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Just before VMworld 2019 in Barcelona, we released vRealize Automation (vRA) 8.0 which provided the most significant update to the product since it was acquired in 2012. It introduces a new modern architecture, welcomes the multi-cloud era and dramatically revamps blueprint canvas to embrace the concept of infrastructure-as-code. Let’s take a look at the top 5 things that are new in vRA 8.

 

Remember you can get hands-on training on these features in our newly updated VMware vRealize Automation: Install, Configure, Manage [V8] 5-day course.

 

 

1. Modern Architecture

 

Starting with vRA 8.0, we have completely re-architected the vRA platform from the ground up using a micro-services based architecture that is delivered using Kubernetes and built upon VMware Photon OS. Compared to vRA 7.x, this has radically simplified the deployment process and reduced the overall complexity of the solution.  Most importantly, there is no longer a need to deploy or manage any Microsoft Windows Servers or Microsoft SQL Servers to support the vRA platform.

 

2. Designed for Multi-Cloud

 

The role of the VMware Cloud Management Platform (vRealize Suite) is to support a consistent automation and operations platform across any cloud and in vRA 8 we have taken a massive step forward in achieving that. The vRA8 platform supports the automation of services to not only Private Cloud (VMware vSphere and VMware NSX) and Hybrid Cloud (such VMware Cloud on AWS), but also to the Public Cloud (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform).  In the Public Cloud we not only support IaaS style workloads (EC2, Azure VMs, Google Compute) but we also support a number of key Native Services (such as EBS, S3, Route53, Redis and Azure SQL) all as first class citizens within the Blueprints. In vRA 7.x, while AWS EC2 was considered a first-class citizen, Azure VM and GCP Compute were essentially XaaS objects on the canvas. What vRA 8 provides is one consistent interface and platform to automate all of your deployments, across multiple clouds.

 

3. Cloud Agnostic Blueprints

 

When delivering a Multi-Cloud automation platform, there is a harsh reality check to consider. Each Public Cloud Vendor is different. Traditionally, in vRA 7.x (and other products) this meant that a blueprint was required for each Cloud vendor because, while essentially providing the same service, each is slightly different. With the Cloud Agnostic blueprint in vRA 8, you can abstract those similar IaaS constructs of Virtual Machine, Network, Load Balancer, Disk and Security Group into a single blueprint that can be deployed to any supported cloud endpoint. As an example, depending on the endpoint, the vRA 8 platform would work out whether it should create a vSphere VM with an NSX network and NSX load balancer or an AWS EC2 instance with a network and an Elastic Load Balancer (ELB). One blueprint used across multiple clouds.

 

4. Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) as a choice

 

The Infrastructure-as-Code movement has gained significant traction over the last few years and I think we can all agree that declarative IaC is the right destination for most customers. However, we cannot suddenly enforce IaC on our customers. What vRA8 gives you is choice; the ability to choose whether to write your blueprints as code (YAML), either in the UI or using your favourite editor using the published schema, or create them using the drag and drop GUI (similar to the experience in vRA 7.x). Importantly, from a UI perspective, using either mechanism for creating Blueprints, means that the platform dynamically generates the other as you make changes. Allowing both types of blueprint creation simultaneously in the canvas helps to bring those not quite ready for IaC along on the journey to understand how the blueprint code is formed so that, overtime, they can get there too. It should be a journey not a race.

 

5. Blueprint Canvas Enhancements

 

There are so many subtle enhancements to the canvas compared to vRA7, in fact it could be a blog on its own!  However, as a high level overview we now have Git style versioning, blueprint version differencing, the ability to test to see if the blueprint would actually get deployed (based on placement logic) and the ability to deploy straight from the canvas (without the need for publishing to the service catalog – which is great for blueprint development!).

 

In summary, there have been so many enhancements to vRA 8 from the lessons learned in vRA 7.x and yet the purpose of the vRA remains the same.  That is, to provide a single and consistent interface for multi-cloud automation which enables customers to optimize the value from your cloud investments.

 

For a deep dive and practical use case for using these features, check out our newly updated VMware vRealize Automation: Install, Configure, Manage [V8] course. This course is extremely practical with each student able to run up to 39 labs during the 5-day course.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Christopher Lewis

Senior Solutions Engineer – Cloud Management, VMware

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