VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Enables us to pre-install the applications users have selected, when we deploy VMs

What is our primary use case?

We use it to deploy virtual machines in our traditional VMware environment. We don't use it as a front-end for our customers but it works fine for us, on the back-end.

How has it helped my organization?

We can use some of its functionality to avoid having to write custom code for the placement of virtual machines. That is the main way we get use out of it. Also, the deployment time is less than it was before. It's all automated, it's quicker than when it was done by hand.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the automation of the deployment of the whole machine.

We also use it to pre-install the applications that the people selected when they ordered the machine, so they get a fully functional machine.

What needs improvement?

In terms of usability, It has had its challenges. It requires a lot of custom code to integrate into our environment. It can take a little while to get it to do what we want, takes some code instead of having built-in functionality. Part it is how we use it. It would be a lot easier to use in a greenfield scenario versus brownfield, which is the way we are using it.

I would also like to see them streamline the install. It's split between Windows and Linux appliances, and it would be easier if it was all appliances. I think they're going that way.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is pretty good now; previous versions, not so much, but it has improved. In earlier versions, we had issues with crashes, but the latest version has been much better.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not had any problems with scalability. We're not pushing the boundaries on the number of deployments with it, but no issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been good. We have MCS, the mission-critical support, and they've been good. The occasions when it is taking a while to get back to us is when the technical support person needs to contact engineering. That handoff between engineering and support takes some time, at times.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We had a little homegrown thing but that doesn't really count.

When selecting a vendor, if we already have an established relationship with the vendor, it's easier than going to a new vendor and establishing a new relationship.

How was the initial setup?

Setup in the previous version was not so straightforward. They have made big improvements in the later versions. The first one was a pain but the new one is fine. A couple of versions back, they added an automated install that did not exist in the earlier versions that we deployed.

Upgrading took a little while because we did a side-by-side upgrade. There was a code migration, all our custom code needed to be migrated, so it took a little bit of work. But, overall, it was fine.

What was our ROI?

Time savings are our ROI, the time to deploy machines. I haven't done any studies on the exact ROI, but saving time is always good.

What other advice do I have?

Right now, it works for what we use it for. We're not using all its features, but the pieces that we use work fine.

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