vRealize Operations Manager 7 Tech Review

All Credit to John Dias for this report on vRealize Operations Manager

Looking forward to updating and checking the new What-IF planning and migrating options.

 

It has arrived, and we are officially in a new era with vRealize Operations 7.0 which brings advancements in Self-Driving Operations to VMware customers running private, public and hybrid cloud environments.  The party was just getting started when we improved the capacity engine in the 6.7 release.  In 7.0, you can now put your self-driving into… well, overdrive!

In this blog post I will give you a technical overview of new and improved features in vRealize Operations 7.0.  Other blogs will follow with deep detail on each of these, so keep checking back to this blog space.

Overall, there has been a lot of work done in the following areas:

  • Workload Optimization has new host-based placement, fully automated mode, a historical view, integration with vRealize Automation and more.
  • Capacity improvements include new What-If scenarios for physical infrastructure planning and cloud migration.  Also added is the ability to include application costs in your cost models.
  • You like dashboards?  You are going to love the new dashboard creation canvas!  Also, we have now given you the ability to share dashboards with anyone – no login to vRealize Operations required!  Improved dashboard management for orphaned content and dashboard sharing round out the list of exciting enhancements to dashboard management.
  • But wait, that’s not all!  We have a lot more goodies to share with you such improved widgets, usability improvements, new compliance content and a few new and improved management packs to top everything off.

Let’s get started!

Workload Optimization in Overdrive

 

In the previous release, vRealize Operations allowed customers to set Business Intent to apply and enforcement placement of VMs between clusters.  For example, making sure that VMs running Oracle or Microsoft software were always placed on licensed clusters.  Now you can easily see if you have tag violations in the Workload Optimization dashboard so that you know when you need to optimize for Business Intent as well as Operational Intent.

If you don’t feel like logging in a clicking a button, no problem.  vRealize Operations 7.0 enables full automation of Workload Optimization so you can be sure your workloads are meeting both business and operational intents around the clock.

A simple click of the Automate button and vRealize Operations takes over.  Here’s how it works:

  • Every 5 minutes vRealize Operations checks the optimization status of your Datacenters and Custom Datacenters. If it finds that a DC/CDC needs to be optimized, it runs optimization automatically for you.
  • Schedules for Workload Optimization are disabled while Automation is turned on. They are reenabled when Automation is turned off.
  • If you wish, you can still run an optimization on demand. Simply disable Automation and the Optimize Now button will be active again.

You may ask, “How do I know what vRealize Operations is doing when Workload Optimization is automated?”  And that’s a great question and brings me to the next new feature – Workload Optimization History.

From the Workload Optimization page, you can open the History tab and select any WLP process to view its history.  Above you can see this applies to automated and non-automated optimizations.

Once selected, a playback feature allows you to view the migrations that were initiated as part of the optimization for the selected timeframe (up to the previous 7 days).  You can adjust replay speed, pause, zoom and more.

You can even hover over specific moves to find out which VMs move and the start/end times for the optimization.  Self-driving operations with complete visibility, including the rear-view camera!

Now let’s talk about a new Business Intent capability in vRealize Operations 7.0 – Host Based Placement.

Now you can take Workload Optimization down to host level to enforce placement of VMs as needed to address software licensing, compliance, SLA tiering and more.  Recall we mentioned using Workload Optimization at a cluster level to make sure VMs don’t land on clusters that weren’t licensed for software the VMs are running.  Many customers don’t want to put all their software “eggs” in a single cluster “basket” to reduce risk and increase efficiency.  Now, you can apply licensing at a host level and apply business intent to make sure VMs are on the correct hosts, depending on software, OS or any other business reason.

Again, this capability uses vSphere tagging to match VMs with hosts – and it works cross cluster as well.

There is so much more to talk about with Workload Optimization in 7.0 but I want to wrap up with this important update.  vRealize Operations 7.0 and vRealize Automation 7.5 work together to provide closed-loop cloud management.  There are three key capabilities with this integration.

First, you can now see KPIs for CPU, memory, storage and network IO for VMs in a deployment from vRealize Automation, giving application owners visibility into VM performance.

Next, for Day 1, vRealize Automation will consult vRealize Operations for best placement of VMs in deployments.  So, rather than taking a “round-robin” approach, placement is made using vRealize Operations advanced machine learning to avoid performance bottlenecks.

Finally, for Day 2, vRealize Operations will observe and obey business intent set by vRealize Automation reservation policy.  Specifically, this means that vRealize Operations 7.0 is fully aware of vRealize Automation 7.5 deployments and reservations.  In fact, it will automatically create a Custom Datacenter (CDC) for each vRealize Automation managed vCenter.  Further, vRealize Operations knows that vRealize Automation manages business intent through its own policy and governance – so there is no need to set Business Intent in vRealize Operations for vRealize Automation CDCs.  VMs will be moved only within their reservation and reservation policy will be applied.

What-If Expanded and Other Capacity Updates

 

Two new What-If scenarios are added in vRealize Operations 7.0.

  • Physical Infrastructure Planning
  • Migration Planning

These provide more options for using vRealize Operations capacity analysis to understand how changes to your infrastructure will impact resources and give insight into the true cost of migrating workloads to AWS or VMware Cloud on AWS.

These scenarios work like the Workload Planning scenario delivered in vRealize Operations 6.7 – you create the scenario based on your requirements and you can run it to get results as well as save it for running again later.

In addition to the new scenarios, you can now account for application costs by creating an application and assigning a fixed monthly cost in the Cost Settings.  The costs are shown after the next cost calculation (every 24 hours).

The monthly cost is distributed equally to each VM within the application.

Other capacity enhancements include “exponential decay” and “periodicity” which I will explain briefly:

  • Exponential decay allows recent demand to be more heavily weighted in forecast projections.
  • Calendar aware periodicity observes demand by day, recognizing patterns that occur, such as last day of the month or the first and third Monday of the month.

Together, these drive higher accuracy in capacity models and forecasts.

Also, there are some capacity metric changes you should be aware of in vRealize Operations 7.0.

  • Memory|Usage(%) – uses Guest Needed Memory (KB) when available and fails back to Memory|Non Zero Active (KB). Use this for dashboards and reports if aggressive usage numbers are desired.
  • Memory|Usage(KB) – remains unchanged. It uses Guest Needed Memory (KB) when available and fails back to Memory|Consumed (KB). Workload, demand, and capacity calculations will remain conservative.

To take advantage of these changes, you should be running:

  • vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1 or higher
  • ESXi 6.0 Update 1 or higher
  • VMware Tools 10.3.2 or 10.2.7 hot patch (Windows)
  • VMware Tools 9.10.5 (Linux)

Dashboards – Create, Manage, Share

 

Most customers really like to create their own custom dashboards.  It has been one of the most popular features of vRealize Operations since the early days and in 7.0 it got a serious overhaul.  Seriously, this is going to blow your mind.

First up is the new Dashboard Canvas.  Creating and editing dashboard content is now done on a nice grid-style canvas with drag and drop capability for widget placement and sizing.  Also, dashboard interactions are easier to visualize and establish as you can see from this screen capture:

Mind blown yet?  OK, check this out –

See the share icon on this dashboard?  When you click it, you get the ability to:

  • Create a unique URL for anyone to view the dashboard without logging in to vRealize Operations (with expiration)
  • Email the dashboard to anyone
  • Copy code to embed the dashboard into a web page
  • Share with vRealize Operations groups
  • Export the dashboard to share with the community (have you seen the new Dashboard Repository?)

This has been one of the most frequently requested features and our product team delivered a flaming arrow of dashboard hotness!

Not only does this deliver the ability to share content with your organization (leadership, app owners, business managers and more) but also gives you more and better control over dashboard sharing.  For example, do you want to limit the dashboards that a group in vRealize Operations can view?  Maybe an application owner would like a custom dashboard, but you don’t want them poking around in your other dashboards.

Now, in vRealize Operations 7.0 you can provide specific dashboard access to vRealize Operations groups, with the ability to strictly limit access to the dashboards you want them to see.  That way, application owners will only see custom dashboards for their apps and not have access to infrastructure dashboards.

Finally, have you ever had someone create dashboards and then leave the organization?  Now you can find “orphaned” content in vRealize Operations 7.0 and reassign ownership to a different user.

The Best of the Rest

 

Wow, that’s a lot so far but there are a few other goodies I want to cover before I conclude this post.  Improvements with some of the widgets were include in 7.0.  Here’s a brief list:

  • You can now run actions directly from the Alerts Page without opening the alert first
  • The Alerts List widget now allows filtering by alerts with associated actions
  • Line Chart widget and Trend View now have the ability to set custom threshold lines (Warning, Immediate, Critical) to make viewing data easier to understand
  • Pie Chart and Bar Chart widgets now provide a list of objects represented by each “pie” or “bar” when you click on that section.
  • Additional filtering for List View to allow you to filter by ancestor objects.

Other improvements that will make you happy:

  • Smarter Super Metrics that automatically convert string to numbers when the property or metric would be useful in a formula.
  • Super Metrics string operations for the “Where” clause in formulas to evaluate strings such as equals, contains, starts with and ends with options (along with a “!” negator).
  • Search can be limited to specific items (like dashboards, alerts, view, symptoms, Super Metrics)
  • UI cluster controls for enabling SSH on nodes and configuring NTP for the cluster
  • Date range selector in the All Metrics screen to limit viewing to a time frame.

Mind…. BLOWN!

We hope you are as excited about vRealize Operations 7.0 as we are and believe me, I have only scratched the surface on all the great improvements made in this release.  Be sure to watch for more blogs in the next few weeks with deeper details on the above-mentioned features and other items such as new and improved management packs.  To name a few:

  • vSAN management improvements
  • New and improved Physical Storage management pack
  • vRealize Orchestrator Management pack 2.0
  • AWS Management pack
  • New compliance content for FISMA, DISA, ISO, CIS

Also, be sure to visit and bookmark the vRealize Suite Technical Guides web site for links to more videos, demos, guided tours and the new Dashboard Repository.

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