VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Helps us provision servers much faster but the learning curve is steep for sysadmins


What is our primary use case?

Primary use case for us is how do we consolidate, how do we provision machines as fast as possible, provision databases? Also, how do we go from on-prem to cloud?

How has it helped my organization?

We like vRA because it helps make systems available on time for our customers, on demand. Previously, if a customer requested machines or servers it would take three or four days to deliver. But now we can give them specific tools, or a portal, where they can shop and select which server they want. We provision servers faster. For example, to get a database machine provisioned it would take a week. Now it's a matter of 30 minutes.

Also, we now have control over the network, the server team, the storage. We only need a single team, customers are only talking to one team.

What needs improvement?

I don't think it's intuitive or user-friendly. I think it's a good tool. Any automation tool, these days, the learning curve is kind of high. You're teaching sysadmins who never developed stuff. Maybe they modified a little bit of code and now you tell them, "Hey, here's the tool, use it." But you have to know a little bit of DevOps. So you have to train them how to do the scripting.

They could also improve a lot on the interface itself.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had any outages or crashes so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very agile. You can scale it however you want.

How is customer service and technical support?

If you have the Premium Support you might get somebody. Other than that...

How was the initial setup?

I was responsible for the upgrade. It was very complex. One the reasons was that we were going version to version. We learned that some of the objects that were supported in previous versions were duplicated across the board. So we had to clean a lot of the databases to get the new versions.

What was our ROI?

We are still at an early stage so our assessment is probably going to be at the end of the next quarter.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to hire Professional Services. Don't do it yourself.

When looking to work with a vendor, the most important factor is skills. They need to have the right skills, especially when you don't have time, your project timeline is very short. Skills are the key: someone who knows the product, who has lot of experience, and who has done it before.

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