VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

It is bleeding edge technology, but at times, it is buggy.

What is our primary use case?

It is similar to a lab system for testing our software versions. We also use it for cloning customer environments for troubleshooting.

How has it helped my organization?

It is mostly for our tech support to test new versions, find bugs, and troubleshoot what is happening at customer sites.

It has made it easier for IT to support developers. Our tech support people are happy with it.

What is most valuable?

I can make a blueprint with an Active Directory deployment. With everything prepared, people can start installing our products.

What needs improvement?

It is bleeding edge technology, but at times, it is buggy. 

It is too broad scale and complicated. It takes too many clicks to do things.

I would like a simplified version of the interface for small businesses. We started with Lab Manager. For us, Lab Manager was the perfect tool. It was easy and simple. It had all the screens for machines right up. vRA is too many clicks for the normal, simple user.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is okay. However, this is one of the products which I have had support work on the most.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is endless. What I would like to see in vRealize Automation is an SMB version, a simplified version, but still have the advanced options. For example, we use a lot of fenced deployments. We have five virtual machines deployed to fenced environments, which is our most common scenario. 

We are a small office with only 600 people and about 16 technical support personnel.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very good. I recently had a tech support case last week, and I got the answers that I needed.

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

We switched because VMware canceled the Lab Manager products. So, we were looking for something, then we started with vCloud, but VMware canceled vCloud too. Thus, it has been a very rocky road. My one message to VMware, "Stick with one direction and stop cancelling products all the time."

How was the initial setup?

I have done all the version setups. For one year, we could not get the first version to work. I think this was version 6.0, but the latest version 7 is good.

What about the implementation team?

I had a consultant help me a little bit. I did most of the work myself because I like owning the products.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Before, we had the vCloud suites, then suddenly we split out to NSX and had to pay two licenses extra just fenced because we don't use microsegmentation for firewall rollouts. Therefore, a simplified version for small businesses would be good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are embedded with VMware. We also use OpenStack, but it requires a lot more investment from IT.

What other advice do I have?

It is a complicated product, but you can do anything with it.

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