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IT Teams Need To Finally Implement Self-Service Automation

Seven things, including Self-Service Automation, that IT teams must do to retain relevance with end users.

I was talking with an industry analyst (think Gartner, Forrester, IDC) the other day around a broad range of trends impacting IT. Somehow we got onto a discussion around the issue of IT teams losing relevance with their line of business customers. I can&#rsquo;t recall the conversation exactly but it went something like this. &#rsquo;David, I talk with different IT teams every week and many of them ask me the same question: &#rsquo;What can we as IT do to be more relevant to our end users [line of business]?&#rdquo;.

Jim (not his real name) told me that the first question he asks these teams in response is &#rsquo;Are you offering your customers self-service?&#rdquo;. This analyst told me that the answer he hears back most often is &#rsquo;no, we haven&#rsquo;t gotten to that yet&#rdquo;. Jim then goes on to advise these teams to A) leverage an automated approach to service delivery to speed up resource delivery (if they are not already doing so); and B) be sure to also implement self-service that makes it drop dead easy for end users to get the services they want.

If you think about it, not implementing self-service is denying the reality that line of business partners have choices beyond enterprise IT. It also fails to recognize that increasingly our expectations of how things should work, at work, are shaped by our personal and consumer experiences. Self-service and the near instant gratification that comes from it just makes more sense today than submitting tickets and waiting weeks for resources to be available for your next critical project.

My Top &#rsquo;X&#rdquo; List For IT

This exchange got me thinking about the big-ticket items that most IT teams must tackle to be more relevant to their end users. If the # 1 thing that IT teams must do to retain or regain relevance is embrace self-service; what does a top ten list look like? Sorry to disappoint but I don&#rsquo;t have a top ten list. There are however some things that I feel do stand apart from the rest of the pack when it comes to looking at how IT operates. So, in that spirit here is my list of the top seven things IT must do to remain relevant.

1. Implement Self Service for Resource Requests
2. Market IT Services to your End Users
3. Enable Infrastructure as Code
4. Become an IT Developer
5. Begin to Think about Multi-Cloud Networking
6. Go Beyond Infrastructure and Deliver Complete Stacks
7. Help App Dev Teams Move Containers to Production

There are undoubtedly other things that IT teams can do that would increase their relevance to line-of-business (LOB) partners. Having said that, I do think this is a pretty good list to start with. There&#rsquo;s too much here to cover in a single blog so I&#rsquo;ll elaborate on each of these in this blog and several others that will follow. Hopefully, along the way I will provide you enough insight on each to give you a good idea of what it is that IT must do along with some additional thoughts on how to get it done.

Starting with Self Service

According to Wikipedia and depending on how you look at it, Amazon Web Serviceshas been around since 2002 or 2006. Early adopters flocked to it because of two reasons in my opinion. The first reason was an ability to get infrastructure fast. The second reason was the ability to get these resources without having to file one or more tickets with the help desk.

Today, implementing the ability to get end users resources fast is simply a matter of automation. Many organizations have adopted automation to dramatically speed up the provisioning of infrastructure resources. Application level resources is a different matter but we&#rsquo;ll cover that elsewhere.

I have first-hand experience talking with many IT teams who used to take 4 or more weeks to provision resources in the past but now routinely do it in under in under thirty minutes. Of course, with Amazon you can get those resources in just a few minutes, so taking 30 minutes or so is still longer than what it would take using AWS. But let&#rsquo;s be honest - how many developers find out about a project and then need to be coding it 5 minutes later? Thirty minutes is plenty fast for most needs.

While many organizations have, or are in the process of adopting automation to speed up service delivery, not nearly as many have implemented self-service as part of that process. Many still rely on existing request fulfilment processes that existed before automation was implemented. The most common example of this is organizations using Service Now for requesting resources, which in turn generates a ticket to the platform automation team which then initiates an automated process to fulfill the request.

Leveraging an existing ticketing process isn&#rsquo;t necessarily a bad approach and there are some good reasons for doing it. The main reason that I am aware of is that this approach means that any existing process for determining who has access to specific resources doesn&#rsquo;t need to be re-codified into the automation that supports self-service.

That&#rsquo;s not a bad reason to keep the existing process, but remember that if you are an internal IT team, your competing with the public cloud and on the public cloud – self-service means self-service. No tickets and no help desk. So, going the extra mile to enable true self service where entitlements and other forms of governance are matched between users and resources might be worth it for your IT team given the world we live and compete in.

Now a few caveats around the idea of self-service. Different end users have different needs. Many end users are perfectly happy selecting resources from a pre-populated catalog. VMware vRealize Automationis a great example of an automation platform that supports this model of self-service.

In this model, blueprints can be created to represent everything from a single machine to a complex, multi-tier application, with storage, networking, security and even monitoring agents all represented in the blueprint. These blueprints then become catalog items that once selected by end user are instantiated in near real time.

Other users might prefer a self-service model that is closer to what they would experience on Amazon. This model is declarative in nature and resources are requested either through a CLI or through an API (using scripts or through another tool) in the form of small building blocks that represent infrastructure elements such as compute, storage, or network. For IT teams looking for such a model to satisfy their end users, VMware Integrated OpenStack(VIO) might be the best choice for a service delivery automation platform.

A hybrid model might be the best choice for others. In this model vRealize Automation is used to offer VM level resources from a catalog but it is also used to reserve resources for a VIO based developer cloud that an App Dev team would like to implement. In this model vRealize Automation would also be used to provision the components necessary to instantiate a VIO based Developer Cloud for that same App Dev team.

Just for completeness, I should point out that vRealize Automation can also support the idea of blueprints as code, where blueprints are created or modified using YAML. These blueprints can then be imported into vRealize Automation and offered to end users through the catalog. These same blueprints can of course be exported as YAML as well.

The Right Self-Service Model for Your End Users

Hopefully you can see that solutions to the self-service problem exist along a continuum. Figuring out what type of self-service model to implement is very much a function of understanding your users. There are different approaches and you won&#rsquo;t be sure which approach makes the most sense unless you are actively engaged in understanding the needs of your users.

Having a deep understanding of what your end users need is also the prerequisite for our next &#rsquo;must do item&#rdquo; which is effectively marketing what you do offer to your end users. More to come on that in the next installment of this series.

Learn More

• Visit VMware vRealize productpage
• Visit VMware Integrated OpenStack product page
• Try our Automate ITHands-on Labs
• Try our Intelligent OperationsHands-on Labs

The post IT Teams Need To Finally Implement Self-Service Automation appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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Come and Participate in VMworld Design Studio!

Dear vRealize Operations Customers,

 

Would you like to help define the next generation of vRealize Operations? We invite you to participateintheVMware Design StudioatVMworld 2017 US.

 

What Kind of Study Is This?

In the VMware Design Studio, we will show a few key product directions and design prototypes. This is a unique opportunity to get your voice heard and interact in a small group or 1:1 session with the product teams.

 

This year there will be three topics for vROps: 1) vRealize Operations – New and Improved Capacity Management; 2) vRealize Operations – Exploring New Ways for Application Management; 3) vRealize Lifecycle Management. Customers can sign up for one or more sessions based on their time availability or interests.

 

What&#rsquo;s in it for YOU?

Upon completion of the session, we will offer you very cool &#rsquo;VMware Design Partner&#rdquo; swag!

 

Where and when is Design Studio?

The sessions will be held in in Mandalay Bay Convention Center – 3rd Floor – room Palm H from Monday 8/28 thru Thursday 8/31

 

To schedule a session, contact Ashley . Or go to this link to signup:www.bit.do/vrops2017

 

Plus if you want to learn about other VMware products, please check out other cool sessions here:https://uxresearchers.github.io/lv17-blog/

 

Please act quickly as we will be able to work with just a small set of customers – thank you for your time and your interest in improving VMware products!

 

Thank you! We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Ashley Pan ()

User Experience Researcher @VMware

The post Come and Participate in VMworld Design Studio! appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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PCI-DSS & HIPAA compliance with vRealize Operations

Hardening and Compliance for vSphere

For some time now vRealize Operations has been able to check the vSphere environment against VMware&#rsquo;s vSphere Hardening Guidelines – vRealize Operations vSphere Hardening.

 

More and more organizations have the need to meet certain regulatory requirements, namely PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and others. With the recent release of vRealize Operations 6.6 VMware has also introduced PCI-DSS and HIPAA compliance for vSphere. This is available to clients with vRealize Operations Advanced edition and higher.

 

 

Download and Install the Management Packs for PCI-DSS and HIPAA

Lets start by where you need to go to get this content. Simply go to VMware&#rsquo;s MarketPlace (also known as VMware Solution Exchange) https://marketplace.vmware.com. A simple search on PCI-DSS or HIPAA will get you to the vRealize Operations Management Packs.

 

Install the Management Pack(s) you desire. This is done in the ADMINISTRATION page under SOLUTIONS

 

Enable PCI-DSS and HIPAA compliance for vSphere

Now that the solution management packs are installed simply make sure they are turned on. This is done in the policy by enabling the alerts. Go to step 6 in the policy, and do two searches, the first for PCI DSS and the second for HIPAA

Change the STATE column from &#rsquo;Inherited Blocked&#rdquo; to &#rsquo;Local Enabled&#rdquo; to enable the alerts (essentially enabling the compliance checking)

 

Leveraging the vSphere Hardening Compliance dashboard you will now be able to see any alerts related to PCI DSS and HIPAA in addition to the already available (if turned on) vSphere compliance alerts.

 

 

Object Level View

From here you can also drill into an object check on it’s compliance posture!

 

 

Reports

After installing these solutions Management Packs you will notice that each has installed a compliance report. One for PCI-DSS and the second for HIPAA. This is a great way to check on your compliance posture and make sure that you are trending upwards with time (getting to PCI and HIPAA compliance doesn&#rsquo;t happen over night). Here’s a report snippet below.

 

 

 

vRealize Operations Current Standards Coverage

  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 5.5
  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 6.0
  • PCI DSS 3.2 for vSphere (as of July 2017 – download the management pack)
  • HIPAA for vSphere (as of July 2017 – download the management pack)
  • vSphere Hardening Guidelines for 6.5 (Management Pack is Planned, but I can’t provide any dates - sorry)

 

 

Summary

Want to harden your vSphere environment? Do you need to adhere to PCI-DSS or HIPAA regulatory requirements for your vSphere environment? Visit the VMware market place today! https://marketplace.vmware.com

 

 

The post PCI-DSS & HIPAA compliance with vRealize Operations appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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Manage Capacity and Utilization with vRealize Operations 6.6 Dashboards

I hope you enjoyed my last post around running production operations with out of the box dashboards with vRealize Operations Manager 6.6. While that post was focused on providing you a visibility into your environments, with this post we will drill down into the specific topic of Capacity Management in a Cloud Environment.

While I have worked with most of the roles within an IT organization, I believe the most trivial role is of person managing Capacity of a virtual environment. This role requires one to be on their feet at all the times to ensure they are able to get answers to complex problems that revolve around capacity managment. I tend to divide these complex problems into 5 simple categories:

 

1- How much Capacity do I have?

2- How is it being utilized?

3- How much Capacity is left?

4- When will I run out of Capacity?, and

5- When do I need to trigger the next purchase?

 

While the above questions sound simple, when you apply them to a Software Defined Datacenter, they become extremely complex. The complexity is primarily due to the fact that you are sharing physical resources using the hypervisor between multiple operating systems and applications riding on top of virtual machines. While the focus seems to be capacity, another major dimension which one needs to tak care of is Performance. The above mentioned role is also responsible for ensuring that all the virtual machines which are running in this environment are being Served Well. It is essential that the Capacity owner strikes a balance between Performance and Capacity which makes this problem harder to solve.

WithvRealize Operations 6.6we try to answer these questions with the use of out-of-the box dashboards. It was important that all this valuable IP was easily accessible through a centralized console which acts as an anchor for user of vRealize Operations Manager. In order to achieve this, we introuduced a“Getting Started”dashboard which would step you through some useful categories and use cases.

 

Today we will have a look at the second category which is calledCapacity and Utilization. Here is how this categoryshows up on the Getting Started Page:

As mentioned before, Capacity and Utilization category caters to the teams responsible for tracking the utilization of the provisioned capacity in there virtual infrastructure. The dashboards within this category allow you to take capacity procurement decisions, reduce wastage through reclamation, and track usage trends to avoid performance problems due to capacity shortfalls.

Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :

  • How much capacity I have, how much is used and what are the usage trends for a specific vCenter, datacenter or cluster?
  • How much Disk, vCPU or Memory I can reclaim from large VMs in my environment to reduce wastage & improve performance?
  • Which clusters have the highest resource demands?
  • Which hosts are being heavily utilized and why?
  • Which datastores are running out of disk space and who are the top consumers?
  • How is the storage capacity & utilization of my vSAN environment along with savings achieved by enabling deduplication and compression?

 

Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard:

 

Capacity Overview

The Capacity Overview Dashboard provides you a summary of the total physical capacity available across all your environments being monitored by vRealize Operations Manager. The dashboard provides a summary of CPU, Memory and Storage Capacity provisioned along with the resource reclamation opportunities available in those environments.

Since capacity decisions are mostly tied to logical resource groups, this dashboard allow you to assess Capacity and Utilization at each resource group level such as vCenter, Datacenter, Custom Datacenter or vSphere Cluster. You can quickly select an object and view it’s total capacity and used capacity to understand the current capacity situation. Capacity planning requires you to have visibility into the historical trends and future forecasts, hence the trend views within the dashboard provide you this information to predict how soon you will run out of capacity.

If you plan to report the current capacity situation to others within your organization, you can simply expand the Cluster Capacity Details view on this dashboard and export this as a report for sharing purposes.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Capacity Reclaimable

The Capacity Reclaimable Dashboard provides you a quick view of resource reclamation opportunities within your virtual infrastructure. This dashboard is focused on improving the efficiency of your environment by reducing the wastage of resources. While this wastage is usually caused by idle or powered off virtual machines another biggest contributor to this wastage is oversized virtual machines.

This dashboard allows you to select an environment and quickly view the amount of capacity which can be reclaimed from the environment in form of reclaimable CPU, Memory and Disk Space.

You can start with the view which lists down all the virtual machines running on old snapshots or are powered off. These VMs provide you the opportunity of reclaiming storage by deleting the old snapshots on them or by deleting the unwanted virtual machines. You can take these action right from this view by using the actions framework available within vRealize Operations Manager.

The dashboard provides you recommended best practices around reclaiming CPU and Memory from large virtual machines in your environment. Since large and oversized virtual machines can increase contention between VMs, you can use the phased approach of using aggressive or conservative reclamation techniques to right size your virtual machines.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

vSAN Capacity Overview

The vSAN Capacity Overview dashboard provides an overview of vSAN storage capacity along with savings achieved by enabling dedupe and compression across all your vSAN clusters.

The dashboard allows you to answer key questions around capacity management such as total provisioned capacity, current and historical utilization trends and future procurement requirements. You can view things like capacity remaining, time remaining and storage reclamation opportunities to take effective capacity management decisions.

The dashboard also focuses on how vSAN is using the disk capacity by showing you a distribution of utilization amongst vSAN disks. You can view these details either as an aggregate or at individual cluster level.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Datastore Utilization

The Datastore Utilization dashboard is a quick and easy way to identify storage provisioning and utilization patterns in a virtual infrastructure. It is a best practice to have standard datastore sizes to ensure you can easily manage storage in your virtual environments. The heatmap on this dashboard plots each and every datastore monitored by vRealize Operations Manager and groups them by clusters.

The utilization pattern of these datastores is depicted by colors, where grey represent an underutilized datastore, red represents a datastore running out of disk space and green represents an optimally used datastore.

By selecting a datastore, you can see the past utilization trend and forecasted usage. The view within the dashboard will list all the virtual machines running on the selected datastore and provide you with the opportunity to reclaim storage used by large virtual machines snapshots or powered off VMs.

You can use the vRealize Operations Manager action framework to quickly reclaim resources by deleting the snapshots or unwanted powered off VMs.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Cluster Utilization

The Cluster Utilization dashboard allows you to identify the vSphere clusters that are being heavily consumed from a CPU, memory, disk, and network perspective. High or unexpected resource usage on clusters may result in performance bottlenecks. Using this dashboard you can quickly identify the clusters which are struggling to keep up with the virtual machine demand.

On selecting a cluster with high CPU, Memory, Disk or Network demand, the dashboard provides you with the list of ESXi hosts that are participating in the given cluster. If you notice imbalance between how the hosts within the selected clusters are being used, you might have an opportunity to balance the hosts by moving virtual machines within the cluster.

In situations where the cluster demand has been historically chronic virtual machines should be moved out of these clusters to avoid potential performance issues using Workload Balance. If such patterns are observed on all the clusters in a given environment, it indicates that new capacity might be required to cater to the increase in demand.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Heavy Hitter VMs

The Heavy Hitter VMs dashboard helps you identify virtual machines which are consistently consuming high amount of resources from your virtual infrastructure. In heavily overprovisioned environments, this might create resource bottlenecks resulting in potential performance issues.

With the use of this dashboard you can easily identify the resource utilization trends of each of your vSphere clusters. Along with the utilization trends, you are also provided with a list of Virtual Machines within those clusters based on their resource demands from CPU, Memory, Disk and Network within your environment. The views also analyze the workload pattern of these VMs over the past week to identify heavy hitter VMs which might be running a sustained heavy workload (measured over a day), or bursty workloads (measure using peak demand).

You can export the list of offenders using these views and take appropriate actions to distribute this demand and reduce potential bottlenecks.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Host Utilization

The Host Utilization dashboard allows you to identify the hosts that are being heavily consumed from a CPU, memory, disk, and network perspective. High or unexpected resource usage on hosts may result in performance bottlenecks. Using this dashboard you can quickly identify the hosts which are struggling to keep up with the virtual machine demand. The dashboard also provides you with the list of top 10 virtual machines to easily identify the source of this unexpected demand and take appropriate actions.

Since the demand of resources fluctuates over a period of time, the dashboard allows you to look at demand patterns over the last 24 hours to identify hosts which might have a chronic history of high demand. If such cases virtual machines should be moved out of these hosts to avoid potential performance issues. If such patterns are observed on all the hosts of a given cluster, it indicates that new capacity might be required to cater to the increase in demand.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

VM Utilization

The VM Utilization Dashboard helps the VI Administrator to capture the utilization trends of any virtual machine in their environment. The primary use case is to list down the key properties of a virtual machine and the resource utilization trends for a specific time period and share the same with the VM/Application owners.

The VM/Application owners often want to look at the resource utilization trends at specific time periods where they are expecting high load on applications. Activities like, batch jobs, backup schedules, load testing etc. could be a few examples. The application owners want to ensure that VMs are not consuming 100% of the provisioned resources during these periods as that could lead to resource contention within applications causing performance issues.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

Hope this post will give you insights on how each of these dashboards can help you manage capacity and performance and ensure that you have answer to those difficult questions at the back of you hand. Stay tuned for more information on other categories.

 

The post Manage Capacity and Utilization with vRealize Operations 6.6 Dashboards appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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Introducing “Operations” Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6

Now that you have a sneak preview of the launch of vRealize Operations 6.6, it is time that we unwrap the goodies and take you through the new features in detail. One of my favorite areas of vRealize Operations Manager is Dashboards. A dashboard for me is like an empty canvas which allows you to paint the picture of what is most important to you, when it comes to managing day to day IT operations. Whether you are a help desk engineer, or a CIO, to be successful in your role, you need quick access to meaningful information. While their are numerous tools which will provide you data, the art of filtering down that data into information is what matters when it comes to decision making.

Dashboards being an empty slate, allows you to do so in a quick and efficient manner. This enhanced capability allowed us to create multiple out of the box categories matching the various persona of users in an IT organization. This resulted in a set of out-of-the-box dashboards which will help provide you a jump start into running product operations from Day 1. These dashboards are battle tested in large IT organizations and now are a part of vRealize Operations Manager 6.6.

It was important that all this valuable IP was easily accessible through a centralized console which acts as an anchor for user of vRealize Operations Manager. In order to achieve this, we introuduced a “Getting Started” dashboard which would step you through some useful categories and use cases.

 

Today we will have a look at the first category which is called Operations. Here is how operations shows up on the Getting Started Page:

 

The Operations category is most suitable for roles within an organization who require a summary of important data points to take quick decisions. This could be a member of a NOC team who wants to quickly identify issues and take actions, or executives who want a quick overview of their environments to keep a track of important KPIs.

 

Key questions these dashboards help you answer are :

  • What does the infrastructure inventory look like?
  • What is the alert volume trend in the environment?
  • Are virtual machines being served well?
  • Are there hot-spots in the datacenter I need to worry about?
  • What does the vSAN environment look like and are their optimization opportunities by migrating VMs to vSAN?

 

Let us look at each of these dashboard and I will provide a summary of what these dashboards can do for you along with a quick view of the dashboard.

Datastore Usage Overview

The Datastore Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the virtual machines in your environment using a heatmap. Each virtual machine is represented by a box on the heatmap. Using this dashboard, a NOC administrator can quickly identify virtual machines which are generating high IOPS since the boxes representing the virtual machine are sized by the number of IOPS they are generating.

Along with the storage demand, the color of the boxes represents the latency experienced by these virtual machines from the underlying storage. A NOC administrator can take the next steps in his investigation to find the root cause of this latency and resolve it to avoid potential performance issues.

To see this dashboard in action click here

 

Host Usage Overview

The Host Usage Dashboard is suitable for a NOC environment. The dashboard provides a quick glimpse of all the ESXi hosts in your environment using a heatmap. Using this dashboard the NOC administrator can easily find resource bottlenecks in your environment created due to high Memory Demand, Memory Consumption or CPU Demand.

Since the hosts in the heatmap are grouped by clusters, you can easily find out if you have clusters with high CPU or Memory Load. It can also help you to identify if you have ESXi hosts with the clusters which are not evenly utilized and hence an admin can trigger activities such as workload balance or enable DRS to ensure that hotspots are eliminated.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Operations Overview

The Operations Overview dashboard provides a high level view of objects which make up you virtual environment. It provides you an aggregate view of virtual machine growth trends across your different datacenters being monitored by vRealize Operations Manager.

The dashboard also provides a list of all your datacenters along with inventory information about how many clusters, hosts and virtual machines you are running in each of your datacenters. By selecting a particular datacenter you can zoom into the areas of availability and performance. The dashboard provides a trend of known issues in each of your datacenters based on the alerts which have triggered in the past.

Along with the overall health of your environment, the dashboard also allows you to zoom in at the Virtual Machine level and list out the top 15 virtual machines in the selected datacenter which might be contending for resources.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here



Optimize vSAN Deployments

The Optimize vSAN deployments dashboard is an easy way to device a migration strategy to move virtual machines from your existing storage to your newly deployed vSAN storage. The dashboard provides you with an ability to select your non vSAN datastores which might be struggling to serve the virtual machine IO demand. By selecting the VMs on a given datastore, you can easily identify the historical IO demand and latency trends of a given virtual machine.

You can then find a suitable vSAN datastore which has the space and the performance characteristics to serve the demand of this VM. With a simple move operation within vRealize Operations Manager, you can move the virtual machine from the existing non vSAN datastore to the vSAN datastore.

Once the VM is moved, you can continue to watch the utilization patterns to see how the VM is being served by vSAN.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here


vSAN Operations Overview

The vSAN Operations Overview Dashboard provides an aggregated view of health and performance of your vSAN clusters. While you can get a holistic view of your vSAN environment and what components make up that environment, you can also see the growth trend of virtual machines which are being served by vSAN.

The goal of this dashboard is to help understand the utilization and performance patterns for each of your vSAN clusters by simply selecting one from the provided list. VSAN properties such as Hybrid or All Flash, Dedupe & Compression or a Stretched vSAN cluster can be easily tracked through this dashboard.

Along with the current state, the dashboard also provides you a historic view of performance, utilization, growth trends and events related to vSAN.

To see this dashboard in actionclick here

 

Hope this post will give you insights on how each of these dashboards can help you run smoother operations and ensure that you have answer to those difficult questions at the back of you hand. Stay tuned for more information on other categories.

 

The post Introducing “Operations” Dashboards in vRealize Operations 6.6 appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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July 19th: Getting More Out of vRealize to Monitor Multiple Clouds

Be the multiple clouds hero and manage your entire IT infrastructure proactively. We are continuing our “Getting More Out of VMware vRealize” series with this special webinar on July 19th!

How often does your team run into storage issues, slow applications, network latency or growing multi-clouds? To ensure that your infrastructure platform is available when developers need it, join this special webinar on July 19 and learn how to manage operations across physical, virtual, and multiple cloudsenvironments so you can respond quickly to performance and management issues.

Why Should You Attend?

  • You want to do your job well, which is serving your end-users. Your goal is to ensure the IaaS platform delivers the SLA levels of performance and availability that you promise
  • You need to troubleshoot fast, and see problems before they become serious
  • If you cannot troubleshoot the root cause, at least you need to prove that it is not caused by your IaaS platform
  • Your IaaS platform is healthy, your storage, network, server, hypervisors are all doing well. However, storage is not working and it is impacting your CEO desktop. You want to see all. How each IT resource performs, and how is related to one another.

Join this specialwebinar “Get More Out of VMware: Improve Your Skills From Monitoring Virtual Machines to Multi-Clouds. Be the Hero!”

Date: July 19th 2017

Duration: 90 minutes

Time: 9:30 am PST

Audience: IT Admins, Operations and Capacity teams

What Will You Learn?

  • Proactive performance monitoring, alert management and predictive analytics
  • Cross-cloud visibility spanning heterogeneous on-premises and public cloud resource consumption
  • Accurate, timely cloud cost and capacity management, modeling, and forecasting
  • Automated workload balancing to proactively optimize application and infrastructure performance
  • Native operations management for hyper-converge infrastructure solutions powered by VMware VSAN
  • Moreover, learn best practices to upgrade your existing vSphere licenses as well as getting ready to manage multi-clouds

Be the hero for multi-clouds and present these new capabilities to your team. Our subject matter experts will be on hand to answer your questions during the webinar. Look forward to speaking with you soon!

The post July 19th: Getting More Out of vRealize to Monitor Multiple Clouds appeared first on VMware Cloud Management.

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vRealize Operations 6.6: “I’m too sexy for my skin!”

vRealize Operations 6.6 gets sleeker and sexier in it’s new skin!

On June 13, many of the vRealize Suite components (namely vRealize Operations (vR Ops), vRealize Log Insight (vRLI), and vRealize Business for Cloud (vRBC) had an update GA release. With this latest release of vR Ops a big focus has been on “simplifying the user experience” and “quicker time to value”. We really want to simplify the lives of “Anita” the VI Admin, “Brian” the Infrastructure and Operations Admin, “Ethan” the Fire Fighter.

The slick new HTML 5 UI is based on the Clarity Design System. Upon login to vR Ops you will see the following screen. You will notice that in the left-hand pane we have single-click links to commonly used environment overview dashboards, including Workload Balancing, as well as bringing Log Analytics, and Business and Cost Insights all into one place - vR Ops.

 

 

See the FULL picture!

While we’re here let us first take a quick peek at bringing together Log Analytics with vR Ops. We commonly refer to this as “360 degree troubleshooting” as you are able to troubleshoot across structured and unstructured data in one place.

 

See the BIG picture!

Secondly, take a look at how Cloud Costing and vR Ops come together. Imagine being able to do things like capacity management or forecasting and being able to see the cost associated with these activities, or looking at reclaiming capacity and being able to associate a dollar figure to the potential cost (and resource) savings.

 

BALANCE your life, yes you “Anita”, “Brian” and “Ethan”!

WOW, how about the enhanced Workload Balancing? Validate and modify DRS settings; Rebalance unbalanced Data Centers or Custom Data Centers, and Automate!

 

Persona-Based Content

Let’s head over to the DASHBOARD page. Start with the “Getting Started” dashboard. This is a Persona-Based dashboard that allows the user to look at five different categories of dashboards and very quick open any of them from there. These categories are: Operations, Capacity & Utilization, Performance Troubleshooting, Workload Balance, and Configuration & Compliance. Included in there are also vSAN dashboards as well as vRealize Automation (vRA) dashboards. In this release both vSAN and vRA are natively supported, so anyone using vSAN or vRA can quickly take advantage of this native support.

 

Resolve Issues Faster

What about Alerting? You can now slice-and-dice alerts any which way you want to help you accelerate resolving alerts and fixing issues faster.

 

Secure the Software Defined Data Center

So what about securing the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC)? Well, that’s really important! You can now install - out of band - PCI DSS and HIPAA compliance content for the vSphere environment. This helps organizations with regulatory requirements improve their compliance posture.

 

Summary

vRealize Operations 6.6 has made some incredible improvements inspired by many of you out there that continue to challenge VMware and the Cloud Management Business Unit to do better! Thank you! Simplification; quicker time to value; persona-based dashboards and troubleshooting flows; enhanced fully automatable workload balancing; improved alerting to resolve issues quicker, and better securing the SDDC, are just scratching the surface of what vRealize Operations and vRealize Suite can help you with. I hope you enjoy this release!

 

Download and Try vRealize Operations 6.6 here!

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Automated Workload Balance

Welcome to your lights-out datacenter! With vRealize Operation 6.6 automated workload balance is easier and more controllable than ever. This latest release of vRealize Operation gives you the ability to balance workloads across clusters and datastores, simple controls to govern how much balance you want based on your business needs, three ways to activate it (automated, scheduled or manual), and a powerful dashboard from which you can view and regulate everything related to balance.

Why is workload balance so important?

Workload balance ensures all clusters have enough resources to avoid future contention. Contention is the bane of any VI/Cloud administrator, because it means applications and users are adversely affected. Do these questions sound like something you have faced in the past?

  • I don&#rsquo;t want to have a contention issue with my business critical applications. How do I ensure that clusters don&#rsquo;t get filled up beyond a target utilization level that will ensure there are enough resources for all?
  • If clusters and datastores get full, how can my team build confidence to move VMs around that will guarantee that the VMs and the applications get the resources they want?
  • Budget cuts are happening, I must ensure Windows and Oracle license costs are contained. Can I limit their movement to a few set of clusters that I pay for?

Workload balance attempts to prevent hot spots by intelligently spreading VMs across clusters and datastores. If a cluster is filled to the brim with VMs, any resource spike will cause contention in the cluster. However, if we balance the VMs across clusters, giving each cluster has a little bit of wiggle room, they can better handle with any sudden resource needs. Think of workload balance as an insurance policy against resource contention. Automating this process is KEY because it allows the system to automatically adjust when balance is needed, which means healthier applications, which means more time for you to concentrate on more strategic work and not application babysitting.

Wait a minute doesn&#rsquo;t DRS do that?

Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Storage DRS work to ensure balance and fight contention at the host level where as vRealize Operations workload balance does this at the cluster level. You can think of it like this, DRS is the best solution to automatically mitigate contention WITHIN the cluster and vRealize Operations is the best solution to automatically mitigate contention BETWEEN clusters. Together these create one tightly integrated cohesive solution working together to ensure your applications are always getting the resources they need.

How do other niche product move VMs?

Other products that claim to deal with contention will FIGHT with DRS causing a &#rsquo;ping-pong&#rdquo; affect. This happens when their product moves a VM into a host, but DRS quickly determines its not the RIGHT host for the workload and then moves it to an appropriate host. This causes the VM to be moved multiple times before it is properly placed. This is a waste of overhead and if the ping-ponging gets bad enough can actually CAUSE contention. To resolve this, these products have you turn off DRS all together leaving you without the benefits of DRS like host maintenancemode or affinity and anti-affinityrules or many others. Its like someone giving you a new pair of gloves and then asking you to cut your hands off. It just doesn’t make sense.

So how does automated workload balancework?

vRealize Operations workload balance runs at the datacenter level watches the CPU, memory and disk space across the different clusters therein. When it determines clusters are out of balance it steps in to provide its recommended balance plan highlighting which VMs should be moved to which clusters. It also provides a view of the resource utilization before and after the balance occurs so you can visualize the benefits. Again, this entire process can be automated and scheduled as we will see later to make it hands-free.

Once you accept the balance plan, vRealize Operations workload balance begins moving the VMs to their new cluster and allows DRS/SDRS to determine the proper host/datastore within the cluster in which to place the VMs. This mean no &#rsquo;ping-pong&#rdquo; affect. We also get the added benefit of leveraging the DRS processes that ensure VMs are running on the right hosts (e.g. HW Compatibility checks, HA & Admission control policies, Reservations, Shares and Limits).

How do you control balance?

vRealize Operations workload balance complete control over how evenly you want to spread your workloads across clusters. It provides two simple to use &#rsquo;knobs&#rdquo; that regulate how the balance process.

The first is the Balance Workloads slider which simply states how aggressively I want to pursue balance for a given datacenter. A setting of CONSERVATIVE means not worry about balance until one of the clusters starts to get too busy to handle the load. This might be something you would use in a very dynamic environment. On the other hand, the AGGRESSIVE setting tries to keep things as closely balanced as possible. Obviously, this later means more VMs will move, but will also mean the clusters will be better equipped to deal with any recourse spikes (remember this is an insurance policy again contention).

 

The Cluster Headroom setting allows you to control &#rsquo;how full is full&#rdquo; for the clusters and datastores. This allows you to set a percentage of free space you want kept available and ensures clusters have a resource buffer for CPU, memory and disk space for which you are comfortable. When a cluster breaches that Cluster Headroom barrier it is a good indicator that a rebalance may be needed.

When does workload balance take action?

There are three ways to engage the workload balance process and begin moving VMs manual, automated and scheduled.

The manual method can be run directly from one of the rebalance alerts which indicate a workload balance is needed based on your control settings for Balance Workloads and Cluster Headroom above. It can also be run from the Workload Balance dashboard which gives you a quick view of the current workload of each cluster so you can determine if a rebalance is desired.

Either way it&#rsquo;s simply click the REBALANCE button, review the balance plan and hit START to run it. Easy!

But running this process manually is old-school and in today&#rsquo;s datacenters we need to automate as much as possible. Workload balance in vRealize Operations can be automated on a datacenter basis by simply switching the Automate flag to &#rsquo;yes&#rdquo; in the policy. This means you can automate it in your test datacenter and not in production or visa-versa. This means the next time a rebalance alert is generated instead of you having to deal with it it&#rsquo;s sent to the automation framework of vRealize Operations and automatically remediated.

The third option is the best one yet in my opinion. Instead of manually inspecting your datacenter balance or waiting for an alert to fire and automatically fixing it (which could happen in the middle of a work day) why not create an ongoing rebalance schedule? vRealize Operations allows you to ensure balance across your clusters using a schedules process that can be run during your standard maintenance windows, which is when these types of actions should be taken. In a very dynamic datacenter you may want to do this once a week or once a month in a more static environment. You should of course still use the automated method as a backup in case its needed, but with the scheduled rebalance hopefully it never will be.

Everything in one place

Finally, vRealize Operations 6.6 provides you one place to go and do everything associated with balance. The new Workload Balance dashboard gives you the ability to view current cluster balance in each datacenter, access to the workload balance settings, the ability to set up a rebalance schedule, and the ability to run a rebalance action at any time. It&#rsquo;s your one-stop-shop for automated workload balance!

 

Try vRealize Operations 6.6 today and experience how automated workload balance can change your environment to a contention free lights-out datacenter! Stop babysitting your applications and free yourself up to start thinking about bigger more strategic activities in the workplace…or maybe take a well deserved vacation.

If you want to see it all working you can watch this Automated Workload Balance video.

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vROps – A Methodology for Authoring Dashboards

vRealize Operations Manager, as we know it today, comes packed with avast array of built-in content. We have dashboards, views, reports, alerts, and a myriad of other content to help us paintthe right picture for different types of users. Of this content, the most flexible, but daunting, can be dashboards. While it is admittingly easy to drag and drop some pictures of widgets on to a dashboards, a common pitfall is not fully understanding the capabilities of widgets and how to arrange them in to the most efficient workflows. In this article, we&#rsquo;re going to discuss some methodologies on defining workflows, choosing widgetsand building interactions to create the most effective dashboards.

Define the Dashboard&#rsquo;s Objective

The beginning of any good dashboard begins with the definition of a business objective. The pursuit of this objective will give the dashboard purpose, and if it works well, value. Any dashboard may present new information or simply reorganize old information to offer new meaning, but the basic idea in authoring a dashboard is to work towards satisfying a definedbusiness objective and generate more value for the audience than previously existed. Regardless of what the objective may be, the key is to be clear, concise, and realistic in what you expect from the dashboard.

As an example, we could state a business objective of needinga better understanding of workloads that are contributing to the disk I/O load on Datastore objects.

Plan a Workflow

Once a dashboard&#rsquo;s objective has been defined and the desiredvalue is understood, we&#rsquo;ll begin to construct the dashboard&#rsquo;s workflow. The most straightforward way to construct a workflow is to understand the desiredend value, put a box around it, and work in reverse to see how it can be consistently created. Every workflow should be easily repeatable for different users and not assume users have pre-existing information on how to arrive at the desired end value. Working in reverse from the desiredend value, identify all of the steps that may be necessary in finding this end value. Once these reverse steps lead to a logical point where you could feasibly begin the workflow from scratch, you’ve identified your starting point for the workflow. Between the start and end of the workflow, all objects, metrics, relationships and product capabilities must be taken in to consideration. Discovering this initial workflow may have been accomplished using the different product UI elements, along with user intuition and memory, but the dashboard workflow will need to be accomplished using solely the dashboard’s capabilities. Ensure the workflow leverages these dashboard capabilities and minimizes the need for users to manually take steps outside the dashboard.

Continuing our previously stated example, we could say that we know for certain that we want to end the workflow with an understanding of each Datastore object and each of the elements that contribute to it&#rsquo;s disk I/O. We know that Virtual Machines are likely the primary contributors of this disk I/O workload, but we cannot be certain until we take a deeper look at the data.

Note:All workflows will rely on some understanding of the data and components being analyzed, with this example requiring VMware vSphere knowledge. When creating content that is intended to help others in analyzing and understanding data, it is crucial that the content author have a sufficient understanding of the subject matter at hand, without which the dashboard may ultimately emphasize the wrong elements in the wrong way and fail to meet the defined business objective.

Get to Know Your Data

At any given point, a dashboard will be limited by the type and quality of the data it has to work with within vRealize Operations Manager. Most workflows will require a particular set of objects and metrics, connected together with relationships to represent a cohesive chain of data that results in a repeatable workflow.

Before creating content for a dashboard, a thorough discovery of the environment’s data should be completed. This includes navigating vRealize Operations Manager to discover objects and metrics that relate to the business objective or use case, and how those elements are associated to one another using relationships. Some UI areas that may be helpfulfor this step are the “All Metrics” and “Environment Map” tabs. These tabsallow visual exploration of the environment in a manner than may identify objects, metrics and relationships to leverage in a dashboard.

In the absence of objects, metrics or relationships that may be necessaryto meet the requirements of a workflow, several workaroundsmay be available. These may include the following:

  • Add data sources or integrations to allowmore data for analysis.
    • When objects, metrics or relationships are absent, it may be necessary to further enrich the data within vRealize Operations Manager. This may be accomplished by adding additional Management Pack(s) or custom integration(s).
  • CreateSupermetrics that calculatederived values that may be missing from existing data.
    • When metricvalues are absent, such as aggregate computations, a Supermetric may be used to create data points necessary for dashboard analysis.
  • Leverage dashboard analysis widgets that provide analysis capabilities on-demand.
    • Some dashboard widgets offer visual analysis capabilities that are not otherwise available in the product. One example of this is the Forensics widget, which offers a density and distribution histogram with the 75th, 90th and 95th percentiles of a dataset.

In our example, we want to discover the elements related to our Datastores and what may be contributed to their disk I/O workload. We would begin by selecting a Datastore in the left navigation pane, then opening the “All Metrics” tab in the right pane. Expand the top of the metrics graph area to include the Environment Map. From this point, different objects in the hierarchy can be selected, metrics graphed, and relationships identified.

Pick Your Widgets

Once the dashboard’s workflow is defined and data elements are understood, the process ofselecting graphical elementsmay begin. Graphical elements in a dashboard are called widgets, with each widget offering a unique set of capabilities. These widgets areused to present information to the users, allow user interaction and analysis, and ultimately form the building blocks of the dashboard.

Each widget has a unique set of capabilities and strengths, but a universalconcept is that widgets can be providers, receivers, or both. Providers often have the ability to ‘self-provide’ data, meaning they have a configuration option to independently populate data without the need of user interaction or initialpopulation. These provider widgets will be the beginning every dashboard’s workflow. Receiving widgets will often by blank or unpopulateduntil data is passed to them via a widget interaction. These receiving widgets will typically be used for displaying data such as graphs and providing a point where deeper analysis can happen. Receiving widgets may also be providing widgets,offeringtheability to continue workflows that had been passed to then via widget interactions.

The capabilities and nuances of each widget are outside the scope of this article, but the following widget capability matrix may be beneficial in understanding the high-level provider/receiver capabilities of each widget. This information will aid in the selection of widgets for adashboard’s workflow.

vRealize Operations Manager 6.5 - Widget Capability Matrix

When selecting widgets and deciding how they may be populated, it is important to mind the aesthetics of the workflow and overall dashboard. A common mistake when creating a dashboard is to include as much detail as technically possible, using widgets to display buckets of data points and crafting Supermetrics to display every perceivable side of the data. Not only is thisunnecessary, but it clutters the dashboard and becomes confusing for the audience. So for example, an author may opt to display ‘total’, ‘free’, ‘used’, ‘%-used’ and ‘%-free metrics’, whereas solely ‘%-used’ would be sufficient toidentify an actionable situation.

As a rule of thumb, Irecommend keeping the quantity of widgets on each dashboard below 6, occasionally using up to 10 for elaborate workflows with interactions. If data isn’t actionable or meaningful, it shouldn’t be displayed or emphasized. In short- less is more.

In our example, we’ll need the abilityto navigate the associations between Datastores and Virtual Machines to accomplish the workflow needed to meet our objective. Given this requirement, we may opt to use the Object List widget, which has the ability to show “children of” and “parents of” objects that are passed to it through a widget interaction. This ability will allow us to pass a selected Datastore to an Object List and display all Virtual Machines that have a single north-bound relationship with that Datastore. In other words, this widget will let us select a Datastore and see exactly what Virtual Machines may be generating disk I/O load on it.

PlanInteractions

If we view widgets as the building blocks of as dashboard, the mortar that holds them together would be widget interactions. These interactions enable data to be passed between widgets and ultimatelyresult in a more robust user experience than an otherwise static dashboard. While interactions aren’t appropriate for every objective or use case, they allow a deeper degree of widget analysis than would otherwise be possible with a static/hands-off dashboard.

When determining where and how interactions will be used, it is important to plan how the user will approach the dashboard and how their attention in directed to the beginning of a workflow.Placement of widgets influences the directionof user attention, with the top and top-left of a dashboard being a natural place to begin looking for a workflow. Depending on the dashboard’s audience, it may bebeneficial to label widget titles as start points in the workflow, indicating “Select an object to begin”. Alternatively, a Text widget may be used to populate more detailed instructions on howto interact with and interpret a dashboard.

Interactions allow the selection of data within one widget and the automatic population of that data within one or more other widgets. These receiving widgets may show the object passed to it using that widget’s analysis capabilities, or it may show related objects (parent or child) that can be then selected and passed to yet another widget. This sequenceof interaction is key to defining a successful workflow. There are no limits to how many interactions can be used, but at a certain point a dashboard will run out of browser real estate for widget analysis - mindthe best practice of having at most six (6) widgets, with special workflows requiring up to ten (10). There is also an option to leverage dashboard interactions, which can pass data from a widget to a widget in a different dashboard where the workflow may continue. Select widgets also permit ‘multi-select interactions’, which allow the passing of multiple objects between widgets in the same interaction.

A major benefit to leveraging interactions is the reduction of redundant widgets and static information on dashboards. Where a static dashboard may need to be configured to display dozens of metrics to meet a use case requirement, an interactive dashboard may display a list of objects, allow an object selection, and subsequently display several key indicators for that object. The result is a dynamic and less clustered user experience, with users being empoweredto view specific information instead of being overwhelmedwith too much information.

While planning widget interactions for our example, we could opt to begin the workflow with an Object List that displays Datastore objects. When a Datastore is selected, a widget interaction passes objects to another Object List that is set to show “parents of” the object(s) passed to it. To continue ourworkflow towards our objectiveof understanding disk I/O on a Datastore, we may add columns to the receiving Object List to show Virtual Disk Aggregate Commands Per Second. The result is a two (2) widget workflow in a dashboard that uses a widget interaction to dynamically show all Virtual Machines on each selected Datastore, including an itemization of Virtual Machines along with their last disk I/O load. Dashboard complete!

Test Drive

Once a dashboard has taken form, the next step is taking it for a test drive to see if it actually meets the objectives you set out to address in the first place. It should be expected that iterative revisions will occur, largely because adashboard’s perceived value issubjective and, as such, expectations and requirements may change over time.

Refinement and Maintenance

As dashboards are created and destroyed, a common theme that will prove true time and time again will be that dashboards built on dynamic structures and populations will have far more longevitythan those built and maintained to statically populate data. Given this reality, Custom Groups with dynamic membership and other dynamic filtering mechanisms are the preferred means to populate providing widgets in dashboards.

Organization of content is also key to a healthy lifecycle of dashboards. Naming conventions of dashboards should be standardized within teams, as should the use of dashboard Tab Groups to organize content in to subject matter areas.

Distribution of content by means of Dashboard Sharing should be given some thought. vRealize Operations Manager allowsdashboards to only have a single owning user at any given time, making content distribution controlsof increased importance. Adashboard owner is the only user capable of editing that shared dashboard. The simplest way to address content management of this type is by nominating a service account to be the owner andrepository of shared dashboards. In doing so, this creates a single placewhere dashboard can be edited and maintained for an organization.

Conclusion

With this basic methodology in authoring dashboards,any user can successfully create a dashboard that has value. This methodology was developed through my years of delivering vRealize Operations Manager in the field, and I hope that by reading this article you’ve gained a better understanding of dashboards andhow to ensure they’ll be a success within your organizations.

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Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes – vROps White Paper

VMware just published my vROps White Paper titled “Aligning vRealize Operations with Business Outcomes” on the VMware Tech Papers site. In particular, this white paper explores a common theme among many VMware customers. Specifically, customersare looking for IT reporting that closelyresembles their lines of business such as services, departments, applications, and other logical business models. Furthermore, for most customers, measuring performance, utilization, and consumption at the logical business unit is more important to business leaders than at the vSphere Cluster.This is because in today&#rsquo;s world, services and applications can span multiple infrastructures from private, through hybrid, to public.Generally, IT reporting around business services has been difficult with traditionaltools as they are very infrastructure-centric. In addition, lack of metadata or context and abstraction technologies compound the problem, making simple correlation difficult.

This vROps White Paper is your guide

This vROps White Paper is designed toserve as a comprehensive guide that ties various distinct vROps features into a cohesive solution. Therefore, the goal of this white paper is to enable IT to become more transparent and alignedwith business structure. As a result, the white paper walks through extending vROpsto provide business-oriented reporting that empowers business stakeholdersto make better decisions by gaining visibility and insight into various business services in the datacenter or cloud. Consequently, this white paper covers the following topis in depth and connects the dots among them:

Custom Group

Define Custom Groups that align the IT infrastructure with the business structure of your organization.

Super Metrics

Turn business questions into Super Metrics that quantify the way you do business by metering service utilization, performance, and consumption.

Custom Dashboards

Present the new-found information in business consumable dashboards that aid in the decision-making processes.

Security

Provide secure access and authorize users to only view information relevant to their organizational role.

Automation

Explore various options to automate various aspects of this process or the complete solution.

In conclusion, vRealize Operations Manager does a great job at providing infrastructure analytics; however, it does not automatically provide performance, utilization, and consumption around business units, applications, and services. Leveraging this white paper, IT can use the same set of analytics they are already familiar with to answer real-world business questions and better align IT with business-oriented outcomes.

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