Well, our product team has been busy since the 8.4 release of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager and it shows in our latest release, 8.6. This is a hefty payload of new features, product enhancements and usability tweaks that will certainly bring a lot of value to customers of vRealize Suite and vRealize Cloud Universal. In overview, these are the updates included in 8.6:
- VCF-aware mode enhancements, including the ability to toggle VCF-awareness at the environment level
- New Lifecycle Operations features such as a detailed topology view for environments and auto discovery of existing vRealize product deployments
- Full snapshot management for products including revert and delete
- Deploy and manage Cloud Proxies for vRealize Cloud
- Notifications have been tamed and now support Slack, Teams, and email notification
- Plus, Content Management updates, VMware Cloud Marketplace integration and more!
I will expand on these in the following sections and by the end, I know you will be as excited to get vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager upgraded to 8.6 as I was – it is that awesome!
VMware Cloud Foundation Aware Mode Enhancements
VCF customers who also own vRealize Suite can leverage cross-product “awareness” between VCF SDDC Manager and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. This helps ensure that the vRealize products built on your VCF SDDC are compliant with VMware Validated Design and have the benefit of automating the deployment of NSX-T load balancers for vRealize product clusters, if desired.
However, there are situations where customers deploy vRealize products outside of VCF environments. To provide flexibility and choice, we have now added the ability to toggle VCF Aware mode per environment. This means you can have your cake and eat it, too!
When you deploy a new environment, you can set it to VCF Aware. However, if you decide not to do that, you can enable this as a Day-2 action as you can see in the screen capture above. If you do enable VCF Aware mode, the pre-checks will make sure that your products comply with VCF architecture requirements for node size, clustering, etc. Additionally, you will be prompted to provide information needed to deploy any required load balancers.
Of course, you can also disable VCF Aware mode, and this only has the effect of removing the products from SDDC Manager inventory. The product configuration and deployment are maintained. This will change things slightly for on-going upgrades and patches since SDDC Manager will no longer dictate the versions and provide binaries.
Which now brings up another enhancement to VCF integration – simplified and consistent patch and upgrade management. Now in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6, SDDC Manager is used as the install and upgrade repository only. Deployments and updates are handled in the Lifecycle Operations service in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager as they are with non-VCF environments. The diagram on the slide below provides more detail on how this will work, but it makes things more consistent for a customer who has both VCF and non-VCF environments to manage.
Another enhancement is one-click Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) settings. For a VCF environment, CEIP can be toggled from the Day-2 actions instead of for each individual product, simplifying deployment and ongoing management.
Lifecycle Operations – Topology View, Auto Discovery and More
I love pictures and diagrams. They make managing complex infrastructure much easier by abstracting the components and showing only the relevant information I need to get work done. So, I am very excited to introduce the Topology View for environments in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6. Here is a screen shot, so you can see for yourself:
A thing of beauty, right? If you ever had to go hunting to find placement information, details about dependencies and other bits of information about your product deployments you will appreciate this.
Clicking on a product exposes the components and their relationship to each other, the placement of the product appliances within the infrastructure (down to the host) and more. You can even search for products or components as shown above.
“But John,” you cry, “I have vRealize stuff already deployed and I’m not using vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. I want this cool topology view, but I do not have time to import all of my products!”
Well, you are in luck because in 8.6 you can now simply add any vCenters where you have vRealize things deployed and let vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager do the heavy lifting. With Auto Discovery, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager identifies any vRealize products in your environment and allows you to easily import them.
The FQDN, IP address and other required information is already gathered, you just need to provide the passwords for admin and root accounts. vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager will do the rest, pulling in the product details and create a new environment for you. Or, if you would rather, you can add them to an existing environment.
Outbound Notifications via Slack and Teams? Yes, Please!
Although vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6 looks awesome and that topology view is mesmerizing, who wants to sit in the user interface all day? Nobody, that is who. And now with Outbound Notifications you can get updated on important information about your vRealize environments and products in Microsoft Teams, Slack or via good old email. There are two new cards in the Lifecycle Operations Settings tab: Outbound Notifications and SMTP Settings. Using Outbound Notifications, as shown below, you can set up triggers for product update notifications, license status, certificate issues and environment health. These notifications can be sent daily, weekly, or monthly to the Slack and Teams webhooks you choose as well as multiple email recipients.
Setting up the SMTP configuration is required for the email notifications, of course. For the webhooks, those are easy to do and below you will find links on how to create those yourself.
Once you have those webhook URLs, add them to the notification and you are done. Recipients will get a notification right away and henceforth at the frequency you select.
I know what you may be thinking, “I bet this is going to be so much noise in Slack or Teams or email, that I will want to disable it.”
I am happy to say our product team thinks of everything and another enhancement to notifications in 8.6 is consolidation. First, notifications that apply to a single product or environment are combined into one. For example, if you have multiple environments running vRealize Automation you will see a single notification for an available patch and the applicable environments will be listed.
Further, for the Outbound Notifications you will only get a single message with all notifications since the last one was sent. So, no spam, no noise, just concise, actionable information.
A New Service is Born – vRealize Cloud
There is a new card on the dashboard in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6. I am happy to introduce the vRealize Cloud service, which provides improved vRealize Cloud Universal subscription management and Cloud Proxy lifecycle management for vRealize Cloud products.
If you have tried or activated a vRealize Cloud product, you know that for these SaaS services to collect data and interact with your on-premises vSphere environments you need to deploy a Cloud Proxy. This is not a difficult task, simply requiring you to provision a virtual appliance via OVA in vCenter. However, it can become time consuming if you have many to deploy. Also, keeping track of all these Cloud Proxies can become challenging.
Why not let vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager do the hard work? In version 8.6 you can now deploy and manage Cloud Proxies for vRealize Automation Cloud, vRealize Log Insight Cloud and vRealize Network Insight Cloud.
Day-2 actions including deleting Cloud Proxies and changing node passwords.
Subscription activation and management is also provided in this new service for vRealize Cloud Universal.
So Much More
I have only covered a few of the great updates in vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6 and there is so much more.
vRealize Operations Cloud Proxies can now be added as product components. But even better, Collector Groups can be added and managed, allowing you to easily assign Remote Collectors and Cloud Proxies to groups and even move them between groups as needed.
NTP configuration settings are now Day-2 actions so you can update environment and product level NTP settings if needed. Also, node root passwords can also be individually configured so you don’t use a single, common password for all nodes in a product or environment.
Improved snapshot management, including the ability to take snapshots and have them automatically removed after a request completes successfully. Or even revert to a snapshot if a scale-out or upgrade request fails at some point. You can even view the snapshot tree for products and manage them just as you would in vCenter client.
Content management updates like automatic pipeline status refresh and new pipeline timeout settings. Not to mention, addition of vRealize Orchestrator HTTP-REST operations for capture and deploy and Workflow version history included in captures.
One more? OK, how about Day-2 log bundle deletion for environments and products to reduce disk usage.
Get vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6 Today
Heard enough and ready to see for yourself? vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6 is available now from VMware Customer Connect or you can upgrade your existing environment by following the instructions here. If you are not a vRealize Suite or vRealize Cloud Universal customer and you would like to know more about VMware Cloud Management, be sure to check out Pathfinder for more details, demonstrations and videos.