We are excited to announce the release of vRealize Automation 8.4. The 8.4 release includes many new features and updates, so many that we can’t list them all on a single blog post. I’ve focused this post on features and updates that have been most requested for this release by vRA customers.

Among the new features are a new vRA plugin for vRealize Orchestrator (vRO), improved workload placement, many new storage improvements, including better placement logic for datastores, streamlined onboarding and additional management options for onboarded deployments. On the integrations side, we’ve enhanced support for VMC, NSX, Log Insight, Azure, GCP, Puppet, Ansible, and ServiceNow.

As usual, I provided a summary and a linked blog with more information where we dive deeper into many of the new features and updates. We have a lot to cover, so let’s dive in!

vRA Plugin for vRealize Orchestrator

The VMware vRealize Orchestrator Plugin for vRealize Automation is now available. With this new plug-in, you can create and execute vRealize Orchestrator workflows against your vRealize Automation instances. Furthermore, numerous Out-of-the-Box (OotB) workflows are provided with the Plug-in. These workflows allow you to rapidly start interacting with vRealize Automation resources. For this release, we’ve focused on the following areas:

  • Rest client for easy API requests into vRA
  • Host management and CRUD operations
  • OotB workflows for host management
  • Preserve Authentication to the hosts and dynamic host creation

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Storage Enhancements

vRA improves the disk placement logic in a multi-VM scenario by improving the interactions with vRealize Operations. The new placement logic ensures disk placement always lands on the cluster which hosts the VM for optimal performance. Also support for multi-vm/disk configurations is available. This capability offers the option to deploy a cluster of VMs and attach a cluster of disks with a small number of resource type definitions.

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Cloud Assembly now has the ability to specify SCSI disk placement, perform Day-2 disk operations in multi-disk templates, set disk sizing per template, deploy a cluster of disks, and attach them to a cluster of machines.

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Support for Security Group Management in VMC

You can now change Security Group membership as a Day-2 action and iteratively through the Cloud Template. This capability allows you to associate or disassociate a security group from a VM which is part of VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) deployment. You can also attach or detach a security group iteratively in the Cloud Template for an existing machine resource. To accomplish an iterative update, simply add or remove the desired Security Group on the canvas. Initiate a deployment, and the update occurs when you select the update deployment option within the deployment wizard. Additionally, we now support updating, removing, or adding firewall rules to on-demand (new) security groups, post deployment, as a Day-2 action.

All of the new functionality mirrors the same functionality that was released for NSX several months ago.

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Azure Provisioning Updates

 This release includes additional features in Azure such as support for Azure images that are stored in a Azure Shared Image Gallery. The feature allows for Azure customers to bring in version controlled and globally accessible images into vRealize Automation for consumption. There is also support for Azure disk snapshots. Cloud Admins can create and delete Azure Disk snapshots with vRealize Automation. Finally we have included support for Azure Disk Encryption Sets. Disk Encryption Sets can be consumed via Storage Mappings within vRealize Automation and can be used to associate Encryption sets with disks during deployment.

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vRealize Log Insight Content Pack for vRA

A vRA content pack is now available for Log Insight which enhances visibility, aggregation, and search for vRA logs. The new Content Pack provides numerous dashboards focused on giving you insights into how vRA is functioning, highlights areas of concern within the product, and offers visibility into usage and performance details for proper sizing. Numerous fields and alerts are also included to improve search and notifications when issues occur. Like other Content Packs in Log Insight, you can create custom dashboards, build favorite queries, and add custom alerts based on what’s relevant to your environment.

You can download the Content Pack directly within Log Insight or from the external Marketplace. Instructions for configuring vRA to forwards logs are included in the Content Pack or vRA documentation.

Workload Onboarding Improvements

You now have the option to change the project a deployment belongs to as a Day-2 action. The action will appear in the actions dropdown list at a deployment level. The option is only available for onboarded deployments today. Depending on the Project configuration, you must be logged on as the owner of the deployment, have administrative rights, or deployment write permissions to the target Project for a successful change to occur. The required roles and permissions are included within the vRA documentation.

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Onboarded VMs can now be unregistered as a Day-2 action for each VM. This action will remove the resource from the deployment and make it available for a new onboarding workflow. When an onboarded machine is unregistered, any attached disks which were also onboarded, will be unregistered automatically.

New Service Broker Policy Criteria Options

New Integer and String based operators for Day-2 actions and Lease policy criteria are available. The new operators will allow cloud administrators to define policies with additional granularity. Also new resources criteria have been added including Tags, CPU Count, and Total Memory, providing additional constraints for deployment targeting. The resource tag policy criteria clause is consistently available across all policy types.

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Single Secrets Store

This release introduces the ability to use a single secrets store to create and store constants values within Cloud Assembly. The constants values can be consumed as encrypted input by all FaaS providers and runtimes supported in extensibility actions (ABX).

The “Manage Action Secrets” option in Cloud Assembly Extensibility has been renamed to “Action Constants” and will share the same list of project service secrets. No update is required for users having existing action constants from the previous release.

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New Operations Center Features

You can now filter optimizable deployments in the Deployments view within vRA. Choose the filter option and select the “Optimizable Resources Only” toggle to constrain the Deployments view to only deployments with optimizable VMs.

Selecting “Contact Owners” within the Insights view for a Cloud Zone will show which resources are possible reclamation targets for each Project. The cloud administrator can choose one or more Projects directly from the window and contact an owner with information on optimizing resource usage within their Project.

Furthermore, access to Operations Center features can now be controlled by assigning or removing read and read/write access to Cloud Zones, Projects, and Deployments via custom roles.

Updates for Ansible and Puppet Integrations

Configuration management is an important part of any automation strategy and so we have enhanced our Ansible and Puppet plugins with new features. The Ansible plugin now supports the ability to register VM’s in the Ansible hosts file by their FQDN instead of the IP that was assigned during deployment. This feature provides customers with more machine deployment flexibility. For Ansible Tower, we have added support for deploying Workflow Templates, traditionally we have only supported the deployment of Job Templates.

Puppet integration has new features as well, such as the ability to send custom Puppet facts along with the deployment. Customers can now add custom properties to the vRealize Automation Cloud Template and those properties are passed along as Facts in the Puppet system. Another Puppet enhancement allows customers to point the Puppet node to a MoM or Puppet Compiler during deployment. The Puppet node will download the agent and any other tasks needed from the Compiler, but could be managed by the Puppet Master that is specified in the Puppet Account created in vRealize Automation.

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ServiceNow ITSM Plugin Improvements

 The ServiceNow ITSM plugin has significant improvements that we are excited to share. The most significant change is that we now support native ServiceNow Catalogs. Supporting native catalogs allows ServiceNow users to login to a familiar portal and provides more flexibility to the Cloud Admins when customizing the portal. We have also included the ability to setup multi-level approvals using the vRA Approval Workflow. This workflow provides an important governance enhancement by allowing approvals to be more customized for your organization.

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NSX-T VM Tag Management in vRA

Many customer use VM tags to determine Security Group membership in NSX. We now support migration of Security tags from NSXv to NSX-T. Also management and creation of tags is supported from the Cloud Template in vRA and as a Day-2 action for a VM.


Google Cloud Platform Provisioning Enhancements

Users can now set a custom property useSoleTenant to take advantage of the GCP Sole Tenancy capability (dedicated host)

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Summary

Our newest release of vRA offers many new ways for your organization to automate, manage, and govern the use of resources in your environment. Our team continues to deliver the features and updates you are looking for as you continue on your automation journey. Thank you for checking out our blogs today!

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