VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Review

Enables us to cover all use cases using only one product although it is lacking ways it can be automated

What is our primary use case?

We use vRA to deliver automation on top of the solutions we provide which are desktops, servers, and multiple other products. These products require more actions to implement than what the vendor offers. Our primary use case is integrating customer's environments and performing data operations.

How has it helped my organization?

The whole VMware ecosystem allows us to serve multiple customers, multiple organizations and also multiple units per customer. We can cover every level without using the whole VRA and the rest of the ecosystem. We don't need to use a separate product to provide separate functionalities for the customer. We can cover all the use cases using only one product on our side which is really helpful. The operators are able to provide daily maintenance of the systems and they don't have to take care of multiple deployments. They can just use one setup to serve everyone.

What is most valuable?

The integration with the whole VRA ecosystem and in the enterprise environments are the features I have found to be the most valuable.

This solution is intuitive and user-friendly, although it is missing different ways it can be automated. I would like to use it not only to form the user interface but in a more programmatic way like APIs. 

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more automation, more ways to automate automation tasks. We are already working on the first evaluations of the next version of vRealize 8 and have found it to be promising.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There are some issues with stability. We discovered some bugs and we constantly have to work with VMware to figure out a way to fix them. There is no ideal product, it doesn't exist, which is why we are okay with this product. We don't have critical problems that are causing our production problems. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We don't have any problems with scale. We are running VRA at a very big scale with multiple deployments and don't have any issues with scalability. 

How is customer service and technical support?

We constantly use technical support and we've found it to be okay. At times I would like it to work faster. Of course, I would prefer to have engineers available all the time and to always have direct access to all the engineers that are directly implementing the solution, but I'm aware it's not possible. The relationship we have now requires building trust on both sides.

How was the initial setup?

The setup that we have implemented in our enterprise is complex. It's not the exact set up that VMware recommends by default to their customers. We get a lot of help from their consultants to help us with our non-standard design. The entire setup took more effort but it's understandable because it's non-standard.

What about the implementation team?

Sometimes we need to get help from VMware consultants. They help us to upgrade the infrastructure and fix issues that we can't fix on our own. They are very helpful and we've had a very good experience with the VMware consultants. We don't use them all the time because we have our onsite engineers who integrate the product. For the mission critical stuff, we use consultants from VMware. Our interactions with VMware consultants is one of the best experiences with this solution. This is something I benefit the most from.

We constantly do upgrades, once they are released, and we have found them to be very straightforward, I cannot complain at all. From our side, it's more difficult because we have customers who are our clients so we need to schedule all the maintenance windows with them. We also need to ensure after the upgrade that everything is properly tested. But these are mostly problems that come from serving big enterprises which have their own policies. But upgrading the product itself is very straightforward and we never get any serious problems.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other solutions, VMware was one of many that were looked at. The main reason we chose VMware and VRA was because it's a vendor that provides the whole stack, the whole ecosystem of solutions. We didn't want different products from different vendors, we wanted a full stack. 

What other advice do I have?

I rated this solution a seven because I wouldn't give a ten to any product since there is no such thing as an ideal product. Developers complain about some minor stuff so it's still not always the perfect product for us. I wouldn't give it a lower score because at the end it does what it's supposed to do. We are using it, customers are happy, it brings customers which makes money. It does the job.

I would advise someone who is looking into VRA or a similar solution to try to network with other companies, to learn from the mistakes they've made, from the stuff they've discovered. Also, I would advise using VMware to help you design the architecture you are trying to implement, don't do everything yourselves.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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