VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

We can tell customers, “Here's your server, it's already provisioned and ready for your app."


What is our primary use case?

We are using it to offer self-service capabilities to our customers, a self-service portal.

How has it helped my organization?

One of the huge benefits, of course, is that it gives direct control to the customer. They have a direct knowledge of what they're using. They know the resources that they're taking advantage of and how much it's actually costing them to take stuff. 

It's helping our operations actually get closer to our applications team because they're now starting to build automation around the information they get from the operations teams; when they build blueprints, for instance. So they're able to build these bigger application stacks and there's a better understanding, from both sides, of what's required.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see easier custom components for it - that would be the best way I could word it. It's more like custom items for it.

Also, the authentication piece could always use some work. They should make it a little bit more dynamic, a little bit easier to deal with large-scale AD deployments. They need to make it a little more enterprise-ready. That is the one thing that kills us. I hate harping on the authentication issue, but it is huge.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have run into some issues with stability. Primarily, some of the components seem to go out of whack with each other sometimes but, for the most part, it's been stable. It's just that when it fails, to be honest, it seems to fail spectacularly. It has to do heavily with the authentication portion of it. That is one of our biggest issues with it.

Beyond that, vRO can get out of sync with vRA. We've run into that every once in a while. But it's very rare, compared to the authentication problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems to scale well. We haven't really had too many problems. There have been a couple of issues, but they have mainly been with our external systems, not the solution itself. It has been able to handle the churn workload.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been really good. There have been a couple of issues, but they've been fixed, mostly in an update or a hotfix. And they've been willing to jump on calls almost immediately with us.

Which solutions did we use previously?

The solution we were using, technically, was ServiceNow but it wasn't as good for our environment. It was very good at creating small cookie-cutter, but not for large-scale.

When looking for a vendor the most important thing is support. Absolutely. If I don't understand the product, I need to make sure I can get an answer as quickly as possible.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. Everything was connected. There were little "gotchas" here and there, but either they were easy to resolve with tech support or the documentation usually had some comments about them.

What was our ROI?

We have already seen the return on it. We've been able to cut down the cost, the time dealing with the back and forth between customers. We can say, “I've got your server, now you can do this,” or, “Here's your server, it's already been provisioned and ready to go for your app."

What other advice do I have?

Make sure you think out the entirety of your deployment because it's hard to change components after the fact. Make sure that the initial deployment is good. We got that from VMware. They were very good at understanding the size of the environment and they tried to scale it for that environment.

I would rate this solution at about eight out of 10. It has been good but, as I said, there are some faults. Overall, it has performed phenomenally and the support behind it has made it absolutely useful.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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