If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering VMware vRealize Automation (vRA), what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
It improves the work, making it better. It also makes daily work much easier.
I would rate this solution an eight. There's always room for improvement, nothing's perfect but we haven't had any major problems because of it or with it. I would advise someone looking into this solution to check out the training before you get it and not afterward because it covers all of the deployment.
I would rate this solution a neutral five. It has a lot of potential but it's very hard to use. It has a steep learning curve and you need to invest an obscene amount of time to be able to do anything. I would advise someone looking into this solution to be prepared to invest some serious time.
We are overall satisfied with the product. Give it a try. Try it out in the labs from VMware. Evaluate it quite deeply, and see if it fits for your purpose or company.
We recommend VMware technologies to any of our colleagues or anyone asking to compare to other virtualization technologies in the market. We have had VMware for more than twenty years. We are very old VMware customers and have a big setup.
I would rate this solution a nine because we've had a good experience with their consultants. Also, because the product is evolving. I would advise someone looking into this or a similar solution, to test the solution beforehand and to be in contact with VMware for advice and help with configuration. You'll realize this solution isn't so complicated.
I would recommend use the solution.
It is a complicated product, but you can do anything with it.
I would rate this solution a seven because it hasn't perfectly adapted to our use cases with multi-tenancy. If you're looking into this solution I would tell you that if you use this solution only within your own company, you'll be fine. If you have a business like ours, it can get complicated.
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.
I recommend going directly to the cloud which already has the self-service portal and other fancy features.
If the use case matches, it is the perfect product for you.
If you're looking into vRA, I would advise that you to choose it but don't customize it.
I would rate this solution a nine and would advise someone looking into this or a similar solution to invest in VMware Orchestrator. It's behind vRealize Automation for almost everything. You should know vRealize Orchestrator first and then try to deploy, install, and configure vRealize Automation.
I think we will be leaving the platform. For our business case, it was the wrong product, but there was nothing else on the market at the time. When we deployed our virtual machines, we had a very big template with 30 to 40 machines. It was difficult to configure all the virtual machines and blueprints. It was locked when it was deployed with vShield, and now, there is NSX and vShield is no longer supported.
vRA 8, from what I have seen of it, in a session here at VMworld 2018 Europe, fulfills every need we have. The Service Broker is better. vRA simply speaks with all my other endpoints and I see a lot of benefits in that. I would rate this solution as an eight because the way we set it up reduces the effort which would normally have been needed to deploy a virtual machine or perform data actions. I'm not giving it a higher score simply because of the difficulties we have run into in the past with it as well as the difficulties we continuously face during upgrades. We are currently discussing if we should stay on vRA or move back to vCloud Director. For now, I would recommend vRA, having seen the roadmap of vRA 8, which, in my opinion, is really good.
I would recommend this solution.
The new version is user-friendly and intuitive. We have upgraded to 7.5, and this has been a good step for the product's usability. Today, I would start with the vRA device. In the beginning, we did a lot of stuff with vRealize Orchestrator, so we had to develop our workflows on our own, which is a bit more complicated. So, vRA is good idea if you want to start and get quick results.
I would not recommend this product. I think that there are better products to meet your needs that are competitors on the market.
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: * Ease-of-use. * 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.
The solution is user-friendly, to a degree. I feel like you still have to know a little bit of the ins and outs of how to get into it, some of the commands to use for what, exactly, you're trying to do. But besides that, it's pretty user-friendly. In terms of increasing infrastructure agility with it, we have, maybe to a small degree. I don't feel that, with our implementation of vRealize Automation, we have really gotten very far. We've only scratched the surface. Like I said, we only use it for our internal IT, and we're just being able to save a little bit of time by the things that we do. We haven't really dug deep into what it's capable of. It has made it easier for IT to support developers but I don't feel like we're at that point yet where the developers are involved. We have it as a future (goal) to involve our developers and have them be able to get on a webpage, and be able to do things automatically, without them having to put in a ticket or request us to do something for them; just making it automated. As we get to that point, though, I think it will be very useful.
I would rate the solution as an eight out of ten. It has been extremely useful for our end users. To administer, it has been a bit more difficult.
I would easily give vRA a nine out of ten. It has done everything that we need. We're not the most complex use case, but it's done everything we need, we can just forget about it in the background. It's a nine and not a ten because of the training stuff. It would be helpful to have a nice flow of training for a new employee. I'm the "old guy" of the shop and we're bringing on new people or new use cases. For example, the user-services department needs to start using it. How do we bring in new people to use its fleshed-out features, in addition to just our using it, where other departments are using it? How do we bring those people in? That's the only thing we really need.
The solution is getting better. VMware has been paying a lot of attention to it lately, and it's been inheriting a lot of their cloud efforts, user interface improvements, and getting more intuitive. It's a nice thing. To be able to build custom forms and do more things, which directly respond to our customer's needs. If I had to rate the solution one to ten, I would give it a seven. There is room for improvement, but it looks like they are making those improvements and putting a lot of work into it.
Make sure that you know what you're getting into, first off, what it's for and what you might need it for because I might recommend maybe a less robust product line for your needs as opposed to something that's more of like a higher infrastructure, corporation-level product line, like vRealize. Every version, they've updated the UI, scalability, added new products to be able to work with different cloud vendors. Overall, that part of it's fine, there have been improvements from version to version. As far as automation techniques, like Chef or Puppet or Ansible, it's the age-old thing: Mac, Windows, Linux, whatever works for what I need, I'll use. I don't really have a preference, as long as it works for what I need.
In general, I'd recommend vRA but make sure that your framework is set, that you understand what your processes are so that you can fit into the framework. It's not intuitive and user-friendly but we've made it that way. We've allowed the DevOps teams to incorporate some of their components inside of the catalogs themselves, so we give them a little bit more flexibility, rather than dictating what they need to do. That way, it really runs true to their process. I rate vRA about an eight out of ten because of the inability to get this thing stood up, initially. We weren't the first to actually do it, and yet, it seemed like we were the first to do it. But because of its scalability, it's a product that we decided to go with.
Use it, but be ready to invest a lot of time, man-hours, into building it out in the way that you want to use it. It can do a lot of things, and that's one of the problems - that it can do a lot of things. So you have to know what you want it to do before it'll do what you want it to. In terms of it being intuitive and user-friendly, from an end-user perspective, I believe it is. From the administration and development side, it's a little bit complex. It takes a little bit of time to understand how everything works behind the scenes of vRA and vRO, but once you start learning it, it's kind of intuitive, once you get your feet wet with it. I rate vRA about a nine out of 10, because of some of the "gotchas" that aren't really well documented. But it is very valuable for us in how we've implemented it and how we're utilizing it.
I would definitely recommend vRealize Automation. One thing that we've had to realize about this product is, it's dependent on some back-work that you do inside your vSphere environment to prepare for it: things like tags, things like folders, things like naming conventions. We've discovered that these are very important when you're attempting to roll out this product because you already have an established vCenter environment. For instance, in our case, where we had multiple data centers, we may have had different implementation times and perhaps may not have had the same standards around things like naming conventions, DV switches, or storage. Because they map, you have to very cognizant of that. That's been an issue, not only on the Automation side but across the whole vRealize Suite. I also manage all of the vROps, the analytics, and the integration between the analytics, the vCenter, and the Automation. It can be tricky. You need to be detail-oriented on how you configure and set up your vCenter so that you're consistent in all implementations. If you have a multi-vCenter environment, you want to make sure you use the same naming conventions across them. We already had established standards, but as new people came on board, they may have varied something thinking, "Oh, I can just shorten this," or "I'll hyphenate this VLAN_, no, actually I'll do a VLAN-". When you go to map that, to automate that, and you go to read your available VLANs, suddenly it doesn't recognize them because you're not consistent in your conventions. That's one thing we really discovered in automation. The second was using naming conventions that are consistent and searchable so that you can understand different applications and environments. That's going to be very important when you're actually building automation and workflows. It's something that the customer needs to be cognizant of and vigilant about as they move towards automation. Automation is taking the existing infrastructure and attempting to automate it and use it and leverage it in a way that's dependable and consistent. I think that's the greatest thing we get out of Automation. It isn't speed, it's consistency; consistency in deployment, consistency in execution. I give the solution a nine out of 10, based on my satisfaction with the product. My experience with its growth over time - the last few versions I've looked at, 7.3 to 7.4 - is that it is going to give us some capabilities in integration that we didn't have before.
My advice would be, use it with NSX and with Infoblox. I give it an eight out of ten, mostly due to the learning curve to catch up to where you need to be. Some third-party integration, that would still be nice to see.
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.
Read as much as possible and then take it slowly and don't try to jump in full force. Make sure you have a good plan going into it. That was one of our mistakes. We were expecting, "Oh, this will be pretty easy," but once we got into it, was a little more complex than we were thinking. I give the solution about a seven out of 10, given the process we've gone through with it. We've had it now for three years, but we haven't been able to really deploy it in production. I don't know if it's because of the documentation or just the ability to be able to use it and make it functional.
My advice is: Get training. I give vRA a seven out of ten, for now. In addition to the database issue I mentioned, it's not quite clear how to do certain things. I have not been given training on it. The learning curve is steep. For me, a lot of it is on-the-job training. There might be a better way to do things, a quicker way, but I don't know what it is right now. For now, I don't find it that intuitive to use.
You should look at the complexity and size of your environment, and when utilizing that background for your requirements, I personally would recommend VMware. You should look at what your deliverables are in this solution. If you do that, you have something you can measure it by, to determine if it's a good fit for you. But I do suggest that you look at VMware as a potential vendor. I rate the solution at seven out of ten because I don't believe it's a perfect solution. It fits in our data center and it works for our organization, so it's a good solution for us. Yet, at the same time, technology changes so quickly today that a solution you bought three years ago, even if it's upgraded, isn't the solution that's going to fit. For example, we're all going to the cloud or on-prem/off-prem, and because of that, that solution may be in the cloud tomorrow, so I won't be buying it anymore, I'll be buying the cloud version of it because it's utilized through a different service provider. My most important criteria when working with a vendor are really easy. I evaluate the vendor based on these things: * What is their reliability? * What is their pricing model? * Is it a partnership versus our just being a customer that they want to make large margins from?
If you have the validated designs or PSO guidance for setup, go with that now. Try to keep it as out-of-the-box as possible, in a supported configuration. I rate this solution at seven out of ten. By now, it does the job we need it to do most of the time. There are definitely areas where it could use some improvements.
Buy the solution. There is no problem. For the last three years, our customer hasn't had any problem. With vRA, the customer saves time.
My advice is "do it." Functionality really is the most important criterion when selecting a vendor. If I can purchase a product or a service that is going to check all the boxes, that's more important to me than price, personally. The company signs the checks though, so they might see it differently.
The solution is intuitive to the end-user, absolutely. I've created a web portal, through vRA, in which users' specific requirements are built-in. Now, to develop that was not overly fun, but, overall, it is good. I give it an eight out of ten because it has provided my development team a pure self-service portal. We deploy thousands of machines and reclaim. So, their time to business and their time to market has been improved exponentially.
Give it time to save you time.
I recommend this solution, though it is not that great. It is okay for what it is for. When it works it's great. For me, personally, I don't want a call from a customer that it failed. Most of the time it works. If it doesn't, then we do troubleshooting. I rate it a seven out of ten because it needs improvement in stability, performance, and quality.
My advice would be to hire Professional Services. Don't do it yourself. When looking to work with a vendor, the most important factor is skills. They need to have the right skills, especially when you don't have time, your project timeline is very short. Skills are the key: someone who knows the product, who has lot of experience, and who has done it before.
I would recommend vRealize Automation. If you don't already have experience in it, you're probably going to hire a partner to help deploy it and make it tie into your environment. Make sure the third-party stuff works with it, make sure the APIs are open. We use it to automate. During the provisioning process, we use it to talk to the Infoblox with the DNS stuff and the IP provisioning, and to talk to our Veeam too. Just make sure that the rest of your stuff is going to work with it. I rate it a nine out of ten. To get it to a ten they should make it easier to use and to understand what it's doing.
I rate VMware a nine out of ten. To get to a ten there are a few areas they could improve, especially vSAN. Performance-wise, there are no challenges, but from a product perspective, it is not that flexible. What we have in vSphere today is very flexible, but vSAN is not.
For a specific business, you need to know what you're trying to do. For ours, it's a match that I wish we would have had immediately. It has paid dividends. I give vRA a nine out of 10. Sure, there's room for improvement. I don't know all of those areas, I'd let my more technical people speak on that. For us, this has been one of those solutions where ownerships loves it, appreciates it, sees the difference.
If your requirements are on par with what VMware is providing, we would recommend it. I would rate VMware solutions, overall, at eight out of ten. Whenever we talk about VMWare, people only think about the hypervisors, virtualization. But it's not only about the virtualization at the compute level, it's also at the storage level, at the network level, at all levels. It's about a complete solution. It creates an abstract layer on top of all these things.
I rate vRA at seven out of ten. There's some room for improvement, but it's better than the old way that we used to do things. It's a good product, it could just use some ironing out. The most important criterion when selecting a vendor, to my mind, is support: a support network, whether it be knowledgebase articles online, forums online, or calling into actual, paid support.
Understand your business processes before working with it. That's what we're doing right now: getting a better grasp of our business processes and how the lifecycle of these VMs work, so we can better utilize vRealize Automation. I rate it at eight out of ten because of its intuitiveness, its ease of use, and the features that it will bring to us - a two-man team - will be like having a couple of extra guys on hand. And that's really great. I know PowerCLI is there and we can always script it out. But automation is really a powerful tool that we're looking forward to using, that will make it a lot easier. It covers a lot more. So we're happy about that.
Talk to a lot of different companies and people that have done it. Find out what not to do and what to do. It will make your journey easier. We are working on a lot of the digital transformation right now. We are working more on the Pivotal Container Service (PKS) product, and a lot of integrations that they're doing with the performance monitoring, the metrics, and KPIs. This is very important to us. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: * Transparency: Be very open with us. * Be very knowledgeable about their products, so that we don't have to go through three or four different people to get one answer.
Make sure that you know what your infrastructure looks like before you start. I rate this solution at eight out of ten, with potential to grow. I still have to learn a lot more about it. Once I learn some of the additional features and add-ons that I can implement, I think it will increase.
My advice would be to heavily invest in training in vRO. vRO is the backbone of what vRA does. I also recommend that you come up with a plan. Don't try to automate everything in the first step. Find the good use case and make sure you offer new value to the customers that you're building it for, prior to just replacing what they have with something new. IT admins commonly don't like to have their interface changed so dramatically. When looking for an IT vendor that would integrate in the data center, I look for an extensible API. It's very helpful when that vendor gives me the ability to either write a REST plugin, or they've written one themselves, and they're fully familiar with the software-defined lifecycle. It's great when they have a vRO plugin that I can tap into and orchestrate and automate but, if they don't, I need good documentation of their REST API and then we'll write our own vRO plugin. We haven't really seen many vendors integrate directly into vRA, but if they're tapping into vRO then we're in good shape. vRA and vRO, for us, are just brothers. The solution, overall, used to not be intuitive and user-friendly but they've taken some good feedback in the last two years and made some significant improvements that have really helped us out in managing upgrades. It used to be very difficult to upgrade. It's gotten a lot simpler and that has made our lives quite a bit easier. Also, the stability of the distributed, highly-available infrastructure for vRA.
I give the solution a nine out of ten. Again, that's probably our own being behind. It's entirely possible the newest version is a ten. It's the whole extension, further into more modern technology, but we're not on the newest version at the moment. So it's probably already there and we don't see it yet. We're trying to get everything pulled together between our company and several other companies, to be on the same version. We're in the process of upgrading to the 6.5 and then, hopefully, very soon to 6.7.
vRA has a very nice toolset for being able to integrate with VMware. It is great for being able to automate things within the VMware environment. We probably need to learn more about it, so we can fully realize its use, what the plugins for other things are. But it's doing everything that we need for now. We've seen that it has room to grow with us.
Do your research beforehand, because the architecture itself can get you tripped up if you don't properly align your certificates. You definitely have to have an idea of where you want to end up. There is certainly room for improvement with some of the little things I was talking about, like either better managing of the upgrade process, or just making the infrastructure deployment a little bit easier. It feels like all of the pieces have been automated on one level or another, like with the PowerShell scripts, doing all the IS, Windows boxes preparation. They just need to get it to be more end-to-end.
Right now, it works for what we use it for. We're not using all its features, but the pieces that we use work fine.
I rate it nine out of ten because of the simplicity of the solution. It's so easy to manage
It's a good solution. The deployment can be complex so I would recommend engaging professional services for setting up a proof of content environment to evaluate it. I rate vRA at eight out of 10 because of issues with the stability of the appliances. But other than that, it's a pretty solid product. It does exactly what we need it to do and we are happy with it.
In terms of advice, being here at VMworld 2018 is a start. I'm sitting through a lot of these presentations and there's a myriad of information available that is located right here, as opposed to me having to go search for it across the web. When we consider working with a vendor, for us, government certifications help. From our perspective, ATOs and STIGs and all those types of things being in existence before we start to work with them are important, because having to obtain all those things from us is a difficult portion of it. Also, product support for integration with other systems, that's always a key to us. Those are the two main factors.
I'm happy with the product. I would absolutely recommend it to a colleague. When you compare it to other products in the market, it depends on what you're trying to do.
Be particular about requirements and what your goals are with the customer. There is a lot more to this product than doing a deployment, so make sure you understand the use cases.
Absolutely go for it. I believe in it. I've seen and I've heard companies talk about how valuable it is. My only suggestion is, if you're strapped for time, get a consultant or some third-party or VMware Support to help you with the deployment. There are a lot of "gotchas" in there that we didn't know about and I'm glad we did go with a consulting company. I give it a nine out of ten. I never really like giving something 100 percent because there's always room for improvement. I feel that it's a very solid system but there are little tweaks in there that could be done better. For example, HTML 5, which I hear is coming. But also, to me, they should make it easier to figure stuff out. It's a little hard when you're trying to branch out and do it on your own. If the consultant goes away for a day and you're trying to figure things out, tooltips or some sort of help or some sort of highlighting of things that would give little tidbits indicating you need to link this to this over in this direction, etc; that would help out new people.
Start with VMware vRA. Other solutions haven't been in the game long enough. You're going to have a lot of custom-scripting that VMware already puts in there. I rate it an eight out of 10 only because I wish we had a way to get through the technical support department faster. We've been with them long enough - and I've already talked to the sales guy about this - that they should almost have an "express lane." You lose two or three days going through the normal process. It goes to level-one and he bounces it to level-two, to level-three, when pretty much, because we've got this long history, they should know that when we call, it needs to be bounced all the way up to the top. That's just the reality.
Find out what the requirements are and what do you want do with it, then see if it fits. If you're looking to deploy virtual machines through a self-service portal, this product works well. Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It meets our requirements.
My advice would be to go to hands-on labs to see if it's exactly what you're looking for because, as far as the reality versus the expectation goes, it might be a little bit of a shock, especially for the non-technical person. If they're going to say you, "It's going to be great. You're going to know everything," there are some things you might have to take into consideration. They might have to do a little tutorial for you. I would just try to set your expectations. I rate it at eight out of ten. I believe it's intuitive and user-friendly. Could it improve? Yes. Could it be worse? It could've been a lot worse. So it's okay. The extra two points are because one of the first issues, on one of the first versions that I took training on, was around the idea that, yes, here's your dashboard so people can deploy resources without having to know too much, but it seemed kind of bare as far as presenting it to those people. That's the only gap that I see and it's just going to be filled in with user experience and people like me saying, "I'd like a little bubble to pop up," or something to hover with information when someone has to give approval. I'd like for them to be able to see why they are approving this, without having to go dig into why we set up that limit. It would be nice to have a tooltip that says, "This was agreed upon..." or whatever comment I want to display. For example, if I want to reference a ticket number internally: "Approved, XYZ," or "Related to mass ticket maintenance ABC," so they can say, "Yes, that's right, this is the DFW migration," or the like. They're non-technical and those are the kind of terms they use. I find the UI is missing that part. I have to explain it to them. And then, of course, they're going to forget, or they're going to get a new guy in, and he's going to say, "Why do I keep having to approve these things?" It would be really nice if it just told him right there. This is why you're approving it because of mandate such-and-such, or memo number 123. From other products that we work with - I came from the troubleshooting operation side of the house before I started working in Product, so I worked with VMware on ESXi and vSAN - they have always been good at taking our opinions. For vRA, I'm starting that process with them, so I'm not expecting them to have a turnaround yet, but I'm expecting them to take our feedback, for sure.
While it's user-friendly use, you need to know what you are doing with it. Get your requirements beforehand. Make sure of the services that you want to provide and have them nailed out. If you are just writing VMs, then you don't need vRA. If you are providing services, you're going to become a broker of services to people, so you have to plan ahead. Also plan the workloads that you're going to be providing because they will consume a lot.
VMware is great. We have multiple criteria when selecting a vendor. But in general, we look at * support * experience * cost. I rate this solution at eight out of 10 because of the high level of functionality that it has. Why not a 10? Because there are some things that we wish we could have in the application, which the solution will have at some point, from what I'm seeing, but at the present, they're not there.
We moved to the solution because it is pushing the agility of IT. The upgrade process was fine.
Make sure you think out the entirety of your deployment because it's hard to change components after the fact. Make sure that the initial deployment is good. We got that from VMware. They were very good at understanding the size of the environment and they tried to scale it for that environment. I would rate this solution at about eight out of 10. It has been good but, as I said, there are some faults. Overall, it has performed phenomenally and the support behind it has made it absolutely useful.
vRA is great. If you're looking for a multi-tenanted solution that is very easy, from a customer perspective, to use, and make it seamless for the customer to actually get what they're looking for, i.e. a server, developers love this. For the customer, from the time to market and ease of use perspectives, you can't go wrong with vRA. It's that good. I would rate it at about nine out of 10. If they would integrate DR, that would bring it to a 10.
From experience working with other service provider cloud products, VMware vRealize Automation Center is the best out-of-the-box solution to quickly build out your cloud portal and fully integrate it into your orchestration layers, as well as your compute and storage infrastructures. It can support multiple public clouds as well as hypervisors, providing that single pane of glass for management, operations, and reporting. I would give it a nine out of 10 as there is always room for improvement, since cloud is always evolving.