VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Self-service, from onboarding to the end, is helpful, but upgrades are not straightforward

What is our primary use case?

Initially, we used it for private cloud. Now, we are trying to go with a hybrid model.

In terms of performance, right now we're making revisions to ensure that it is hybrid-compatible. We have multiple engagements with VMware to facilitate it that.

How has it helped my organization?

Productivity has definitely increased. We are not relying on engineers to actually build out the infrastructure anymore. That's the main benefit. From an infrastructure perspective, it has definitely increased productivity, ensuring that the engineers' time is well spent on other, more important tasks, rather than the basic provisioning that they were doing earlier. 

What is most valuable?

The self-service capabilities are by far the best that we've seen in terms of features. If the user is being able to log in and make requests himself, from the onboarding process all the way to the end, that's very helpful.

What needs improvement?

I'm curious to test out the features that have been announced. We'll see how that goes from a hybrid perspective. I'm looking forward most to the hybrid capabilities.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability needs a lot of work. The troubleshooting component of vRealize is a pain. The administration and the upgrades are not up to the mark. If they were able to improve on that, that would be the best thing and would make it much easier to run it in the enterprise.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Since we are looking at public-cloud scalability, as long as that model works, I think we should be good. We're not too focused on the scalability on-prem but we want to see how it scales out to the public cloud.

How is customer service and technical support?

Our experience with technical support has not been great. There seem to be multiple rounds of escalations surrounding support for vRealize Automation issues that we have encountered.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup and it was complex. The certificates, the distributed install, wasn't straightforward, I'll just leave it at that. We had Professional Services come in for the first round of install. During the second round of install, when we tried to do the update ourselves, there were multiple points of failure. It was not easy. The install, the upgrade features, are not easy at all. The administration part is what is very problematic with vRealize Automation right now.

The upgrade experience is horrible. It's not straightforward, there are a lot of failures, a lot of support interactions. It's not something that we are able to pull off ourselves. I've been with vRA since it was termed vCSA. We've gone through multiple rounds, and it has never been easy.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were initially thinking about vCloud Director but we're a VMware shop so we wanted something that is native to VMware technologies. We didn't approach a lot of other vendors. One of the things that is important for us when selecting a vendor is whether it fits in with our footprint or not.

What other advice do I have?

I rate it at six out of ten right now. To get to a ten, they definitely need to improve on the administration and the troubleshooting. From an operations perspective, it is a nightmare. From a user perspective, it is pretty good.

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