vRealize Automation is a multivendor cloud management platform which allows users to provision and manage virtual machines, applications and custom IT services. It provides a secure portal where administrators, developers and business users can request or provision new IT services, applications and infrastructure from a defined service catalogue of deployment options. By integrating with existing infrastructure, both on premises and cloud across multiple hardware and software vendors, vRealize Automation provides a common automated computing platform to help shift data management from process to policy.
Any process that undertakes deploying, configuring or maintaining resources becomes a use case for vRealize Automation. This includes not only infrastructure services but multitier application services and custom services or XaaS (anything as a service). XaaS is achieved when integrating with vRealize Orchestrator to insert workflows at specified points during an automated process; such as running an operating system customisation script, generating a request for work ticket or updating a CMDB.
Resources can be controlled using reservation policies and limitations, promoting self-governance and accountability for each business group, with as much or as little administrative involvement as desired. Included are a number of built in extensibility features which ensure strict governance and compliance for the deployment and lifecycle management of machines, applications and services.
Using blueprints we can create a map of compute, networks and software ranging from a single VM to a suite of server systems to support full deployment of applications. Blueprints can be designed for frequently requested services allowing the IT department to deliver service platforms of consistent quality within agreed service level agreements. vRealize Automation sits at the top of the software defined data centre stack, providing the access layer between business groups and the software defined data centre.
There are two deployment types for vRealize Automation v7. A minimal deployment is a single Linux based appliance and a single Windows server containing the IaaS components. This is intended for proof of concept or dev environments, you can protect the management services by adding them to a highly available cluster made up of a minimum of 3 ESXi hosts, however this deployment model should not be used for production workloads.
An enterprise deployment, or sometimes called a distributed deployment, consists of multiple appliances and typically multiple Windows servers to form a distributed, load balanced and highly available environment. For assistance with planning the architecture of an enterprise deployment you should review the vRealize Automation 7 documentation centre in detail: http://pubs.vmware.com/vra-70/index.jsp#com.vmware.vrealize.automation.doc/GUID-4CAD1136-29B5-45CC-B050-33A2412B669A.html.
The vRealize Automation appliance contains the following components:
- vRealize Automation – core services.
- vRealize Orchestrator – embedded instance for creating workflows.
- VMware Identity Manager – syncs users and groups with AD.
- vPostgress database – maintains information about managed virtual machines, elements and policies.
The IaaS components allows for rapid modelling and provisioning of servers and desktops across virtual private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructures, they include:
- IaaS website – provides infrastructure administration capabilities to the vRA console.
- Model Manager – coordinates communication between other components, external systems and databases.
- Distributed Execution Managers – provides the vRA functionality, coordinates and executes workflows, connects to endpoints (one to many) and manage virtual machines.
- Agents – integrates vRA with external systems to provision machines, services and collect data. Also executes workflows and connects to endpoints (one to one).
- IaaS database – maintains information about managed virtual machines, elements and policies. The database is an internal or external Microsoft SQL database.
vRealize Automation is designed to integrate with vRealize Operations (performance and health monitoring and analytics, resource planning and forcasting), vRealize Business (costing and consumption automation and comparisons), and NSX (on demand virtual networks and security policies).
For vRealize Automation pre-requisites and installation steps see the post vRealize Automation 7 Install. To try out an installed and configured environment have a look at VMware Hands On Labs http://labs.hol.vmware.com/.