VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) Overview

An Overview of the Business Case and Value of VMware vRealize Automation (vRA)

Overview

vRealize Automation (vRA) is a fully featured automation and cloud management platform that brings a lot of value to the table right out of the box, but is completely customizable to perform just about any job you can imagine.

Business Value

vRA offers quick value right off the bat via time to delivery.  A basic installation can clock in between a few days and a few weeks, depending on various design considerations made during planning.  Once the groundwork is laid, IT admin staff can then begin delivering more advanced capabilities while customers begin using the self-service portal.

Because of the quick delivery time, an organization can begin seeing increased innovation from admin and engineering staff as they are freed up from repetitive manual tasks that quickly become automated.

vRA integrations with other VMware products, such as NSX, allow additional layers of security and automation to be included in delivered services, which ensure protection from cyber threats while delivering greater consistency in IT services at a much faster speed.

Common Use Cases

Common use cases for vRealize Automation include:

  • Self-service IT catalog - for end-users
  • IT automation tool - for IT admins to save time on repetitive tasks
  • Service blueprinting and automation - consistent delivery of routine, repeatable services
  • Multi-tenant capable on-premises cloud and hybrid cloud controller - single interface to control multiple cloud environments
  • Multi-hypervisor management - bring management of hypervisors under a single umbrella
  • Governance/approval workflows - layer common approval chains on top of multiple IT services and clouds
  • External systems orchestration - integrate with external systems to create end-to-end workflows that achieve business and mission outcomes
  • On-demand IT delivery - single point of entry for on-demand and just in time IT service delivery

These somewhat broad and generic use cases can be funneled down to a near-infinite number of specific use cases.  Generally, it is very common to see the following progression for an implementation of vRA:

  1. Offer basic blueprints for various OS templates, including various Windows and Linux flavors.  This is usually dependent on the organization and the kinds of builds they want to extend to customers.  Basic flavors are usually very generic, and specific customizations are left to later steps in the progression.
  2. Add governance - automate previously manual approvals.  These usually include managers, finance officers, security personnel, or review boards.
  3. Integrate one or more external systems.  Often times this starts with integrating IPAM systems, such as Infoblox, or ticketing systems, such as Remedy.  Other common integrations include CM databases, DNS, Active Directory, and more.
  4. Add Day-2 operations.  These include things like reconfiguring a VM or performing an action relating to a deployment.  Commonly, these will reference integrations with external systems, and thus are usually further along on the delivery timeline of a vRA deployment.
  5. Add application packaging and delivery.  If an organization already utilizes tools like Puppet, Chef, SCCM, Ansible, Salt, Satellite, etc. then the recommendation is to integrate with those using available plugins or pre-existing automation procedures.  If these tools are not currently in use, then the application delivery mechanisms of vRA will be applied to deliver these.  There are also some use cases where an organization might layer this on top of a pre-existing system or perhaps even replace it.
  6. Add container support.  There are multiple ways to integrate containers into vRA.  They can be added as part of blueprints, container hosts can be provisioned using blueprints, or they can be managed with the native container management mechanism based on Admiral.
  7. Iterate on customizations.  From this point forward,items 1 through 6 are repeated until the implementation is fully fleshed out, and beyond that as the system is continually utilized in production.