VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Helps us push server provision automation, saving us significant time

What is our primary use case?

We use it to push out automation for all of our servers, not only to developers who are requesting what we call "cattle" - they want hundreds of servers to be able to test - but also to start getting away from the "onesie, twosie" builds, to save us more time on deploying so we can work on other projects.

How has it helped my organization?

Time savings. It takes about an hour less for me to deploy a VM using automation then it would if I had to do it manually.

It does a lot of things automatically that would take our group, when we're already strapped for time, a lot of time to go through and clean stuff out of databases and the like.

Overall, it has helped to reduce the time it takes to troubleshoot issues and improved the quality of service to users.

What is most valuable?

To manage when VMs aren't being used, we have it set up so that it will auto-destroy them after a certain amount of time, obviously with permission from the user who owns it. 

What needs improvement?

I want to see HTML 5. I want to get rid of JavaScript. First off, I know nothing about JavaScript. That doesn't mean I'm going to know anything better about HTML 5, but I do know that we have a lot of issues with Java crashing when we're using vCenter. I obviously don't want that to happen with the vRealize Automation and Orchestrator side.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far it's very stable. We haven't had any crashes, any issues with it. The problems that we have had have been in configuring things because we're already in the last stage where we're accepting the consultant's work. So we're finding little things here and there.

But otherwise, generally, the system has been up. We haven't had any downtime with it, other than the stuff that needs to be configured a little better.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It should be scalable. We have left room for it to be scalable. But right now we have a target area that we have it set at, and it's perfectly set that way.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I was doing it by hand.

How was the initial setup?

The end-user portion is user-friendly. When you're actually building it, it's a little complicated in setting it up.

For example, in vRealize Automation, there are a lot of different areas where you have to go in and set up key components that have to link to other areas. We had a consultant come in and build our system. If I had to do it on my own, I'd have been spending a couple of hours trying to figure it out. And whether it would work or not, obviously I'd be testing it. But once I actually get to know the product it would be a lot quicker.

What was our ROI?

I've seen ROI on my end because I've been able to deploy some VMs quicker which has left time for me to go into vRA and configure it a little better. We have not pushed it out to our developers yet, but that's coming soon.

What other advice do I have?

Absolutely go for it. I believe in it. I've seen and I've heard companies talk about how valuable it is. My only suggestion is, if you're strapped for time, get a consultant or some third-party or VMware Support to help you with the deployment. There are a lot of "gotchas" in there that we didn't know about and I'm glad we did go with a consulting company.

I give it a nine out of ten. I never really like giving something 100 percent because there's always room for improvement. I feel that it's a very solid system but there are little tweaks in there that could be done better.

For example, HTML 5, which I hear is coming. But also, to me, they should make it easier to figure stuff out. It's a little hard when you're trying to branch out and do it on your own. If the consultant goes away for a day and you're trying to figure things out, tooltips or some sort of help or some sort of highlighting of things that would give little tidbits indicating you need to link this to this over in this direction, etc; that would help out new people.

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