This segment of the tour introduces you to the core functionality of Itential Automation Platform (IAP), and since the word "automation" is built right into the product name, it only makes sense sense to jump in and create an automation using Automation Studio.
Automation Studio is where most of the magic happens in IAP. It's an all-in-one application suite where your automations are created and edited. Without Automation Studio, there's not much point to having IAP in your environment.
More information on Automation Studio can be found in the application user guide on the Itential docs site. Also be sure to check out the Automation Builder guide to learn more about arranging and connecting the tasks that go into building your automation.
Note: This tour guide uses the Gen2 Automation Builder canvas.
Create an Automation
Creating an automation using the Itential platform is simple:
From the IAP home screen, click the Automation Studio option in the navigation bar on the left. The Automation Studio page will open.
In the Quick Start card, click + CREATE AN AUTOMATION. A dialog box opens.
Select Automation from the "What would you like to create?" menu. The canvas selector displays.
Select the Generation 2 (Cloud) image to utilize the Gen2 Automation Builder.
Figure 1. Gen 2 Automation Canvas
For this tour, let's give your automation the unique name "EnlightenMe". Of note, the Automation Name is a required field.
Next, click the CREATE button. A relatively blank canvas will then display that contains a
Figure 2. EnlightenMe Automation Canvas
Add a Task to the Canvas
When an automation is first created, a New Node box is already provided. This is an empty node and needs to be populated with an actual task item. Click the New Node box on the canvas. On the right side of the screen, you are presented with a list of nodes/tasks that can be used in your automation. This area is called the Task Menu Sidebar. Itential refers to the items listed in the sidebar as tasks (or steps) that must be completed within your automation.
The docs.itential.com site contains a collection of Task Reference guides for the various tasks listed in the Task Menu Sidebar.
- In the Search box at the top of the Task Menu Sidebar, type "restCall" and press Enter on your keyboard.
- The search results should include a task named "restCall".
- Click the restCall task and observe that the "New Node" on the canvas has been replaced with the
REST Callnode/task. Also notice that the Task Menu Sidebar is now replaced with details and configuration options for the restCall task.
- Click the Save icon on the left side of the canvas to save your work.
Figure 3. Add REST Call
The REST Call task is a flexible task by which information can be obtained or published across available APIs in a network, including the Web.
Configure Reference Tasks and Reference Variables
Next, let's configure the variable information for your task. In our example, we'll leverage a simple, yet fun, "Chuck Norris" API.
If you already have experience using REST Calls in other systems or scripts, the variables available for the REST Call task will look familiar to you.
If not already selected, click the REST Call task on the canvas to view the details for the task in the right-side menu.
From the Details tab, change the value in the Summary field from "REST Call" to "FetchFact". This will help us distinquish this restCall task from others later on.
For the Description field, enter "Obtain A Chuck Norris Fact".
Figure 4. restCall Details Tab
Click the Variables tab. Tasks typically have Incoming and Outgoing variables. Depending on the tasks selected from the Task Menu Sidebar, the number of configuration variables in a task will vary. The restCall task pictured below has seven (7) Incoming variables that can be configured: uri, verb, user, password, headers, body, and responseHeaders.
Figure 5. restCall Variables Tab
For the uri variable, leave the Reference task as "Static". For the value, add this string (without quotes):
Click to expand the verb variable, and leave the Reference task as "Static". Change the "Value" from "None" by selecting the second radio button.
Select an item...field, select the
GEToption from the dropdown.
Figure 6. restCall GET Value
For this example, there is no need to populate the variables "user", "password", "headers", or "body".
For the responseHeaders variable, change the radio button "Value" from "None" to the pill slider option. Leave the slider in the left position so that the 'x' continues to appear.
Click the Save icon (upper-right of the canvas) to save your work.
Figure 7. restCall Save Icon
Notice that the REST Call task on the canvas now reads
Test Run Automations
To test the automation and see if it works:
- To the right of the Save icon is the Play icon (►). Click the blue play arrow. A modal window will open.
- For now, ignore the entries for "Description" and "Groups".
- Click the START button in the left corner of the modal.
- Within the modal window, there's a message link that says VIEW JOB. Once you click the link, a new tab opens in your browser. This new tab displays the Job Manager view of the running job you just started.
Viewing the Job
In the newly opened Job Manager tab, take a moment to study the page to see the different types of information available in this view. One item you should notice is the restCall task named "FetchFact".
Figure 8. Job Manager Details
Click the book icon that's located at the end (far-right) of the task. This will open the Task History for "FetchFact" and you will see tabs for Metrics, Incoming, and Outgoing.
The Metrics tab shows basic information about the task such as Start Time, End Time, Finish State, etc.
Figure 9. Metrics Tab
The Incoming tab shows information that was provided to the Task. In this example, you'll observe the variables (
verb, etc.) that were specified when you initially created the task. The Incoming tab is the ideal tab to reference when you're troubleshooting a task and need to verify if the task received the information you believe it should have. Essentially you can use this tab to check for incorrect input/faulty output (i.e., garbage in/garbage out).
Figure 10. Incoming Tab
The Outgoing tab shows the output that's produced by the task. In this example, the restCall task produces a
response variable that contains the API's response value, which is in the form of a JSON object. It's important to know that depending on the task's function, the output information will vary from task to task.
Figure 11. Outgoing Tab
Congratulations! In this section of the tour, you did the following:
- Created a Gen 2 automation that utilizes Tasks to obtain data from a remote system.
- Viewed the Job Manager page and the task results that were presented in the Outgoing tab of the Task History.
Next, we're going to explore how to pass data between tasks. Keep the Job Manager tab open for now and continue reading.