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vRealize: a Journey to DevOps and IT Automation?

Posted by Ben Yemini on Aug 24, 2016 11:30:28 AM
Ben Yemini
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As we head into VMworld I’m looking forward to seeing all of the latest and greatest from the vRealize suite. Over the last few VMworlds we’ve seen VMware cement vRealize as the umbrella brand for their management offerings.

what vRealize suite deliversBased on a recent look at VMware’s web site it also appears that the vRealize suite got another marketing uplift. The focus is now on more intelligent operations, automation and DevOps. Seems like all the right buzz words to me.

Obviously the vRealize suite is more than just marketing hype. It is a collection of tools that VMware has purchased or built over the last few years. And with the market and customers seeking a better way to meet the increasing demand to deliver better applications running on multiple clouds it’s no wonder VMware continues to invest in this area.

Let’s take a closer look at the tools. First an important distinction. Suite vs. the infrastructure components from VMware and other vendors. After all, a management tool without something to manage is not much of anything.

Infrastructure Components and Capabilities

1. Hypervisor

VMware is a leader here with vSphere. There is also Hyper-v, KVM, Xen or PowerVM. Most VMware customers may also be leveraging the DRS capabilities designed to balance ESX hosts in a cluster based on Mem, CPU or other metrics.

hypervisors

2. Public Cloud

Many enterprises are now also leveraging public cloud services from AWS, Azure or a host of others. vCloud Air is VMware’s offering in this space. These providers offer infrastructure as a service with the ease of a credit card swipe. Managing cost and performance is left up to the customer.

public-cloud

3. Networking

Software defined networking is seeing more adoption and VMware has been heavily promoting its NSX offering in the last few VMworlds. NSX is based on Nicira which they purchased in 2012.   There are also offerings from Nuage and Cisco ACI. All designed to make the life of the networking administrator less complex.

software-defined-networking

Beyond these categories there are also a host of tools for software defined storage, continuous deployment and integration, application monitoring, container orchestration, etc.

vRealize Suite

Now let’s take a look at the collection of tools that make up the vRealize suite. At a high level the capabilities include automation, log analysis, monitoring, management and reporting. Here are the pieces.

1. vRealize Automation

This is really made of two pieces vRealize Automation (vRA) and vRealize Orchestrator (although both are separate products). BTW, vRealize Orchestrator used to be called vCenter Orchestrator. Orchestrator is used for process automation, where the user defines a bunch of steps. Those steps are then executed in a sequence that the user defines. For example, find virtual machine, turn it on, check that it is turned on, send an email that it’s turned on.

vRA is the evolution of what VMware originally acquired as DynamicOps. It provides self-service management making it easier for a user to deploy a new application. The user needs to make some important decisions. For example, ‘Where should I place a new VM? Will its resource consumption cause issues to other workloads?’ Or, ‘If this workload is deployed to the public cloud, should the other components of the application it is part of go with? Do I define a static rule for that? What happens when that changes?’

2. vRealize Log Insight

As the name sounds Log Insight is a good way to collect a bunch of system logs and see what may have caused a problem or may cause a problem in the future. For example, a security policy that is not set appropriately. Like most tools in this space it is up to the user to run the analysis and try to draw out any insight. There are other tools like Splunk that offer similar capabilities. Most VMware customers get Log Insight for free to help them better analyze their environment.

3. vRealize Operations

This product has also had some name changes. It was formerly vCenter Operations. vCOps was launched in 2011 as VMware started to reposition itself as broader enterprise system software provider. The tool collects a bunch of data from the infrastructure, obviously being good at getting to the vSphere or vCloud air metrics. It then presents them to the user so they can monitor abnormal conditions or report on the infrastructure.

Like many monitoring and management tools vROps also has capabilities to take these metrics and run scenarios with them. These batch analysis processes attempt to pack workloads and balances load. There is no connection to the continuous change in the environment or unique workload needs. So what happens when deployment engineers push that app to production? Will the analysis from last night still be relevant?

4. vRealize Business for Cloud

Finally, the business components include reporting that help organizations establish showback or chargeback policies. This is common when IT starts to act more like a line of business and wants to change how allocations work. It is also an important capability when workloads can move to any cloud and the costs can quickly add up. Those orphaned VMs running on AWS, Azure or vCloud Air…you know you have them. Similar to other policy management tools it provides but making the change to get back within compliance is left up to a separate process or team.


So when does the suite make sense?

Like most purchase decisions it really depends. Does your organization need all of the capabilities or just a subset? Will they get used and adopted or will you need professional services to get up and running? Will you be locked into one set of Infrastructure components vs. continuing to adopt and build the right capabilities?

DevOps and IT Automation are valiant goals as IT continues to transform from a cost center to a driver of innovation and agility, but make sure you have the right capabilities and your teams can leverage them across the run, plan and build phases of IT.

If you get a chance to go to VMworld this year, I encourage you to learn about how to build self-service IT at your organization and how Turbonomic provides the intelligent decisions to vRealize Automation or other cloud management tools so you can scale faster and assure application performance.

You can learn more or stop by booth #1139 and we’ll show you.

Topics: DevOps

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