vRealize Automation (vRA) 8.1 represents a major step forward for vRA. This release expands on the amazing work our development team accomplished since the 8.0 release in October 2019. This blog post will walk through the new features in 8.1 at a high level. Nearly all the feature summaries have an associated technical blog link with further information.
We have introduced the ability to create custom resources in Cloud Assembly. Custom Resources allow you to define anything as a resource that can be used as part of a blueprint. As a part of creating the custom resource, you define the Create, Update, and Destroy actions for the resource. Additionally, we offer the ability to add any additional Day-2 operation actions for the resource once deployed.
Approval policies are a level of governance that helps control which deployment requests and actions require approvals before being initiated. If the approver rejects the request, the request is not initiated and fails to execute. For example, you have a catalog item that is important, but it consumes a significant amount of resources. You want one of your IT administrators to review any deployment requests to ensure that the request is needed. Another example applies to day 2 actions. Making changes to a deployment that is used by many might be devastating. You want the project administrator who manages the deployment for that team to review all changes to the deployed catalog item.
We now offer improved methods for controlling CPU, Memory, and Storage utilization within a Cloud Zone that is assigned to a Project. Cloud Zones can be assigned to more than one Project. This allows a Cloud Administrator to overallocate resources across Projects. You can set limits per deployment for a specific group of users and prevent overuse of a specific set of infrastructure resources.
vRO Enhancements Galore
vRealize Orchestrator now supports PowerShell, Nodejs, and Python for tasks in workflows along side the traditional vRealize Orchestrator java scripting language!! This is a huge advancement for vRealize Orchestrator. No more need to have a PowerShell Host to run PowerShell scripts. Plus the inclusion of Nodejs and Python make creating sophisticated workflows easier by using existing libraries for those languages!! The tree view that everyone was familiar with in vRealize Orchestrator was not available when the switch to the HTML 5 client happened. With the release of vRealize Orchestrator 8.1 a version of the tree view is back with hierarchical folders. Now you can easily organize your workflows as you did in previous version. Furthermore, syncing workflows to different branches from a Git repository is supported. Before it was only available to source control to a single branch. This allows promotion of code through normal Git operations and PR requests. You can also see the visual differences between versions of a workflow in the workflow designer under version history.
8.1 introduces multitenancy as an opt-in feature for vIDM and vRA. Tenancy leverages Provider and Tenant organizations which provide logical isolation for governance and resources. Configuration and management is handled through LCM.
A new view only role can be assigned for all the services within vRealize Automation 8.1. The role Provides an “auditor” capability where a user assigned to this role can see configurations, deployments, blueprints, etc. but not interact with the platform in any way. The viewer role is also available for Projects. Administrators can restrict view only access to specific projects using this role.
A great new feature in vRealize Automation 8.1 (vRA) that will allow customers who are using VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) to more easily consume the infrastructure and policies that are provided with the VMware Cloud Foundation solution. When building a Private or Hybrid Cloud it is important to provide services to users who will consume that infrastructure and the combination of VCF and vRA provides a seamless way to just that.
Expanded Pricing and Health Visibility from vRealize Operations
The financial aspect of deploying VMs is becoming more critical as usage of cloud increases. Showing the price of VMs to end users can help influence their behavior when requesting new VMs and maintaining their existing VMs. With the release of vRealize Automation 8.1 and vRealize Operations 8.1, defining the prices of your VMs is now more powerful than ever.
VMware Cloud Management strategy is evolving very quickly these days. We are opening our arms more with each release to integration with other platforms. This allows vRA to act as a control plane layer above as many aspects of multi-cloud environments as possible. Our latest integration seeks to help IT operators maintain the ever grow landscape of capabilities with Red Hat OpenShift. Once integrated you can create namespaces and assign them to projects in Cloud Assembly allowing for governance and control.
Kubernetes Across vRealize Automation
Check out all the areas within vRealize Automation that can help deploy and manage upstream Kubernetes environments as well as deployments of applications to Kubernetes environments.
Pipeline as a Catalog
Service Broker provides an easy to use self-service catalog for requesting blueprint from Cloud Assembly, vRealize Orchestrator Workflows, ABX Actions, and Market Place OVAs and Templates. Now you can also present Code Stream pipelines as catalog items. This capability provides an easy to use request process for users to launch pipelines directly from the Service Broker catalog. User now have the ability to access the great features of custom forms to front end CI/CD and infrastructure pipelines.
Ansible Tower Support
Support for Ansible Tower allows customers to run Ansible Tower Job Templates from our blueprint canvas. vRA incorporates existing Ansible Tower instances into vRealize Automation. This provide customers with another option for configuration management along with Puppet and Ansible Open Source. The Ansible Tower and/or Engine can reside on-premises or in the cloud. The nodes that will be managed or deployed could also be on-premises or in the cloud. With the choice of where to deploy and manage instances, the integration provides maximum flexibility when integrating with these solutions.
Powershell for ABX
Action Based Extensibility (ABX) is a serverless function capability integrated into vRealize Automation’s Cloud Assembly Service. Previously, ABX only supported Python and NodeJS scripting languages. With the release of vRealize Automation 8.1 the on-premises ABX appliance will now support running PowerShell (PS) natively as a serverless function. With the new support, you are able to use all the power of PowerShell without the need to create PS Hosts and complex infrastructure to support PS scripting.
On-demand NSX Security Groups
vRealize Automation 8.1 (vRA) no offers full NSX security group support for NSXv and NSX-T. Included is support for new and existing security groups. Security group membership is controlled through the network profile or the blueprint canvas. You can also assign firewall rules and services to on-demand security groups.
Day-2 Network Update
You now have the ability to change the network associated with a deployment as a day-2 update action at a deployment level. Inputs are used within blueprints to allow the choice of networks for vSphere workloads.
IPAM SDK and IPAM Updates
The IPAM SDK is a great new toolkit for developing a package that enables integration of a third-party IPAM provider with vRealize Automation and vRealize Automation Cloud. The download package provides a sample implementation of a third party IPAM provider. Technical guidance explains how to build an IPAM integration that conforms to vRA’s expectations for a third-party IPAM provider. Available on code.vmware.com
Active Directory Enhancements
vRealize Automation 8.1(vRA) allows consumption of Active Directory within Cloud Zones based on Tags. Support includes dynamic validation of AD integration settings during authoring. Machines are assigned to correct Organization Unit based on the Project the deployment user is assigned to in Cloud Assembly. When a deployment is deleted, the machine account in Active Directory is also deleted. If vRA Cloud is used, the on-premises Extensibility Action appliance is required.
OVA Content Source
Excellent new feature in vRealize Automation that highlights the Bitnami acquisition VMware made last year. Bitnami brings an entire library of prepackaged application stacks to the VMware Marketplace. Makes it easy to get your favorite open source software up and running on any platform, including your laptop, Kubernetes and all the major clouds. One of the formats that is provided for these popular application stacks is the Open Virtual Appliance (OVA) format. Provides OVAs directly to users in a self-service catalog using Service Broker
Support for vSphere 7 and NSX-T 3.0
Last but not least, vRealize Automation 8.1 (vRA) includes support for vSphere 7 and NSX-T 3.0 immediately at release time. You can quickly start deploying workloads and networks to vSphere 7 and NSX-T 3.0 once you’re up and running with 8.1.
As you can see we crushed it this release providing a ton of enhancements and new capabilities in vRealize Automation 8.1. Check out all these great features (and associated blogs) and let us know what you think.