VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Self-service enables end-users to deploy their own machines with minimal training

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for developers to test code. Our Customer Care uses it to troubleshoot customer issues. We also have a training business unit and they deploy classes for customer training.

We've been using it for four years now. It performs well. It does the functions we need. We do have some issues from time to time. I wish there was a little bit of more maturity out of the product, but it is getting better with every release.

How has it helped my organization?

It has definitely increased speed of VM deployment. When a normal server-request would come in, it might take anywhere from three to four days to deploy. Now, within 15 minutes, they can click and have something up and running.

The IT support for developers is nice as well because they are able to manage the environment themselves.

What is most valuable?

Self-service: Letting the end-users deploy their own machines so the administrators are hands-off at that point.

The user-friendliness is seen in the minimal training that is required to get them up and running, to start deploying machines and accessing.

What needs improvement?

Something as simple as formatting the catalog in a different way would be helpful because there is no option for doing so. A lot of the contents for the virtual machine, blueprints that you can request, are hidden from view and there's no way to change the view.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It does go down from time to time. We have some issues with the appliances sometimes and we have to do reboots in the middle of the day. That affects the ability for them to deploy. Existing stuff that is already deployed, there's no downtime for that, but it does keep them from deploying at that time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have it deployed in a highly-available environment and scalability is nice because we just add another ESX host and then we are able to increase the capacity.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is helpful. Sometimes they can take a little while to get back to us, but for the most part, we end up finding a solution to cases.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using Lab Manager before but that was decommissioned so this was the next solution. We chose it because it did everything we needed it to do, it was the logical step from Lab Manager.

The criteria for the selection process included that we needed to have a self-service environment for our developers, that Customer Care be able to deploy machines, destroy machines, complete the entire VM lifecycle - and this does it.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is fairly complex, but we've been using it for a while so I'm pretty knowledgeable about it now. Upgrades are pretty straightforward. We had a lot of problems originally deploying it, with some certificate issues. We had an engagement with VMware so they were able to help us get a proof of concept environment set up as well. So that was helpful.

What other advice do I have?

It's a good solution. The deployment can be complex so I would recommend engaging professional services for setting up a proof of content environment to evaluate it.

I rate vRA at eight out of 10 because of issues with the stability of the appliances. But other than that, it's a pretty solid product. It does exactly what we need it to do and we are happy with it.

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