VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Used by developers to spin up their own VMs and destroy them at will


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What is our primary use case?

It is primarily used for developers to spin up their own VMs and destroy them at will, afterwards my group spins it up in production machines. Probably, its most valuable feature is it takes time off of my schedule to quickly, securely, and conveniently deploy virtual machines, then I can work on other things.

How has it helped my organization?

The big benefit is it will spin up VMs quickly so it would take about 13 to 15 minutes to deploy a virtual machine. Whereas, if I were doing it based on an email from users who are requesting VMs, it might take time for me to hear back from them. This could be anywhere from an hour to a day. It's extremely convenient to be able to spin something up and be able to work on other things, because it's already done it, making my workload lighter.

Quantifying can be a little difficult because we recently rolled out. It is probably 90 percent quicker to get something out the door than it was before. For developers, depending on who is building VMs for them, sometimes they request anywhere from 20 to 100. Now, we can deploy them in a matter of an hour, where previously it might have taken me three days to deploy out 100 VMs.

What needs improvement?

It would be nice in the next release if they added in tool tips. Whether you're putting it together, adding a blueprint, or you're making a change in the system, highlighting or selecting something and having it tell you what it does or what it will do would be nice. Because it's such a complex system, it's hard to work with unless you've been using it for years to know what everything is doing.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, stability is great. We haven't had anything crash or be taken down by bugs that we've come across. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We left room to be able to expand in the future. This was the job of our consulting company.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Previously, it was just me manually building VMs. 

When my workload started increasing and I started getting more tasks, my manager noticed that it took longer to deploy VMs. At which point, our senior admin knew about this product and suggested that we move forward with putting it into the new environment.

How was the initial setup?

The setup process isn't intuitive and user-friendly, but once it's set up everything after that is easy. It can be as hard as you want it to be, or it could be as easy as you want it to be depending on how you're setting it up. 

It is completely upgraded to the newest right now. 

What about the implementation team?

I spent about a month working on the set up. It was pretty complex. 

It takes a smart person well-versed in anything from JavaScript to building out blueprints to somebody who knows vCenter and vSphere. 

To deploy it, we brought in a consulting company because were strapped for user availability to set it up. Therefore, having a consulting company sped up the process of putting it together.

What was our ROI?

Since it's fairly new, we don't know the ROI yet. 

As far as value is concerned, it has been essential to our environment. We have been able to deploy VMs quickly and the developers have their own sandbox, so they can spin up and destroy VMs at their own will. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It was always going to be VMware, because that's our primary virtual machine deployment. 

What other advice do I have?

It is a solid 10. It's completely taken a lot of time off my plate so I can concentrate on other things, including learning the product as well as vRO, vRealize Orchestrator. 

If it's too complex for you, get a consulting company, because it makes the process a lot easier. I would definitely speak with other people who have implemented it in their environment. We've actually done that in the past for other products. It's nice to hear what other companies think about the product. It will help accelerate your decision.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

  1. Ease-of-use.
  2. Functionality to the point where it's not going to break, and there are no bugs in it. If the product has been long known to contain very harsh setup routines, it's going to take a long time for bugs get fixed, or there are multiple bugs which keep showing up in every version, this is something that I don't want to deal with.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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