VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Streamlines DevOps, enables us to incorporate and automate Day 2 Operations


What is our primary use case?

DevOps is our primary use case. It's performing okay. We're getting ready to upgrade and move into an HA environment, so it will be much better.

How has it helped my organization?

The benefit to our organization is time to market. It has streamlined the process so that they can deploy systems, test the systems, and get the product to market faster. Speed of provision is much faster than what we used to manage, especially when we incorporate Day 2 Operations. We can get that into the automation and allow for that to take place, as opposed to the DevOps teams doing that all manually.

It has absolutely helped to increase infrastructure agility - not to its capacity by any stretch, but we're working towards that. It definitely has allowed us to be a little bit more agile.

What is most valuable?

The most valued feature is the streamlining of the DevOps process, automation and orchestration. It provides the ability for the entire Dev lifecycle to actually be incorporated into a single stream. That's our primary focus.

What needs improvement?

We still struggle a little bit with the configuration as far as making sure that we have all the endpoints where they need to be, because that's not as agile as we'd like in the back-end. We're working towards that with our DevOps teams to make sure that we're touching the right endpoints and getting the right data.

Also, what we would like to see is a lot more integration across platforms, multi-cloud. I think that's coming.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

in general, it took us a long time to get it off the ground. We had a lot of issues upfront and we determined that we just needed to scrap it. I think we scrapped it two or three times before we actually got it built the way we wanted, and we're still not where we need to be. We have had downtime. There have been some issues, but we're also two iterations behind on version. We're getting ready to move to a new HA environment and go on to the newest product line.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Right now, it doesn't scale for us, but it will once we move into the new environment. It will probably scale five years out, especially with the way that we can integrate different endpoints.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been phenomenal. Most of the time we get to the right person, but not always. We eventually do because we know who we need to talk to.

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

Previously, we used a product called LiveManager. It was not across the entire organization, it was just a subset, so there was nothing really prior to this.

When looking at a vendor, the most important criterion is how good a partner will they be? Will they be around? Is it somebody that we can trust and that has been utilized in the marketplace? In addition, is the solution scalable? And then we'll look at cost.

How was the initial setup?

No way was the initial setup straightforward. We scrapped it multiple times. Going through some of the sessions today, here at VMworld 2018, we see that they're incorporating some of the certificate management and so forth. That's where our biggest challenge was.

Upgrading was pretty straightforward. In-place upgrades worked really well for what we've done. There wasn't a whole lot to that. It worked well.

Really, it's all about the initial setup and making sure that it is set up right.

What was our ROI?

We haven't calculated an ROI but we've realized ROI in manpower.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At the time, there wasn't really any competition when we decided to go this route. It was really only VMware.

What other advice do I have?

In general, I'd recommend vRA but make sure that your framework is set, that you understand what your processes are so that you can fit into the framework.

It's not intuitive and user-friendly but we've made it that way. We've allowed the DevOps teams to incorporate some of their components inside of the catalogs themselves, so we give them a little bit more flexibility, rather than dictating what they need to do. That way, it really runs true to their process.

I rate vRA about an eight out of ten because of the inability to get this thing stood up, initially. We weren't the first to actually do it, and yet, it seemed like we were the first to do it. But because of its scalability, it's a product that we decided to go with.

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