vRealize Automation 8.0 – A lot has changed!

Hello Everyone!

It is always good to refresh new products/new features coming in Industry (Although it’s been a year that vRA 8.0 has been released but it’s still new to many!). So, in this blog post, I’ll try to give an insight on new vRealize Automation 8.0 Architecture and will talk about what exactly has changed.

“vRealize Automation automates the delivery of virtual machines, applications, and personalized IT services across different data centers and hybrid cloud environments.”

vRealize Automation 8.0 is a huge change! What was previously used to known as CAS – Cloud Automation services is now vRealize Automation Cloud and it has its own on-premise version which is nothing but vRealize Automation 8.0. One thing to note here is vRA cloud and vRA 8.0 share the same code base and offer the same user experience, the main difference involves how they are delivered!

Difference between 8.0 and previous versions

More information about the product – https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/index.html?topic=%252Fcom.vmware.vra.programming.doc%252FGUID-75940FA3-1C17-451C-86FF-638E02B7E3DD.html

vRealize Automation 8.0

vRealize Automation 8.0 brings the vRealize Automation Cloud capabilities to the on-premises form factor. This release modernizes the vRA 8 architecture and capability set to enable enhanced agility, efficiency, and governance in the enterprise.

In Simple Terms, vRA 8.0 is an on-premises solution of vRealize Automation Cloud.

This release of vRealize Automation uses a Kubernetes based micro-services architecture. The new release takes a modern approach to delivering hybrid cloud management, extending cloud management to public clouds, delivering applications with DevOps and managing Kubernetes based workloads.

vRealize Automation Components

It contains four core components –

1. VMware Cloud Assembly: Cloud assembly is a cloud-based service that you use to create and deploy machines, applications, and services to multiple clouds like Google Cloud, Native AWS, Azure and VMC on AWS. Cloud assembly provides multiple key features-

  • Multiple cloud accounts.
  • Infrastructure as a code: Supports blueprints with versioning.
  • Self-service Provisioning.
  • Marketplace: Integrates with website called solutionexchange.vmware.com. This has published built-in blueprints that can be accessed through Marketplace.
  • Extensibility: Built-in feature of vRA. You can use XaaS feature for custom queries.
  • Kubernetes Integration: You can deploy Kubernetes cluster through vRA or you can also import existing Kubernetes cluster to vRA.

2. VMware Service Broker: Service Broker aggregates content in native formats from multiple clouds and platforms into a common/single catalog for easy consumption on VMware Cloud.

3. VMware Code Stream: Code stream is a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CICD) software that enables you to deliver software rapidly and reliably, with little overhead.

4. Orchestrator: takes care of 3rd party integrations, custom scripting and supporting lifecycle action through the Event Broker Service.

Since Cloud Assembly, Code Stream, Orchestrator and Service Broker exist in same appliance, logins are passed between applications. Users can swap seamlessly without logging in each time!

vRealize Automation Architecture

vRA Appliance is powered by a Photon OS Base. It includes native Kubernetes installed on the OS to host containerized services. Now, what does that mean? When the vRealize Automation appliance is deployed, at the first boot, docker is installed and kubernetes clusters are configured. Then, Docker images are stored in a private Docker registry on the appliance.

Role of Kubernetes

Those who doesn’t know what HELM is -It is a package manager for Kubernetes. Helm packages, configures, and deploys applications and services onto Kubernetes clusters. Helm takes images that are stored in a private Docker registry on the appliance and deploys Kubernetes services that are running as pods.

vRealize Automation has 16 core services and all the services are deployed and managed as Pods with each having its own web server running on Kubernetes cluster.

vRealize Automation Architecture

There are two more components which also get installed as a part of vRealize Automation On-premises solution.

  • VMware Lifecycle Manager (LCM): It provides a single installation and management platform for various products in vRealize suite. It delivers complete lifecycle and content management capabilities for vRealize Suite products. It helps customers accelerate time to value by automating deployment, upgrades, and configuration, while bringing DevOps principles to the management of vRealize Suite content. It provides a single installation and management platform.

  • VMware Identity Manager (IDM): It is an Identity as a service (IDaas)) solution. It provides application provisioning, conditional access controls, and single sign-on (SSO) for SaaS, web, cloud and native mobile applications.

Namespaces

Namespaces are a way to divide Kubernetes cluster resources between multiple users. All the core vRealize Automation services run as Kubernetes pods within the namespace called “prelude”. You can explore vRA environment using some of the below commands on vRA appliance using SSH –

  1. To list all the pods running –

kubectl get pods -n prelude

  • To get the number of containers in a pod –

kubectl describe pod <pod_name> -n prelude

  • To list all the services running –

kubectl get services -n prelude

  • To list the deployments running –

 kubectl get deployments -n prelude

(A deployment is responsible for keeping a set of pods running.)

Key Takeaways

  • All the core vRA services run as Pods with each having its own Kubernetes cluster.
  • vRealize Automation 8 cannot be installed on your own Kubernetes environment. It comes in the form of an appliance with all the bits and pieces needed to run vRA 8 and this is the only way VMware can support it.
  • Besides the four core vRealize Automation 8 components, Code Assembly, Service Broker, Code Stream and Orchestrator, two supporting services such as vRealize Identity Manager and vRealize Lifecycle Manager are needed to install and run vRealize Automation 8.
  • If you don’t have a LCM and/or IDM instance running, the easy installer will set one up for you. But you can also use existing LCM and IDM configurations for vRealize Automation 8 as well.
  • There is no Windows IaaS server in vRA 8.0.

References

https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2020/03/vrealize-automation-8-architecture.html

https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/8.0/rn/vRealize-Automation-80-release-notes.html

https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Automation/index.html?topic=%252Fcom.vmware.vra.programming.doc%252FGUID-75940FA3-1C17-451C-86FF-638E02B7E3DD.html

I hope this article was helpful. Any suggestions/comments are highly appreciated!

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