This post is focussed on the important bits that you need to know about the new announcements by VMware related to the vRealize Cloud Management portfolio.
If you’ve been following recent developments for the VMware platform then you must already know that bulk of the enhancements will be in the areas related to Kubernetes support and hybridity of the cloud platforms.
If you weren’t already, I would recommend you start looking into SaaS options of all the products going forward as VMware is keen on bringing feature parity to its portfolio, whether it be on-premises or the cloud versions. This is an important strategic direction for VMware and good for customers as upgrade cycles become thing of the past and new capabilities can be introduced without any disruption.
vRealize Operations 8.1
As you would expect, vRealize Operations provides complete support for monitoring Kubernetes constructs. To seamlessly integrate these new constructs with the more traditional infrastructure ones, VMware has introduced the concept of a “Supervisor Cluster”, which essentially further abstracts access to the basic infrastructure services such as compute, networking and storage.
The result is uniform access, creation and manageability of resources, regardless of the construct in question. For that reason, even though they are new constructs, their properties are still surfaced to the monitoring infrastructure in the same way. The screenshot below summarises the interface for Kubernetes well.
That is clever because admins are already used to finding and working with items of their interest for years and while some Kubernetes objects might be completely new, they’re managed in pretty much the same way. View of the supervisor cluster is similar.
My favourite dashboard is the one with “Topology View”, that shows all the relationships between Kubernetes clusters and physical infrastructure in a clean and intuitive manner, along with key metrics and inventory etc. Do have a look when you get your hands on it.
As you would also expect, there are many additional out of the box dashboards, reports and alerts. If that was not enough, there is a Container Management Pack that extends the visualisation capabilities of vRealize Operations into Kubernetes clusters even further and more importantly, for self-deployed clusters.
That’s brilliant as developers can have existing or new deployments on some other vSphere deployment (possibly not integrated with vCenter) that the admins will no doubt want to observe and manage from one console. Container Management pack allows them to monitor those instances as well.
One of the basic requirements when architecting a cloud platform is the ability to monitor all resources and the ability to react in case of an event. VMware hasn’t ignored the fact that in order to be able to provide dependable hybridity of its platforms with their public cloud counterparts, it needs to extend the monitoring capabilities of them too.
VMware Cloud on AWS was already discoverable in vRealize Operations before but just as another cluster. That capability has been enhanced to include multiple SDDCs and all the major infrastructure components e.g. vCenter, vSAN, NSX and most importantly, billing information.
There are new out of the box dashboards for VMware Cloud on AWS too and migration assessment as well which is quite useful when deliberating if migration of a particular workload to the cloud is going to be beneficial or not.
But of course, that’s just one cloud. What about AWS native objects? Well, there’s monitoring support for a lot more object types than before, as shown in the figure below:
Some of these objects are quite important as in order to deploy VMware Cloud on AWS, one has to integrate with an AWS account. When working with AWS application integration and connectivity in general, it’s vitally important to have consistent and secure network connectivity between the environments and so the ability to monitor all those AWS native networking components is quite valuable.
Google Cloud Platform support is also coming in this release, however, in the form of a separate monitoring pack that you can get from the marketplace and install.
Once installed, you can point it towards your Google Cloud environment and start collecting the metrics you would like to monitor. Again, I consider networking constructs to be quite important and they appear to be a little thin on the ground. I hope support for more will come soon.
vRealize Automation 8.1
Being one of my favourite products, I am really excited about all the enhancements being made to vRealize Automation, both the on-premises and cloud versions. I’ve been reliably informed that there are 53 updates in this release which is great and while I wish to tell you about them all, I’ll just pick the ones that I think have the most impact.
I remember the days well when installing vRealize Automation was a major chore and bug-ridden. Things have improved a huge amount since then and with vRealize Automation 8.1, it’s just a matter of connecting to your SDDC, select the content sources and either choose the policies or let it use the defaults.
In terms of building blueprints, custom resources are now available to create in Cloud Assembly. They are used to define any resource that is not already present as a resource type. Once defined, it can be used in a blueprint just like any other resource.
In addition to that, one can create custom Day-2 actions. That is really important because as you can create anything as a resource, the flexibility has to be there to create Day-2 actions that make sense to that particular resource i.e. not just standard ones.
I am also really excited about the enhancements to multi-tenancy capabilities of the on-premises version of vRealize Automation. Previously, one could create multi-tenancy at the business group level but that doesn’t provide as much isolation and management independence that a true multi-tenant environment requires.
Now, one can divide up the resources on the basis of Provider and Tenant Organisations and allow the latter to manage their own environments in turn. The capability is also there to create these tenants on separate resources or shared ones. Obviously, true isolation will require separate environments but the choice is left to the provider.
In terms of networking, most of the improvements are on the Day-2 networking features side. Now there’s a lot more flexibility in terms of assigning NICs and changing their configuration e.g. profiles or IPs etc. as a Day-2 operation.
Improvements have also been introduced for load-balancer configurations, including moving load-balancers to other networks. That, of course, needs to be done in conjunction with appropriate changes to the network too but the capability exists now.
In addition to that, there are many security group enhancements and the IPAM SDK, the latter of which will be very important for proper IPAM integration to vRA from vendors and users alike.
Another brilliant addition is the ability to define OVA as a content source in the service catalogue using the service broker. That is especially important due to the Bitnami library but it also applies to any OVA based deployment which is a welcome addition to the product.
There are many other enhancements like Ansible Tower integration, improved vRealize Operations and Active Directory integration and many others that I am skipping due to the length of this post. Please do check out the release notes and documentation as there are tons of improvements to sink your teeth into!
vRealize Orchestrator 8.1
Last but not least, there’s one improvement that I just can’t leave out and that is the addition of support for multiple scripting languages!
vRealize Orchestrator is the main engine behind all the automation that vRealize Automation exposes and the lack of other scripting languages has always been the barrier for many administrators. True that the power of Powershell and the workaround that was Powershell host later got around some of those limitations but having native support for Node.js, Python and PowerCLI/Powershell is a feature everyone has been waiting for. Really excited about that one! Psst: Tree view is also back!
Hope this gives you a good taster of what’s new and important. Please do keep an eye on blogs, release notes and announcements in coming days to get more details as I am barely scratching the surface here!