VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Significantly reduces the staff required to manage our environment

What is our primary use case?

We use vRealize Automation for monitoring and for some administration tasks. Anytime we do upgrades or patching, we just read the reports and it makes our lives easier.

How has it helped my organization?

Earlier we used to spend a whole day to collect all the information regarding upgrades or patches. When we introduced vRealize, it reduced the time to between 30 minutes and one hour to finish the whole job.

It has also improved provisioning a lot. Today, if I want to provision one VM, it takes me five minutes. Earlier, it would take a minimum of 30 minutes to go and choose everything. Now, I can just click once and it can provision my whole VM. We also integrated with our Alexa, so even through voice functionality I can create a VM. One of the guys at VMware, along with our partner, deployed that in our environment. If I say, "Hey, Alexa, I need a VM with four gigs of RAM," it will go and start creating it.

In addition, it has reduced our CapEx and OpEx, especially the OpEx values. Initially, we had 25 people to manage it. After going with vRealize, 15 people can do all the jobs and they can concentrate on other improvements as well. It's good for our company.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that, instead of doing the VMotion manually, we have automated everything with a script, using vRealize. That means I don't need to think about things like compatibility. The system will do everything for me and just give me a report.

It's very user-friendly. It is not hard to go and find things. There is a one-click Help that you can use to find all the documentation you need to manage it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From a stability perspective, VMware is number one compared to other products that are available in the market. We have never had any major downtime, after going to vSphere 6.5 and afterward. Earlier, yes, there were challenges, but nowadays it's very smooth and very straightforward.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

VMware products are meant for scalability. For example, today my environment is 1500 VDS's. We acquired a company with 300 users. To merge them, I didn't need to worry about anything like hardware because it was already there. I was able to do it on the fly in one shot.

How are customer service and technical support?

What we like about VMware, especially if I compare it with other vendors, is the support. When we call directly, the technical people jump in and start supporting us. Deploying the solution is, maybe. a three-month process. After that, managing it can be painful. So when a vendor is ready to offer that kind of support, a customer is ready to adopt their solutions. That's why we like VMware support.

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

We are a VMware shop. We also have Citrix and Microsoft hypervisors but, compared to both of them, VMware is the best for us, for our environment.

When selecting a vendor, price is not the only criterion. The product availability and how much better their support is, are also important.

How was the initial setup?

In the initial setup, I took care of the hardware part, but the software layer and other things were taken care of by my engineers. It was straightforward.

Currently, we are upgrading the environment. Compared to the earlier versions, from my experience, the upgrade process is easier; for example, the compatibility checks. I also don't need to go and find out the resources that are required. It tells me in one report what the current environment is like and, if I want to go to the next level, what things I need to take care of. Based on that I can make things happen.

What was our ROI?

In a year, I used to spend, say, $10 per user. Now it's $5 per user. That is our approximate return on investment, 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Citrix was on our short list. But over the last ten years, we have been a big VMware shop. We wanted to continue with VMware because we are confident that VMware can address any kind of problem situation, any challenges. But with Citrix, we didn't find that kind of credibility when we did solution testing, a PoC.

What other advice do I have?

I rate VMware a nine out of ten. To get to a ten there are a few areas they could improve, especially vSAN. Performance-wise, there are no challenges, but from a product perspective, it is not that flexible. What we have in vSphere today is very flexible, but vSAN is not.

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