Thanks to the hard work of our product managers and engineers we have another exciting release of vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. Version 8.8 became generally available last week, and in this blog, I will explain some of the key updates you will want to know about. If you are not familiar with vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, it is a solution included with vRealize Suite that automates the installation and management of the vRealize products, such as vRealize Automation and vRealize Operations. For more details and background, check out the product page.
The new and improved capabilities I will cover are:
- Support for deployment and management of standalone vRealize Orchestrator
- vRealize Automation enhancements for Cloud Extensibility Proxy deployment and near-zero downtime upgrades
- VMware Identity Manager cluster deployment and scale-out support
- Notification enhancements including webhook validation
- VMware Cloud Foundation enhancements including skip-level upgrade for vRealize products
vRealize Orchestrator Lifecycle Management
In my opinion, the biggest news in this release is the addition of vRealize Orchestrator to the list of products supported by the Lifecycle Operations service. If you have vRealize Automation installed, you can use the embedded vRealize Orchestrator services, but for most production use cases you should really have a standalone vRealize Orchestrator cluster.
Now you can import an existing vRealize Orchestrator or install a new one in any environment where vRealize Automation is already installed (or where you will also concurrently install vRealize Automation).
Note that you cannot install vRealize Orchestrator without vRealize Automation. This also applies to importing existing vRealize Orchestrator instances. For import the instance should already be integrated with a vRealize Automation managed by vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.
Importing is straightforward, just fill out the required information for the primary host, specify the VMware Identity Manager tenant information and hosting vCenter.
A new install has a few more steps as you would expect, but most of the information is already pre-filled from the environment configuration.
Once imported or installed, the vRealize Orchestrator product icon is displayed in the environment card.
Because it is associated with the vRealize Automation install, the details and Day 2 actions for vRealize Orchestrator appear as a sub-tab in the vRealize Automation product information tab.
But as you can see available Day 2 actions for full lifecycle management are present from the horizontal ellipses icon in the product details tab.
vRealize Automation Enhancements
In previous releases an offline snapshot was taken of the vRealize Automation single node or cluster prior to the upgrade. This required some time to gracefully shut down the vRealize Automation instance, adding about 10 minutes to the upgrade time.
Now, that time is reduced in an improved workflow that performs an online snapshot and the instance is reverted to the snapshot. The vRealize Automation services health are verified before the upgrade continues.
Another enhancement, which relates to vRealize Automation Cloud, is support for the Cloud Extensibility Proxy deployment in the vRealize Cloud service. Previously, the card for the proxy was present, but only supported the standard proxy services. Now when you deploy the proxy, it will deploy with the extensibility service. The image below shows the differences between previous releases and 8.8.
VMware Identity Manager Clusters
When installing or performing a scale out of a VMware Identity Manager 3-node cluster, you can now deploy nodes across multiple data centers or clusters. This provides ability to design your cluster with higher availability by reducing single points of failure.
In previous releases, the advanced options would not allow you to change the infrastructure options. The screen shot below from this release shows that all the fields can be updated for each node.
Note that there is a requirement that all nodes use the same network across vCenter Servers.
This version includes some new notifications for license health and certificate expiration.
This provides advance notice for expiring licenses and certificates so you can take action from the Lifecycle Operations service before the expired assets cause issues with your installed products or for new product installs.
Another improvement for notifications is a new validation step when adding webhook URLs for Slack and Teams to immediately verify that the URL is correct and working by sending a short test message.
VMware Cloud Foundation
In this release, there are also some improvements for interoperability with VMware Cloud Foundation. My personal favorite is the automatic installation of the VMware Identity Manager and SDDC Health management packs as part of the vRealize Operations deployment. These are two critical management packs that are needed to fully monitor the VMware Cloud Foundation environment and previously this was a manual task performed by the administrator. This provides faster time-to-value for new SDDC deployments with vRealize Suite.
As you may be aware, starting with VMware Cloud Foundation 4.4 and vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.6.2 the deployment and management of vRealize products is managed by vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. This allows customers to upgrade vRealize products as new versions become available instead of waiting until the VMware Cloud Foundation BOM is updated.
Now customers can perform skip-level upgrades of vRealize products in VMware Cloud Foundation aware mode, which reduces the time spent performing upgrades. This will apply to the 8.1 version of vRealize products to the latest version.
Additionally, the vCenter Server, ESXi and NSX compatibility will be verified in VMware Cloud Foundation aware mode for any product deployments and upgrades. This will help ensure stability and support-ability of VMware Cloud Foundation environments.
Another great improvement is awareness of vCenter password changes. SDDC Manager can rotate vCenter Server passwords and now these password updates are shared with vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager so that lifecycle operations for vRealize products do not fail due to the change in credentials.
Content Management Updates
In this release we have addressed a bug in which contents were not being removed from source control (e.g., GitHub) on update.
Want More Information?
vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 8.8 contains some great enhancements that I believe adds even more value for vRealize Suite and VMware Cloud Foundation customers, including the support for standalone vRealize Orchestrator. If you are not using vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager or you are interested in vRealize Suite please visit our product page for more details.