VMware vRealize Operations (vROps) Review

It determines whether something is operating differently than it has normally operated in the last six months or even the last week. It is cumbersome for mid-sized companies to manage.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are historic trending and showing outliers; being able to determine if something is operating differently than it has normally operated in the last six months or even the last week.

What needs improvement?

We don't use it as much as I'd like, mostly because it's a little too heavy for what we have time to do with. vROps works best when somebody has it open 24 hours a day, is sitting in front of it, actively monitoring the heat maps and everything that's going on, and has the time to adjust all of the policies, so that when your operation is normal, you don't have any alerts going on, and you don't have any heat maps going on. I don't have anywhere near that kind of time. I'm the administrator of not only our global vSphere environment, the 500 servers that operate in there, and all of our storage infrastructure that supports our MetroCluster. Actually trying to spend hours and hours defining policies to get others to shut off that I don't care about, is very cumbersome.

It already has so many features that I can't utilize, it's difficult for me to determine what’s missing.

For me, the biggest area is out-of-the-box ease of administration. There are a lot of features that are turned on constantly and a lot of metrics that they use that, instead of asking you what you'd like your baseline to be, there are assumptions that are made about what good baselines are. Then, you have to go back and change all of those baselines so that it works for your organization. It would be nicer for me if the process interviewed you when you first bring it up about what kind of metrics you'd like to see in the different clusters in your environment so that that first day when you turn it on, you're not flagged as 90% of your stuff is out of compliance.

We just went through the implementation of vROps 6.2. We were coming off of an older version. I've been working on it as much as I can for about the last three weeks, and we still have some 150-odd active alerts that I'm going to have to go write policies to shut those off. That's sort of the complication. There's nothing broken in our environment; these are not problem machines. It's just metrics that fall outside of what the vROps team thought would be optimal for our environment.

I'd certainly like to be able to get more than I'm getting out of it. It's not a limitation of what it can do, it's just a limitation of the cumbersomeness of the management. My company is mid-range-sized and there are huge companies that have multiple people that actually just work on vROps. That's not, I would think, the majority of vROps customers. I suspect there are more of us, more mid-range-sized companies. It's a valuable tool, but it does require a ton of administration for the size of the IT org that we have.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for about four years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Historically, it's been pretty stable. The biggest complication I have with stability is the fact that the management packs are written by a third-party organization and they don't necessarily interact well with all of the different versions of vROps. We have Storage Analytics from EMC as one of our plugins, but vROps only supports very specific versions of Storage Analytics for very specific versions of VPLEX hardware. Those very specific plugins can only be run on very specific versions of vROps. What actually determines the version of vROps we're running is the firmware revision running on our VPLEX. It's sort of the tail wagging the dog; I can't upgrade because then I couldn’t monitor my VPLEX. That's been very frustrating, as far as, "I'd like to upgrade and do this and do that and get this feature in, but I can't, because my VPLEX hardware code is too old."

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't talked very much to the vROps support team at all. I've only had, I think, one open case, and I resolved that before they got back to me. He was very nice when I talked to him, but I haven't really overly utilized support.

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

We've used a lot of different products for a lot of different parts of what it does. We mostly used vCenter monitoring and vCenter alerts prior to using vROps.

How was the initial setup?

I didn't do the original vCOPS installation.

I did do the 6.2 installation. The actual out-of-the-box installation's not terribly difficult. Some of the certificate pieces for getting that plugged in is a little more cumbersome than I'd like, but that's a global thing with VMware in general; the certificate management is not where it needs to be.

What was our ROI?

It's not something that out of the box you just throw in and is going to give you a good return on investment. You really are going to have to use it and have somebody managing it to get your money back.

Make sure that you have sufficient resources to manage vROps before you actually pay for it. It's a very expensive product in the mid-range for what you get for the cost; you're going to pay a significant amount. You need to make sure that you're willing to dedicate the resources to that from a salary perspective. You're going to have to hire a person that helps manage this, or get some resources or free up some resources to really help do that, or you're going to waste your capital expenditure on vROps.

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