In its ongoing effort to automate the management of private and public clouds, VMware has integrated Microsoft's Active Directory with its vCenter Orchestrator tool, the company said.

"Regardless of the tools or number of staff available in an IT organisation, there's only one kind of magic that can scale to meet the demand and economics of cloud computing: Automation," wrote Thomas Corfmat, senior product manager at VMware, in a recent blog.

The product VMware hopes IT departments will use to automate management tasks is vCenter Orchestrator, which offers a graphical interface to create automated workflows. The goal is to enable the VMware cloud stack to integrate with a customer's environment and processes, in order to reduce their costs and allow them to work faster, according to Corfmat.

The latest addition is the VMware vCenter Orchestrator Plug-in for Microsoft Active Directory, which allows the IT department to automate the management of directory services tasks.

The plug-in is compatible with Active Directory 2003 and 2008. It comes with 34 pre-built workflows, including the ability to create a user in an organisational unit and set a password. That may sound like a basic task, but it is a very important management task, and automating it mitigates the risk for human errors, said Fredrik Rynger, territory manager at VMware.

With the pre-built workflows users can create more extensive and customised ones, according to VMware.

Besides Active Directory, there are also plug-ins for VMware's Cloud Director and Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) Manager. More is on the way. One useful addition would be the ability to integrate with storage systems, Rynger said.

VCenter Orchestrator is included in VMware's vCenter Server and still a fairly unknown part of the company's management portfolio. Many IT departments still rely on scripting for automating management tasks, but as systems grow bigger that is starting to change, according to Rynger.

VMware vCenter Orchestrator is still a work in progress. VMware is aware that automation will not become pervasive until it can be deployed in minutes rather than hours or days, Corfmat wrote. But the company is working on making that possible, he said.