How to Get Started with vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestrator

by bluemedora_editor on March 6, 2017

By: Scott Walsh

Last week, I published the first post in my series uncovering how you can maximize your investment in vRealize Automation (vRA) and vRealize Orchestrator (vRO). In this blog post, I’ll share more insight into why you should use both in your environment and how to get started.

 

How can I use vRA/vRO?

Nearly every company has repeatable requests that come through IT that could be automated to free up resources for more strategic work. Companies will continue to debate whether the value of automation is worth the effort, and it certainly should be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, there are several ways that automation can be of great benefit to an organization.

 

Empowerment

The EngOps movement has done a lot to bring together traditional infrastructure and development teams, but there is still a level of contention between the two teams. The vRA self-service portal offers an environment where application teams can deploy and manage resources without introducing risk into the environment.

For instance, if the AppDev lead has a new project and needs a dev environment? Choose the appropriate request in vRA, and within minutes, your server(s) will be deployed with little to no intervention by the IT team.  And because the environment is based on blueprints that have already been agreed upon by the two teams, the risk and costs are controlled.

 

Ownership

With automated workflows and processes, you can enable your AppDev teams to have control over their infrastructure resources. Giving them ownership accelerates the level of respect for their resources and as a result, improves decision making and develops a better understanding of each other’s challenges.

 

Collaboration

Lastly, vRA and vRO can enable collaboration across teams. With more control, there’s often a different tone between teams. As a result, you can make the rules together, set the limits and build the blueprints. It transforms how you work together and meet key business challenges that are presented jointly to your teams.

 

What do I do now?

As you get started with vRA and vRO, there are a few things to consider:

 

Have a plan.

Prior to starting with vRA and vRO, the first step is to take step back and look at the different teams you are supporting.  Ask yourself some questions. What would the perfect scenario look like? What are our risks? Where does our value reside? This will get you thinking about how you are going to execute. The best case would be to work with your teams to build a roadmap that everyone agrees upon, and then start your execution.

 

Create an approval committee.

Once you have an idea of the teams involved, develop an approval committee to ensure that you have representation across teams. Your needs will change due to change in your business, technology and associated priorities. With a cohesive approval committee that represent all teams, it’ll be easier to make changes to respond to the environment.

 

Get an outside perspective.

Reaching outside of your approval committee, perhaps to an analyst on another team or even, if you have the resources, an external consultant can give you perspective on what workflows within vRA and vRO make the most sense for your roadmap. Because they may have more experience in building out the roadmap, it can often bring solutions that you otherwise may not have considered. 

 

Test before it’s final.

Once you build out your blueprints and workflows, enable the teams that will use the workflows to test it out. If the team has a say in how the services will be delivered, they will more likely be on board with the changes — as well as give you feedback on how to improve so that they are truly able to streamline processes and optimize their workflows.

 

In future blogs, we’ll provide more insight into how you can leverage vRA and vRO to solve business challenges.

 

 

Who is Blue Medora Labs?

Blue Medora Labs is the professional services arm of Blue Medora.  We provide custom integration with various components of the vRealize Operations Suite, as well as professional services utilizing more out of the box functionality.  We help our customers and partners provide a user experience which is more customized to their unique business challenges.

How to Optimize Your Workflows with vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestrator

by bluemedora_editor on March 1, 2017

By: Scott Walsh

Here at Blue Medora Labs, our focus is helping our customers leverage products related to our platform extensions that we offer customers at Blue Medora through our True Visibility Suite for key platforms like vRealize Operations and vRealize Orchestrator.

This blog post kicks off a series where I’ll highlight how you can streamline your process and maximize your investment with vRealize Automation (vRA) and vRealize Orchestrator (vRO). Throughout the series, I’ll showcase some real-world examples we are seeing with current customers, how we are leveraging the technology in our environment, and key tips that will get you started building solutions specific to your business scenarios as well.

 

What are vRA and vRO?

Example of a blueprint in vRealize Automation
[source]
 

vRealize Automation consists of a self service dashboard, capabilities to build out blueprints for infrastructure resources (or combinations of resources), and the ability to create integrations with major on-premises, and cloud-based industry infrastructure endpoints. Essentially, vRA allows you to define your infrastructure, and surface functionality that will allow you to provide more of a self service experience to your users.

How you can define your own workflow in vRealize Orchestrator
 

vRealize Orchestrator is the workflow engine that allows you to extend the capabilities within vRA to allow for more elaborate and custom interactions to happen. vRO can be called from other applications such as vRealize Operations Manager, and has full REST capabilities to call out to external resources. The focus of vRO is workflow, and it can be your swiss army knife when trying to address more complex fulfillment scenarios.

 

What is the difference between vRA and vRO?

vRealize Automation and vRealize Orchestrator are easily distinguishable, but because they work so well in tandem, the line where one platform ends and the other starts can seem to be blurred.

At the most high level, vRA, and vRO allow you to fulfill requests for infrastructure resources in an automated fashion. The step-by-step process can be broken down by which technology fulfills that portion of the request. Below are a couple of scenarios to help illustrate this point.

 

Example 1: Application Development Resource Request

Request Fulfilled By
Application Development Lead requests new development environment vRealize Automation Self Service Portal
Request gets routed for approval based on requested specifications (RAM/CPU/Etc.) vRealize Automation Approval Workflow
Once approved, resources are provisioned vRealize Automation based on specified Resource Blueprints
Initiating user is provided access to resources vRealize Automation Self Service Portal

 

Example 2: Prepare Web Server(s) for Maintenance

Request Fulfilled By
IT Resource initiates Web Server(s) Maintenance Request vRealize Automation Self Service Portal
Workflow kicks off and drains F5 Pools to eliminate load on web server(s) and notifies initiator when servers are ready for maintenance Custom vRealize Orchestrator Workflow kicked off by vRealize Automation request

 

Example 3: Automatically Resolve Host Resource Contention

Request Fulfilled By
vRealize Operations shows CPU/Storage contention within Host vRealize Operations Manager
Based on rules, vRealize Operations Manager initiates workflow to adjust compute/storage resource(s) and notify Virtualization Administrator of change vRealize Orchestrator Workflow initiated by vRealize Operations Manager

 

These are very simple examples, but they illustrate how well vRA and vRO work together. That being said, I often recommend to our customers that instead of focusing on how to differentiate, see how you leverage them together to solve your business use cases and streamline your processes.  

Architect your solution, and apply the appropriate technology.  If you are fulfilling simple resource provisioning requests, you can probably achieve this within vRA with a simple workflow and blueprint.  

If there is some customization needed in the workflow, you may have to jump to vRO. At the same time, if you want automated workflows kicked off from outside resources, vRO is probably your starting point, but you may still rely on vRA blueprints.

In our next post in this series, I will highlight how you can use vRO/vRA — including some pointers on how to set it up.

 

Blue Medora Labs is the professional services arm of Blue Medora.  We provide custom integration with various components of the vRealize Operations Suite, as well as professional services utilizing more out of the box functionality.  We help our customers and partners provide a user experience which is more customized to their unique business challenges.

Thank you for contacting us. Your information was received. We'll be in touch shortly.