VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Helps us with speed of deployment, but upgrades and tracking down logs are difficult


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is to automate systems, and at a faster pace, so we can give them to our end-users faster.

How has it helped my organization?

It has cut down the time for building out a machine. A process that used to take three hours is down to 20 to 30 minutes. If the users need a machine fast, we can get it presented to them quicker. So it has absolutely helped with the speed of provisioning.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the way that it plugs into our monitoring systems, and Infoblox and Puppet.

What needs improvement?

I don't find the solution to be intuitive and user- friendly. The GUI is really complicated. Tracking down logs and errors is very hard. Then, it takes a specialized JavaScript person to build.

Also, I'm not sure how the upgrades are going now, but they definitely need to evolve the upgrade process. 

Finally, the logs are very generalized. Giving more of an indicator of what's actually going wrong, rather than just a generic error code, would help.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had a lot of issues at first. Especially with doing any kind of upgrades, it was a complete tear-down and a complete rebuild of all the Blueprints. The upgrade process was not easy or intuitive at all. But it seems to be getting better.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's easy to be scalable on it. You're as scalable as the infrastructure you have behind it.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support, but more on the infrastructure side, not on the system side. My experience with them has been good. They get back to us quickly. We're a TAM customer, so we get quite a bit resolved pretty quickly.

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

We didn't have a previous solution. We were doing manual. We still are, but we're within 15 to 20 days of deploying it. We went with this solution because of the partnership with VMware. We have vCenter, we have a bunch of their products, so it just made sense to try to go with a simple approach.

The most important criteria when looking to work with a vendor are the ability to adapt to us and our needs, and that the vendor be quick on responses.

How was the initial setup?

I came in about halfway through the initial setup. It was very complex. We had VMware projects going on, so we had a couple of consultants giving us full-time personnel to help us through it. We had VMware there, and AdvizeX was another one. Then we had the specialty people from VMware that they deployed out to our place.

What was our ROI?

We still haven't gotten it into production yet. But once we do, our value is going to be the ability to turn around virtual machines a lot faster.

What other advice do I have?

Read as much as possible and then take it slowly and don't try to jump in full force. Make sure you have a good plan going into it. That was one of our mistakes. We were expecting, "Oh, this will be pretty easy," but once we got into it, was a little more complex than we were thinking.

I give the solution about a seven out of 10, given the process we've gone through with it. We've had it now for three years, but we haven't been able to really deploy it in production. I don't know if it's because of the documentation or just the ability to be able to use it and make it functional.

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