This week at VMware Explore Europe we announced our latest VMware Aria offering, VMware Aria Hub Free Tier. You can read the announcement blog here to get an overview, but in this blog, I will cover the technical details of VMware Aria Hub Free Tier including available features and requirements. In general, VMware Aria Hub Free Tier is a free instance of VMware Aria Hub and VMware Aria Graph for use with AWS and Azure public cloud accounts. No VMware products or services are required so you can sign up even if you are not a current VMware customer and see for yourself how VMware Aria Hub powered by VMware Aria Graph can make multi-cloud management easy by reducing complexity and giving you visibility to all of your workloads, no matter where they are deployed and no matter if they are legacy applications such as LAMP stacks or cloud native applications running on EC2 or Azure virtual machines, or modern stacks leveraging Kubernetes clusters or serverless functions.
Before we begin, please remember that anything discussed here is subject to change and may not make it into the final service. With that I will share our legal disclaimer.
“This blog may contain product features or functionality that are currently under development. This overview of new technology represents no commitment from VMware to deliver these features in any generally available product. Features are subject to change, and must not be included in contracts, purchase orders, or sales agreements of any kind. Technical feasibility and market demand will affect final delivery. Pricing and packaging for any new features/functionality/technology discussed or presented, have not been determined.”
For the sake of brevity, I am going to refer to VMware Aria Hub as just Hub, and VMware Aria Graph as just Graph for the remainder of this blog.
Free But Value Rich
So, what do you get in a free offering? A lot more than you would expect, including security analysis, cost visibility, rich multi-cloud inventory search and business application management. But let’s start at the beginning in the Hub Home page.
Once you add your cloud accounts (up to two) through an easy, three-step onboarding process, Graph will begin to interrogate the cloud provider APIs to learn about your cloud inventory, configuration, and costs. Graph then stitches the inventory together to create relationships between the managed entities. This provides the basis for information shown on your Home page view, as you can see in this screen shot image.
As you can see, by simply connecting your cloud accounts to Hub Free Tier your multi-cloud visibility is already improved with security, cost, and application data as well as a high-level overview of inventory. There are also links for things you can explore within Hub Free Tier like the powerful search query language and the GraphQL API.
There is a lot more to the Hub Free Tier; included are some basic capabilities of VMware Aria Cost powered by CloudHealth providing information in the “Cost” widget. This shows the potential cost savings available for public clouds, based on published rates from AWS and Azure. To get more insights you can request a trial of VMware Aria Cost to see detailed recommendations for savings based on your cloud billing. There is also VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds, which is exposed in the “Secure” widget on the Home page.
VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds helps you visualize, prioritize, and reduce misconfigurations across public clouds and Kubernetes environments. In the Hub Free Tier, VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds analyzes your cloud workloads against the CIS benchmark and reports findings. On the Home page you can see a summary of those findings. For more detail, you can navigate to the Findings page as shown below.
In the Findings page you can review the CIS findings, using the filters to narrow the view to only the accounts, providers, or resources you’re interested in. You can also filter by severity.
Additional capabilities like remediation and compliance benchmarks such as PCI, HIPPA and more are available with a subscription to the full VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds service. Not ready to subscribe just yet? No problem, you can sign up for a free trial by clicking on the link to VMware Aria Automation for Secure Clouds at the top of the Findings page.
A central theme for Hub is awareness and visibility of business applications. Having visibility to cloud entities such as VMs, storage services, database services, etc. is great, but viewing them in context of the applications they support is so much better. Therefore, the Hub Free Tier also includes ability to quickly discover and model applications. Note that on Home page, there is a list of business applications and a list of potential applications.
Hub discovers Potential Applications by grouping entities with similar properties. Of course, this is a best effort by Hub and needs confirmation by someone familiar with the organization’s business applications. This is done through curation using the Application Modeler.
Using the Application Modeler, you can examine the Potential Applications for accuracy and edit the application topology to remove or add application components such as VMs, services and other application groups. Once you are satisfied with the curated application you can save it as a Business Application. If the application model needs to be updated, you can always edit the Business Application to make changes.
Shared services can, of course, support multiple business applications. In this case, an entity such as an RDS database can belong to multiple groups and applications. You can then see those relationships in the Search & Explore view. Here an RDS database instance is shown to support two Business Applications.
Knowing about the applications using a service is important when performing troubleshooting or maintenance. Arguably, it is the most important piece of information because this improves communication of potential business impact. Other Hub services can also consume the Business Applications for use in cost reporting and optimization as well as security hardening.
Exploring the Clouds
You can see that the Home page shows information about your cloud inventory such as the top five services deployed and a chart showing the growth of those services over time. The Resources by Region widget is a fast way to see services deployed in any cloud region, but if you want to explore the entire inventory you can click View All Inventory to navigate to the Inventory view.
In the Inventory view you will see all your cloud services by default. You can use the filters to narrow the inventory to a cloud, service, region, or cloud account. You can expand each service to see the entity types under each service and the count of entities deployed.
When you click the entity link, you will navigate to the Search view with a pre-built query showing all entity types you selected. In this case, EKS Clusters.
Notice that the Graph view selects an EKS cluster by default and shows the relationships for that cluster, including the Kubernetes entities. You can “walk the Graph” by clicking on a related entity to view the relationships for that entity in the same view.
Here I have walked from a cluster to the related EC2 instances, exposing the relationships between the entities along the way. Note that the EC2 instance selected shows the relationship to the Kubernetes node. Additional entity details are shown in a panel on the right side of the screen, for example the details for the selected EC2 instance provide the CIS findings, cost information, metrics, properties and tags. You can chart up to two metrics on the time-series graph to perform quick analysis.
Recall that you are in the Search view, so let us look at what kind of searches you can perform. Hub has a search query language that allows you to show lists, perform aggregation searches, show relationships, and, of course, just do a plain old text search.
For example, I started out with a Graph view of all EKS clusters. But suppose I want to narrow the search to only clusters which have public access, and I further want a count of those clusters by AWS region. Clicking into the search bar brings up a query builder, providing clues for the next entry, including property names and possible values. The animation below shows an example of this working where I am building the query previously mentioned.
Once the query is built, I execute the search and the results appear in a Grid view.
Clicking on the “Resource Count” for any of the available regions will open the Graph view with the clusters I’m most interested in exploring. Notice that the query has updated to reflect the region selection.
During your session, recent searches are cached and available to re-use. This is handy for pulling up a previous search and edit for different results.
As you can see, the Hub Free Tier is packed with value for anyone managing multiple public cloud accounts or even multiple accounts with a single hyperscaler. For simply signing up, you get access to security and cost analysis, application discovery and topology views, and rich inventory and search capabilities across multi-clouds.
If you are interested in the Hub Free Tier, sign up now to join the waitlist to get access. We’ll send you an early access invitation at the end of November. To learn more about Hub and Graph, visit us online and check out these additional resources.
- Registration for VMware Aria Hub Free Tier
- Press Release: VMware Helps Platform Teams Get “Cloud Smart” with New Cloud -Native App Modernization and Cloud Management Capabilities
- Blog: Announcing VMware Aria Hub Free Tier
- Demo: VMware Aria Hub
- Blog: Introducing VMware Aria
- Blog: Introduction of VMware Aria at VMware Explore US
- Blog: VMware Aria Graph: API First Approach
- Blog: VMware Aria Hub Hands-on-Labs (HOL) VMware Explore Barcelona 2022
- VMware Aria Universal Suite