Introducing VMware Cloud Templates
For large organizations, IT and cloud teams are expected to offer services securely, on-demand and at-scale frequently in a service provider-like model. This means that IT teams are required to provide abstract, readily usable services rather than single VMs and other individual infrastructure elements. Modelling frequently requested services in templates that can be consumed repeatably and directly by the end-user is one of the first and most critical steps in establishing a robust and scalable service delivery model. Today, alongside the announcement of vRealize Automation 8.2, we introduce VMware Cloud Templates, that replace the old vRealize Automation blueprints, to highlight the importance of this function and emphasize our commitment to keep investing and improving our templating engine.
What about VMware Cloud Templates?.
VMware Cloud Templates define VMware Cloud infrastructure provisioning and orchestration and are a key component of vRealize Automation (packaged) and vRealize Automation Cloud (SaaS). With Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) front and center, VMware Cloud Templates describe any type of workload for all major platforms in a “low-code” fashion where code and graphical interface coexist. This means that, in addition to a GUI-based Template Designer, VMware Cloud Templates also supports Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC), allowing developers to create templates declaratively using YAML code, and collaborate based on distributed version control systems like Git.
As the templating engine of vRealize Automation, VMware Cloud Templates specify the infrastructure resources to be deployed across private, hybrid and public clouds along with the dependencies among them. As expected, VMware infrastructure, such as vSphere, VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware Cloud on AWS and NSX, is supported in depth. However, with multi-cloud becoming the norm, that’s not enough. AWS, Azure and GCP IaaS and PaaS services are treated as first-class citizens in VMware Cloud Templates. In fact, IaaS templates can be designed in a true cloud agnostic way and deployed on any of the four supported cloud endpoints (VMware, AWS, Azure, GCP) based on inputs and variables that define the placement logic. Other common ecosystem constructs, including Kubernetes clusters and namespaces, Terraform configuration files, vRealize Orchestrator custom resources, Cloud-init and configuration management for Puppet Enterprise, Ansible Tower and Ansible empower platform and application modeling in VMware Cloud Templates.
Templates can be developed and provisioned iteratively, while the deployed resources can be managed throughout their lifecycle through our popular extensibility frameworks (vRealize Orchestrator and ABX) or a comprehensive set of “Day-2” actions.
In order to address the scale, diversity and security needs of the modern enterprise, templating needs to be intuitive, inclusive and smart.
Our low-code approach ensures that developers and operators can use VMware Cloud Templates equally comfortably, no matter if they prefer coding or GUIs. Moreover, by exposing both interfaces in parallel, users gradually comprehend and educate themselves in both approaches resulting in better collaboration. Meanwhile, the more advanced users will find that a combination of drag-and-drop for initial design and infrastructure-as-code modelling for repeatable elements tend to be the most efficient.
Almost all enterprise today use the same 4-5 cloud vendors for their basic cloud needs. At the same time, every enterprise cloud ecosystem is unique like a snowflake. That is why VMware Cloud Templates embrace a two-prone strategy: Deep, up-to-date support for common, core elements and flexible extensibility frameworks to address specificities and ingest anything as a custom resource. vRealize Orchestrator XaaS (anything-as-a-service) custom resources and Terraform configurations can be used alongside the natively supported resource types to assemble VMware Cloud Templates, opening infinite templating possibilities
VMware Cloud Templates use tags to describe intent and define how and where a service should be delivered. Leveraging vRealize Automation powerful cloud organization framework, the administrator can define cloud zones (resource zones), projects (user groups) and cross-cloud resource mappings. Based on inputs and properties the smart placement engine will define what is the optimal provisioning target and generate a provisioning diagram for transparency. Intent-based placement helps combat the template proliferation and integrations with common Git repos ensures a clean iterative deployment process in line with GitOps.
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An effective cloud operating model requires a well-though templating strategy. We distill our experience from servicing thousands of enterprises to bring a simple yet versatile framework to design and deliver cloud services.