I just went through a two day training course on Cisco UCS Director APIs that covers both the REST APIs and Open Automation SDK. For people who don’t know UCS Director yet, it’s the orchestration engine Cisco acquired from a start-up company Cloupia more than one year ago. If you know VMware vCenter Orchestrator, UCS Director is something very similar but with more features on various hardware components for converged infrastructure. To fit into its unified data center strategy, Cisco re-branded it as UCS Director.
The UCS Director REST APIs is also known as north bound APIs. It is used for other applications to integrate and manage the UCSD server. The Open Automation SDK is the other direction – it’s for building connectors that would be managed by, or integrated with, UCSD. It’s also called south bound APIs.
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As its name suggests, UCS Director REST APIs is built using REST. The URL pattern is pretty straight forward. Response format wise, it support both XML and Json, which can be changed on the fly with different parameter in the URL. One of the most important features in the REST APIs is the workflow management and execution. That would allow you to integrate UCSD into your automation fabric. If you have a portal or ticketing system, for example, you can use the REST API to execute workflows.
The Open Automation SDK is used for partners to build modules connecting to other systems, be it a hardware, or software like VMware vSphere, MS Hyper-V. It’s 100% Java, which makes the development a lot easier than the VMware vCenter plugin (maybe it’s not a good comparison but they both involves Flex GUI and Java code). At the same time, the extensibility especially on GUI customization is less flexible. Having said that, the power of creating new tasks is limitless – you can do pretty much anything as long as Java allows. With a new task defined, you can use it in your workflow just as the built-in tasks. The related Open Automation API Guide can be found from Cisco site (PDF, epub).
In the future articles, I’ll detail these two APIs with samples and more tips. At the same time, you can try out UCS Director evaluation from here. As I emphasized many times, APIs for a management product is really a “view” to the product, which is the “model” if you think it in MVC (model-view-controller) concepts.