DefinIT

#VMworld2015: vRealize Automation 7 Briefing Notes

vmworld2015-logoI was fortunate to attend a vExpert briefing for vRA.Next, which was announced this morning to be vRealize Automation 7. The briefing was run by Jad El-Zein (@virtualjad) along with Grant Orchard (@grantorchard), Brian Graf (@vbriangraf), Kimberly Delgado (@KCDAutomate) and Jon Schulman (@vaficionado) – if that list of names doesn’t fill you with confidence for vRA.Next, then I suggest you follow them on twitter and trust me that it’s a crack team!

 

So, my highlights:

  1. Completely automated deployment…almost. The deployment of appliances and installation of IaaS components and pre-requisites will be wizard driven, the Window Servers will need to exist and have an agent installed, and the MSSQL server will also need to be installed. Anyone who’s done a distributed vRA install will know that this is a massive improvement over the current state of affairs.
  2. The vRealize Automation appliances will be clustered automatically for core services such as identity, cafe (portal), vPostgres and embedded vRealize Orchestrator (Embedded vRO is now recommended for production).
  3. A new identity service. No more vSphere SSO or PSC – VMware Identity Management (vIDM) is a new, highly scalable and performing federated identity platform. Any SAML identity source, and more than 3m users supported per source.
  4. An initial setup wizard that creates your first tenant, configuring things like fabric groups, business groups and vSphere endpoints automatically. It will even import your existing vSphere templates as clone blueprints.
  5. The old CDK is gone! Instead you can use any event within vRA that is pushed through the RabbitMQ message bus to trigger extensibility through workflow subscriptions.
  6. vRealize Orchestrator has a new HTML5 Control Center which is your single admin point for plugin configuration as well as adding metrics and monitoring for all workflows being executed.
  7. There’s no need for unique tenant URLs – the new vIDM platform allows a single logon interface for all tenants. (Though you can keep your URLs if you want!)
  8. vIDM can also be used to control authentication from IP source, e.g. to restrict logon to a specific subnet regardless of whether the credentials are valid or not. This has some cool ramifications for having the web layer in a DMZ, for example.
  9. Functionality is slowly being migrated from the old IaaS/DynamicOps layer to the appliance – this is fantastic news. The migrated portions (such as vSphere Endpoint configuration) are now accessible through the vRA API, as well as gaining the speed and stability that the appliances provide.
  10. The new blueprint designer is awesome. Added to that what was AppD is now called App Services and allows you to take a base blueprint (e.g. a CentOS VM) and drag and drop software components that you’ve scripted on top (e.g. Apache, then PHP). You can also drag and drop XaaS (vRO workflows) onto the blueprint, as well as existing blueprints to create nested blueprints.
  11. Much fuller integration between NSX and vRA. There’s a whole raft of improvements in the integration between vRA and NSX – e.g. you can drag a new routed network onto a blueprint and it will automatically create a new Logical Switch and Distributed Logical Router to attach the Logical Switch to. Similarly load balancing applications is a drag and drop operation, as is applying existing security groups.
  12. All blueprints can be imported and exported in YAML, which opens up exciting possibilities for storing versioned blueprints and retrieving programmatically.
  13. There are over 60 lifecycle events out of the box on which you can trigger Orchestrator workflows, but you can create custom filters based on properties and events to extend functionality – the only limitation is what you can imagine!

There are still several months of development to go between now and the GA of vRA 7 and the development seems to be moving at a great pace. Between beta 1 and beta 2 there was a huge amount of change, and even the version demoed today had new features and UI.

Someone did ask the inevitable upgrade question – there is an upgrade path but it will have caveats – e.g. if you’ve got vCloud Director (or vCloud Air) endpoints, or are using physical endpoints then it’s likely you will need to remove them and re-import post upgrade.

I’m properly excited for this next version of vRA – some of my biggest problems with 6.x have been removed or improved, and the new extensibility features look awesome. This looks like a really mature release and builds in great new functionality.

On phrase stuck out and for me sums up the whole release beautifully – “extensibility gone wild”