Updated: May 13, 2016

Applies To: System Center 2012 SP1 - Orchestrator, System Center 2012 - Orchestrator, System Center 2012 R2 Orchestrator

When building runbooks in System Center 2012 - Orchestrator, some settings are the same across activities. Variables let you specify a value that activities use in any runbook.


The access permissions for variables can be modified, but the runbook server does not enforce these permissions.


Be aware that in Orchestrator, variables that reference system variables, for example %ProgramFiles%, return values from a 32-bit runtime environment. This is because Orchestrator is a 32-bit application.


Orchestrator does not support moving multiple variables with multiple-selection. To move more than one variable to another folder, you must move each variable individually.

Use the following procedures to create, insert, and organize variables.

To create a variable

  1. In the Connections pane in the Runbook Designer, expand the Global Settings folder, and then click the Variables folder.

  2. Right-click the Variables folder or a subfolder of the Variables folder to select New, and then click Variable to open the New Variable dialog box.

  3. In the Name box, type a name for the variable.

  4. In the Description box, type a description that explains the purpose of the variable.

  5. In the Value box, type the value of the variable. This value replaces the placeholder in those activities where the variable is inserted.

  6. If you want the variable to be encrypted (for example, to store a password for use in other runbook activities), select the Encrypted Variable check box.

    For more information about best practices for using encrypted variables, see Orchestrator Data Encryption.

  7. Click Finish.


System Center 2012 - Orchestrator does not let you combine an encrypted variable with plain text as a parameter value in a runbook.

To insert a variable in an activity

  1. Right-click the applicable activity from your runbook to select Properties, and then click the Details tab to open the activities properties dialog box.

  2. In a text box, to open a menu, right-click to select Subscribe, and then click Variable to open the Select a Variable dialog box.

  3. Select the variable name, and then click OK.

    A placeholder {variable} is inserted next to the computer name in the Computer box.

    When the activity runs, the placeholder is replaced with the value of the variable.

To organize variables

  1. You can group variables into folders to organize them. To create a folder, right-click the Variables folder to select New, and then click Folder.

  2. To move a variable to a different folder, right-click the variable, and then click Move to open the Select a Folder dialog box.

  3. Select the destination folder, and then click OK. The variable is moved to the new folder location.

Special Variables

You can specify special formats of variables to provide dynamic information to your runbooks. Specify the value of the variable to invoke this behavior.

NOW(): When the variable is resolved, it is set to the current date and time. You can pass arguments to this function to return specific portions of the date or time. For example, NOW(hour) returns the current hour. The following are the valid arguments for the NOW() function: day, dayofweek, dayofyear, month, year, hour, minute, second, millisecond.

%ENVVAR%: This variable returns the value of the environment variable between the percent (%) symbols. The environment variable is based on the runbook server computer where the runbook is running, and it is not case-sensitive. All system variables can be resolved. Any user variables are resolved in the context of the service account on the runbook server. If the environment variable does not exist, the text specified within the variable is returned as-is (that is, if you type %ENVVAR% and no environment variable named ENVVAR exists, the text ‘%ENVVAR%’ is returned).

See Also

Data Manipulation