrypt the runbooks you export and their settings if you choose to provide them and confirm a password.
  • Once you are satisfied, click on Finish to create the export, which will take a few moments to complete.

Easy, right? Now you can move to the new server where you plan to import your backup. (Or, if you really want, you can import it back on the same server to a complexly different folder).

Importing Runbooks

In a similar manner, on the Runbook Designer connected to the environment to which you wish to import, select the target parent folder, and then choose Import from the Action menu.

The Import dialog is very similar to the export dialog, with the addition of one important choice: the option to overwrite existing global configurations. You’ll need to consider this carefully, as this will have an impact on your target environment. As with the export options, only select the data you wish to import. Once you are ready, the wizard will begin the process of creating your new runbooks.

Check Newly Imported Runbooks

Finally, one of the last points that you should consider is the activities in your newly imported runbook. If you proceed to import a new runbook but the environment does not contain the same integration pack, or the same activities that are included in the runbook, or the original exporting server, then you are going to have a little problem… and, unfortunately, Orchestrator is not going to pop up and tell you this.

You should check each new runbook imported and make sure that the activities are using their correct icons. Normally you will see a generic icon displayed for the activity if the integration pack is not in place. You will need to of course rectify this problem, and then – yes, you guessed it – you’ll have to run the import again!