Hello Automaters!

I’m delighted to introduce Version 10 of RES ONE Automation – part of the RES ONE Enterprise family. There’s a lot of great information here on new features, so feel free to skip to the detailed section from the quick menu below or keep reading to see everything we’ve added to this exciting new release of RES ONE Automation.

New Licensing Model

At RES, we continue to hear from customers and partners that Automation is our secret sauce. Once customers get a taste they want more, and to cater to that appetite, we are now introducing a gigantic licensing model. This effectively enables enterprises to stop counting desktops or servers to ensure license compliance. Now, one license based on organizational size covers the entire data center and all desktops. Now, a single SKU can cater to all your company’s Automation needs!

This is an exciting step, and for me. it really proves RES has a great relationship with our partners and customers – we’re all in this together and for the long term.

Please contact your RES Authorized Partner for more information about the new RES ONE Automation site licensing options!

Agent+

Agent+ is the new Windows Agent, which we have built from the ground up using the latest and greatest coding language, enabling us to be more agile, helping us to leverage resources and significantly cutting the resource overheads.

It is important to note that for existing customers, the upgrade to Agent+ is driven by you, but as you would expect from RES, we made it super easy and intuitive. So how do we do that? Well, just select the devices that you’d like to migrate from the legacy windows agent to the new Agent+ in exactly the same way as if you are deploying a brand new Agent…and leave the rest to us!

We will:

  • Pause the old Agent
  • Install the new Agent+ alongside
  • Transfer all the information from the old Agent to the new one
  • Start the new Agent+ running
  • Delete the old Agent installation

The awesome thing about working in this way is that we smoothly ‘hand over’ from the old Agent to new. Your Audits and Logs are unaffected, as the new Agent+ assumes the identity of the old one 100%. You will not end up with orphaned machines out on your network, as there is always an Agent installed on the device.

Letting you do the migrations yourself was requested by several customers, as you want to be in control of the migration process yourself, rather than let us auto-update. That means you can choose to migrate a batch at a time, choosing blocks of machine names, or by sites, teams, roles etc…Of course we still support the old Agent, but to be clear, it is absolutely our intention to End-of-Life it one year from now, as we are so convinced that the new Agent+ brings so many more benefits to the party!

When you deploy the Agent from the Console now, you are actually pushing out the new Agent+. There are now two flavors of Agent+: 32-bit and native 64-bit, which is a change from the old one. We will do the work for you, and install the appropriate version depending on the OS type you have installed.

When you go to the Components section of the Console, you’ll still see the old Agent listed alongside the two Agent+ versions. And indeed, you’re still permitted to Save the component in the same way as you always could. In fact, this is the only way now to do a new deployment of the old Agent!

When you’re in the Console, if you choose the Repair option, we will not Migrate you to Agent+ if it is the old Agent that’s broken. So to be clear, a repair of Agent will maintain Agent, whereas a Repair of Agent+ will fix the Agent+ (32-bit or 64-bit) that you have installed. Again, we’re happy to provide this functionality at the request of our customers!

The new Agent+ offers a huge improvement to how we communicate. You’ll see under the Dispatcher Connections that we have Introduced Push along side the original Poll mechanism. Back in the good old days, our Agent used to check in at regular intervals with the Dispatcher to see if there were any new Jobs to pick up and run with. For very large environments, this could mean quite a lot of network chat, and although the bandwidth consumed was absolutely miniscule, we were of the opinion that if we were to start again, we’d make some optimizations. So that’s exactly what we did! Agent+ can make use of Dispatcher push communication

We use a technology called SignalR which allows for bi-directional communication between Dispatcher and Agent+. Dispatchers can now push content to connected Agent+’s instantly, once available. This requires use of an additional port (which is 3162 by default, but can be modified of course). The polling on port 3163 is still there as a fallback, and if, for whatever reason, the Dispatcher Push is not getting through, then the Agent+ will automatically revert to working in the original way.

Those working in bandwidth sensitive environments (or those that have to pay by the byte) have commented that there are significant advantages and savings for them!

One thing to be aware of with the introduction of Agent+ is the fact that you can no longer create Exchange 2003 or 2007 mailboxes.

I have asked several Partners and Customers whether or not this will be a problem, and was assured by everyone that these very much Legacy versions of Exchange are no longer in use.

If anyone does have a need to create legacy exchange mailboxes, please use the multitude of scripts available through TechNet to assist you. Of course you can use RES ONE Automation to execute your scripts with ease!

The very best thing about introducing Agent+ for me is all the exciting new things we will be able to do in the future. Agent+ provides a solid, modern and efficient foundation to build on.

Management Portal

Another very exciting addition to RES ONE Automation Version 10 is the introduction of the new Management Portal. What you’re seeing in Version 10 marks the first phase of the project for the team. Now when you launch our newly designed Installer, you will see an extra option for RES ONE Management Portal.

This requires Microsoft IIS, and the installation follows the same simple path that you are used to, having installed RES ONE Identity Director (formerly known as RES ONE Service Store).

Once installed, you can log in using your native Automation account or Active Directory Username and Password, just as you do with the normal Console. When you log in, you’ll see something that is hopefully familiar to you straight away, as we’ve maintained the look and feel of RES ONE Identity Director, making it clear that the two solutions are from the same family! Actually, we are also launching the first phase of the Management Portal for RES ONE Workspace too, but I’ll leave my colleagues Pete Downing and Martin Lako to talk about that!

If you look at old versus new, you’ll see that we have given you the ability to Manage and Schedule your Run Books, Projects and Modules in this release.

The feedback from our Early Adopters during the test phase has been astoundingly positive, and I’d like to take this opportunity to call out our amazing Early Adopters and RSVPs for all the feedback, help and guidance you’ve provided as we have been building this out. Without your assistance, we wouldn’t have the polished product that you’re seeing today!

Of course, our work here isn’t done, and in future updates, you’ll see more and more functionality being added to the new Management Portal. So as I’ve said already, exciting times ahead!

API

And with a new Management Portal comes a brand new API!!! Again something our community has been asking for is a REST API. Don’t worry, the old SOAP API is not going away, however all new development and functionality will be built on the REST API from now on. REST is much more intuitive for our partners and customers to use, plus we added a lot of examples and documentation making it even easier for you to adopt and embrace. We chose to leverage SWAGGER, just as we do with RES ONE Identity Director, so you can sample, test and read about the API as you go along, making it far easier to integrate into your plans now and into the future!

You can access the new API by going to the Setup => Environment section, and clicking EXPLORE under the Public API. Alternatively type /swagger after the Automation URL in your address bar.

This will take you into the swagger screen where you can see the command and calls available, plus read all about how to implement it.

We added an API key function too, which we will expand on in the future. As of today, under Setup => Environment, you can enable the API key and enter your top secret code.

With an API key enabled, in the API swagger screen, you will then need to type in your key under Authorization in order for the function to be run successfully. At the moment, it is one key for everything, but as I say, we will continue to build this out, as we add more and more functionality in to the new API.

Prerequisites

We  made a change to the perquisites when you install RES ONE Automation. We are working to standardize prerequisites across all RES products and to that end we have standardized Operating System minimum requirements which are now:

Certainly when we polled our community, this was not an issue at all with anyone we asked. The legacy Agent will still support Server 2003 and Windows XP, but don’t forget that we want to End-of-Life that Agent one year from now, so it’s important that we help you move away from those legacy operating systems as soon as possible.

The other thing we have standardized across our products is the version of the .NET framework that we need. We are now looking for .NET framework 4.5.2 across all RES products. Again, we checked with Customers and Partners in our Early Adopter Program and the signals were good! Of course, as you’ve come to expect from RES, we like to hold your hand as much as possible as you are going through these upgrades and changes to help de-risk your upgrades and ensure that the journey is smooth. So, a couple of checks are in place as you go through an upgrade of an existing installation.

If none of your machines have .NET framework 4.5.2 installed, we tell you so, and you will not be allowed to run the upgrade pack, until you go ahead and upgrade the .NET framework on your machines (by the way, may I suggest you use a cool product called RES ONE Automation to install your software 😉).

If it is just a one-off machine on the network that doesn’t meet the .NET framework requirements, you can check the box to say that you want to continue with the upgrade anyway. We strongly recommend that as soon as your upgrade has completed that you go back and install the .NET framework 4.5.2 on that machine!

Server 2016

The new Agent+ supports Microsoft Server 2016 (note that Microsoft are only shipping this Operating System as a 64-bit distribution). Changes have been implemented in Team rules and Conditions to achieve this. 

This includes the following editions:

  • Datacenter
  • Standard
  • Essentials

Please note that the Microsoft Windows Nano Server is not supported.

SQL 2016

In RES ONE Automation Version 10, we are now officially supporting Microsoft SQL 2016 (note, SQL is now 64-bit only).

Building Blocks

A couple of changes that have been requested by our community through our Ideation platform UserVoice, accessible through the RES Success Center:

  1. When creating a Building Block of items that includes many Variables in different categories, the used Variables and related categories are exported to the XML file.
  • When importing this Building Block into your RES ONE Automation environment, the category is now retained and the Variables are placed directly in the related category. This saves a lot of manual work afterwards.
  1. Password values are removed when used in Variables.
  • When creating a Building Block that includes Variables of the type Password and Credentials, the values for the passwords in these Variables are removed.

Conditions

Support for parameters and Variables in operand when using “File/Folder Operations“

  • When adding a condition expression based on File Version, File Exists or Folder Exists, it is now possible to use parameters and global Variables as an operand.

TLS

RES ONE Automation now supports TLS v1.1 and TLS v1.2.

  • We are now supporting TLS 1 and TLS 1.2 when protocol encryption is enabled to secure communication between the Datastore and the components.

Global Setting SSL

We added an option to enable SSL for “WebAPI state“.

  • The Global Setting “WebAPI state” has been enhanced with the option “SSL enabled”.
  • In previous versions, you needed to manually configure SSL via the configuration file on the Dispatcher which meant that when upgrading or repairing the Dispatchers, the configuration file was overwritten.
  • You can now set the SSL configuration via the Console and persist these settings on upgrade or repair.



RES ONE Identity Director Integration

We have enhanced our license model for the additional licenses with RES ONE Identity Director integration!

  • To support the new Modules (Access and Identity) in RES ONE Identity Director and RES ONE Security, the license modelin RES ONE Automation has been enhanced.
  • when you enable the integration with RES ONE Identity Director, you will receive 12 (complimentary) license points!

Active Directory Task and Query

As requested by our community, we have extended some of the User Properties in Advanced category.

  • When configuring the Tasks Manage and Query Active Directory User and selecting User Properties, new user attributes are available in the Advanced category.
  • Examples include:
    • Employee ID
    • Manager
    • Distinguished Name

Service Properties Task

There is now a new option “Automatic (Delayed)” for Service Startup Type.

  • For the Tasks Service Properties (Manage, Query), a new option for the Service Startup Type (or Start Mode) has been introduced: Automatic (Delayed Start).
  • This is not compatible with older operating systems that do not support this startup type, for example if you are running Windows XP with the old Automation Agent, it will revert to standard Automatic instead.

RES Reporting

Reporting is a new and exciting addition across RES Products, and some new Reports in RES ONE Automation mark the start of an exciting time for us. The RES Reporting components ship with the RES ONE Enterprise installer, and are accessible through the new Management Portal only.

Enable Reporting in the Setup => Reporting section, and when you refresh your page, you will see a new Reporting section accessible in the left sidebar.

This is the first of many sets of Reports that will be available from RES, but if there are any specific reports that you want to see, please be sure to ask us about them via the UserVoice ideation platform accessible through the RES Success Center – we are very much looking for your input on this one!

RES Identity Broker

Also part of the RES ONE Enterprise installer comes RES Identity Broker. This should not be confused with RES ONE Identity Director. Identity Broker is a tool that
will provide you with Single Sign On capabilities across RES Products.

With this installed, you will be able to use RES ONE Identity Director, RES ONE Workspace and RES ONE Automation Management Portals together with our exciting new Reporting capabilities, and only have to put your Username and Password in once.

Identity Broker is an optional component right now, but if you are using more than one RES product, I strongly recommend that you get it installed, as your colleagues
with thank you for it!!!

RES ONE Enterprise

The final thing on my list of exciting news to share with you are the updates to the RES ONE Enterprise Console. This was admittedly a bit of a novelty in previous releases, but now, since we are adding new Management Portals to our products, it’s become a really useful tool! Once again, it is part of the RES ONE Enterprise installer, and it will provide you with a single pane of glass to access both the rich Consoles for RES ONE Workspace and RES ONE Automation, plus the new Management Portals for RES ONE Identity Director, RES ONE Automation, RES ONE Workspace, RES Reporting and RES Identity Broker…no need to remember all those new URLs that you are setting up as you upgrade all the components across your infrastructure to RES ONE Enterprise Version 10!

Final Thoughts

As I said at the start of this blog, this is a really important release of RES ONE Automation, and it marks the beginning of some really exciting times ahead. We would not have been able to do this without all the valuable feedback that I’ve had from such an amazing and loyal community – so many thanks go to our RES Valued Professionals (RSVPs) as well as the Early Adopters that signed up to help test our exciting new products and technologies. I would also like to thank my ‘A-team’ – the Developers, Web Developers, Testers, Engineers, Document Writers and UX Designers whom with expertise and dogged determination have produced an amazing release that we can all be truly proud of.

Keep Automating, and stay tuned for more exciting advancements with RES ONE Automation!

*Following the launch of RES ONE Enterprise on February 21, 2017, RES ONE Service Store is now RES ONE Identity Director and RES ONE Suite is now RES ONE Enterprise.