The Cranky Admin

vROps Gets Important Updates

The Distributed Resource Scheduler (pDRS) is a major upgrade.

VMware launched vRealize Operations (vROps) 6.6 in mid-June. Though some components were still at the soft launch state then, the update represents a major usability milestone, and one of the most substantive updates since the various applications were pulled together into the vRealize banner.

vRealize has been a bit of a mess ever since VMware started using the label. Beginning life as a marketing term, it has seemed a mishmash of poorly integrated products lashed together without much thought. A common comparison would be Microsoft System Center, circa 2005. Given the headaches involved in installing and configuring the entire suite, the comparison, while unkind, has been entirely fair.

To get to a proper private cloud with capabilities rivaling Amazon Web Services (AWS), you need to combine several vRealize bits, several vCloud bits, vSphere, NSX and the vFabric Data connector that allows for database virtualization. Given how much this will cost, you might as well go for vSAN, too, and bargain for a discount.

Being able to stand up virtual machines (VMs) and tear them down with a self-service portal is only one part of a private cloud solution. It's the core of it, but the competition out there isn't just other private cloud players, but AWS is quite a mature and capable offering, in no small part due to the integration of advanced management, automation, analytics and recipe-based workload delivery.

With this release of vROps, VMware is finally approaching a private cloud solution that's truly usable by the mass market. The rough edges regarding installation and configuration are slowly being sanded off. More important, vROps 6.6 represents a substantial effort in integrating the various components, advancing vRealize as a whole toward something that might one day help deliver a turnkey hybrid cloud solution that meets modern expectations of what a cloud should be.

What's in the Update
The predictive Distributed Resource Scheduler (pDRS) is one of the headline items. It basically makes DRS more proactive and starts to close the gap between VMware and Turbonomic in this area.

vROps now comes with vSAN management capabilities built in, which means no more downloading a management pack. A minor improvement to be sure, but this is exactly the sort of annoyance-removal update that makes the sysadmin in me happy. Setting up environments from scratch is rarely fun.

vROps also gains a new tab containing vRealize Business for Cloud 7.3. This is basically a cost calculator for AWS, Azure and on-premises VMware private cloud deployments. In a similar blending of on-premises and public cloud capabilities, vRNI gains AWS support.

Recipes!
vRA finally gets enough support for NSX to useably start automating NSX-enabled environments. Support for Azure has been added, and the addition of Admiral brings a self-service portal to Photon container management.

Perhaps more important, support for configuration management tools (for example, Puppet) is no longer lackluster and awful. This collectively gets us a proper recipe-based deployment solution (VMware calls them blueprints), the lack of which has been holding VMware back for a long time.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance not only of recipes, but of a fully supported marketplace in which these recipes live. Providing a robust and complete recipe engine is critical to creating a modern cloud solution. The "pets" model of every workload being special and cared for—emphasized in the clone-based templates of olden times—doesn't work in today's world. There are too many workloads under management.

The marketplace bit is an ease-of-use layer akin to making product installation something other than a nightmare. Having vendor-supported pre-canned recipes for common workloads not only helps get a private cloud off the ground in short order, but provides a reference point from which to create custom recipes for organization-specific workloads.

The move to configuration management will take time in some organizations, but it's both absolutely essential and inevitable. Seeing configuration management made a first-class citizen within VMware's ecosystem of applications is a good thing.

About the Author

Trevor Pott is a full-time nerd from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He splits his time between systems administration, technology writing, and consulting. As a consultant he helps Silicon Valley startups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

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