VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Templates enable me to streamline the initial deployment of systems

What is our primary use case?

Everything that takes away from my having to do my own tasks is a very big plus. With Automation and a lot of the components we are looking at right now, I will be able to template everything out and streamline the process, which is going to save me a lot of time. My main focus is COOP sites and disaster recovery, so automating those makes my job easy.

How has it helped my organization?

It decreases a lot of manual labor involved in the initial deployment of systems. Instead of my having to go deploy a template and join it to the domain and add software to it, all that is pre-staged once and never done again.

It has also increased the infrastructure agility a lot. A perfect example is that I use Veeam Backup, so I deploy additional proxies whenever our network changes. I don't have to go out and sign in to the vSphere host because I have a different location. I can add additional resources from one location to my disaster recovery management console.

What is most valuable?

I find the system to be intuitive and user-friendly. In general, I'm quite happy with the entire setup. Once you configure the system, navigating the portal is pretty simple. They use a lot of the vSphere UI interface structure so it's intuitive, especially if you have used anything vSphere-related before.

What needs improvement?

I don't know if it can integrate with vRealize or vROps in order to already manage what has been done. Right now I'm very big into vROps to pull reports on all my VMs. I don't know if that capability is there already, but if I could integrate it more, if they went hand-in-hand, it would be easy. Not only could I deploy everything in one place, but I could go to another place just to pull my reports on what has been done.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I'm happy so far, I haven't had any stability issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm extremely happy with the scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support, but not for vRA. I used it to help with reverse-engineering my vSphere vCSA because it completely crashed and both sectors were corrupted and I needed to get it back. They were helpful.

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

We didn't have a solution that does exactly the same. For other systems, we use Chef, but I know that that is more for the application side of things. We haven't used anything like this.

What's important when looking for a vendor, for me, is that they take their time to actually see what we have and what we are trying to do, before pushing an agenda. If they could see what we have and create a design out of that, before suggesting anything else, that would make me want to work with that vendor more because then I would know that they are not pushing something, that they are giving me what is better for me.

How was the initial setup?

Once I understood what it was trying to do, and what it was requesting of me, it was simple. But originally, it took me by surprise. I was not used to the setup yet. One of my main issues was having multiple SSL domains. It took me a while to see how those play a part.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure that you know what your infrastructure looks like before you start.

I rate this solution at eight out of ten, with potential to grow. I still have to learn a lot more about it. Once I learn some of the additional features and add-ons that  I can implement, I think it will increase.

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