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I have been meaning to take a look at Octoblu for some time now but due to other commitments and workload I just have not had the time. Over the past few days I have started to delve into the world of IoT and Octoblu and I have to say – I am very very impressed. The possibilities here if you are willing to think outside the box are endless!
In this article I will walk you through setting up an Octoblu flow to connect to your internal Citrix NetScaler and add a vServer to your inventory. I know that this is not something that you would do too often and it may seem like overkill but, if you think about it like this:
Scenario – You have a load balanced Citrix StoreFront cluster serving your remote users. There is a massive storm forecast by the weather people. Octoblu can repeatedly check the weather and when it picks up snow coming it can automatically add some servers to your Service Group on your NetScaler to cater for the extra users that you will no doubt get! Now that is cool – load scaling based on real time weather reports!
I will get that working once I get more involved with Octoblu but baby steps. Lets first get Octoblu to add a new Server to our NetScaler using my Apple Watch.
First, head over to https://app.octoblu.com/login and log in. If you dont have an account then you will need to set one up.
Once logged in you will be presented with your dashboard. I have nothing configured on my account just yet.
The first thing you will need to do is add the NetScaler as a thing. Things are how Octoblu refer to, well things, that you can connect to!
Select All Things and scroll down until you see Octoblu Official Connectors
Select NetScaler – this will begin the process of creating your NetScaler Meshblu Connector
Select the latest version and then download the installer that is relevant to the operating system you will be installing the connector on.
Once you have downloaded the ZIP file copy it to your server that will run the Meshblu connector.
NOTE: I have put this into a folder for all Meshblu connectors then a folder for what the connector is going to do. This is just so that I can easily identify what connectors are doing what job as you will end up with more than one connector on the same server and the naming of the folders is pretty generic.
Right click to extract the Connector Installer
Click on extract all.
NOTE: DON’T change the folder path here or the installer will fail
Once extracted run the MeshbluConnnectorInstaller
Click Begin Install
Let it download and install all the components
Once done close the installer window.
If you want to check that the installer has worked, go into services on the server and you should see a Meshblu service installed and running
Switch back to the Octoblu web portal and click on Configure Thing
Give the NetScaler a reasonable name, add your admin username and password and put in the endpoint address for the NetScaler. You will need to put the HTTP or HTTPS in here – leaving it out will cause the flow to fail (Flows are how Octoblu refer to running things in their system)
Click on save and when you navigate to “My Things” you should see your NetScaler listed in there
Switch over to the Flows menu and click on Add New Flow (+)
Over on the right under flow inspector give the flow a name and description
Now below that you will see a menu for tools. Locate the Trigger item and drag it over to the left hand side of the screen
A trigger is what you will use to trigger the flow
Give the trigger a meaningful name as this will be what appears in your iOS or Apple Watch App
Next switch to Things and locate your new NetScaler from the list. Drag this over to the left hand side of the screen as well
Under Thing Inspector give this step a meaningful name, select Create Server from the drop down list and enter the details of the Server you want added to the NetScaler
Now in the left hand window drag the flow from the Trigger to the NetScaler Thing creating a link between the items
Next you want to add a Message and e-mail thing to the window. Configure both of them as shown below and link the NetScaler Thing to the e-mail and message Thing.
NOTE: I have added a debug thing here to see if the NetScaler Thing is working as expected.
On the right click to update the permissions for the flow
Click the Play icon to publish the flow
Now – onto the fun part. I have downloaded the Blu app for my iPhone and also added the application to my Apple Watch.
If I open the Apple Watch app you can see that my Flows are listed there. Press Add vServer (The trigger name) on your Apple Watch
Watch it Fire
Then once done it will say Triggered
This has executed the Octoblu Flow and should have added a Server to my NetScaler
I instantly get a text telling me that a new Server has been added to my NetScaler
If I check my in-box there is also an e-mail waiting for me
Finally checking on the NetScaler you can see that I have a new server created by Octoblu
That’s it – hopefully this will give you a slight peek into how Octoblu can change the way you think about automation, IoT and the Citrix product stack. There are so many possibilities with this combination, you just have to dream up the flow!
One thing I do want to say is the Octoblu community seems to be on par with the CUGC community. I was recently chatting to some guys about the powershell Meshblu connector not working as it should. This was picked up and resolved be the community and Octoblu teams within 24 hours! Now that is great service and how more people should think about listening to their users!
That’s it for now.