Q: Why does the Windows Azure System Center Orchestrator Integration Pack have only seven activities?

A: Integration packs provide activities specific to a certain product or group of tasks and typically  have tens of activities defined. Considering the scope of Windows Azure, it wouldn't be strange to expect a very large integration pack; however, after the Windows Azure integration pack is installed there are only seven fairly generic activities installed, which are more like groupings of activities rather than actual activities:

  • Azure Certificates
  • Azure Cloud Services
  • Azure Deployments
  • Azure Storage
  • Azure Virtual Machine Disks
  • Azure Virtual Machine Images
  • Azure Virtual Machines

The reason why there are few activities is that the Windows Azure Integration Pack is written using a new feature of the Orchestrator Software Development Kit (SDK) version 7.1, which was introduced in SP1 and called Cascading Dependencies.

Cascading Dependencies allow the properties for an activity to change based on other property selections within the activity. For example, in the screen shot below, you can see the Azure Virtual Machines activity, where the first property is the type of activity.

After you select an activity, you now have other properties to complete based on the selected first property. This is a great feature that will help simplify activities and actually make it more intuitive.