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Can VMware exploit its VRealize refresh?

Battle beyond terrible packaging

Sysadmin blog VMware's VRealize suite for management and orchestration recently received its bi-annual refresh for hybrid-cloud wranglers.

The vRealize brand is at the core of VMware's cloud play. It's also a meaningless bit of marketing jibber-jabber that VMware slaps in front of a swatch of products that share no connection whatsoever. Channeling a mid-aughties Microsoft System Center, vRealize is trying to become a real boy. Amid the flailing and punches thrown at rivals, however, a general direction of movement can be discerned.

First, let's look at what's in vRealize. The products sharing the moniker consist of vRealize Automation (vRA), vRealize Business (vRB), vRealize Code Stream (vRCS), vRealize Log Insight (vRLI), vRealize Network Insight (vRNI, or Vernie to its friends), vRealize Operations (vROps), vRealize Orchestrator (vRO).


The VMware vCloud suite, the brand that makes the most sense to provide someone with what they need to build a cloud, consists [PDF] of the ESXi hypervisor, the vSphere server, vRA, vROps and vRB. VMware says NSX and VSAN are optional, but I say leaving NSX out of any VMware private cloud makes you a crazy person. If you want to play in the clouds, you're going to be playing at scale, and you don't play at scale these days without some means of making your networking easy.

Some of what appears to be missing has been rolled up into existing products. vFabric Data Director(software that helps with database virtualization) now comes as part of vRA, so there's that. But I'd argue that the absent vRNI is a must. Actually, I'm increasingly leaning towards saying that vRNI is essential for any VMware deployment, but that's a conversation for another day. Next I start asking questions about how exactly one plans to stand up a cloud without orchestration. vRO is essential - and also available for free - but not a part of the vCloud suite.

So vRealize products are critical to making a VMware-based cloud. Some of them are included in the vCloud suite, which is a bundle of products packaged together into a single SKU to make it easier to sell. Of course, you'll still need to go buy additional vRealize products to make it work.

VMware also offers a vRealize Suite, which is closer to containing all the pieces needed for a proper cloud: vRA, vRB, vRLI, vRO and vROps. No NSX, however, and no vRNI.

This is my sad face.

Despite VMware's terrible packaging, with the latest updates to the vRealize suite VMware finally has all the pieces needed to offer a proper hybrid cloud. Building it, however, is not going to be cheap and will devolve into a licensing nightmare that would make Microsoft proud.

Capable products

Despite the griping about the packaging, the nerds VMware has chained up in their Palo Alto dungeon have responded well to the snacks thrown over the roof by the suits. vROps 6.6, recently soft-launched by VMware and expected to actually be something we can all enjoy in time for VMware's annual VMworld conference, contains multiple goodies.

The two bits that really matter are that vROps now has VSAN management capabilities, vRA plays nice with NSX and – most important of all – that VMware has embraced the recipe-based future. Configuration management tools (read: Puppet) are now first-class citizens. I smell a pending acquisition.

VMware has also decided that having a functioning marketplace for its cloudy offering is perhaps a good plan, and slowly but surely it is assembling all the pieces necessary to build an Infrastructure Endgame Machine.

It took them long enough. Now we just have to beat them about the ears with a herring until they figure out how to put it all together into an easily consumable package. Or a shrubbery shows up. Whichever happens first.

It's easy to dismiss the updates to the vRealize products, but this would be a mistake. Despite the griping above, 2017's revamp of assorted vRealize products, NSX, VSAN, Photon and vSphere are collectively amazing.

Yes, it is true that no individual product in VMware's portfolio has accomplished a wow factor update. VMware has no vMotion-class surprises for us, not even their upcoming Bromium-like App Defence.

Despite the lack of wow factor, VMware's 2017 products have received a spit-and-polish update that takes a lot of the concepts VMware had been tinkering with beyond the science project stage and delivers solutions ready for mainstream use. VMware's 2017 lineup is to VMware's 2015 products what Office 2010 was to Office 2007.

I don't say this lightly. I like yelling at VMware and telling them to solve ease-of-use issues. It gives me something to do on Slack when I'm bored.

VMware has the technology. Now it has to decide if it wants to actually do something useful with it.

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