Today VMware announced the long awaited new version of their cloud management product vRealize Automation 7 (vRA7). This new release, previously known under codename Bellatrix, is a major overhaul and includes many new features and enhancements.

Converged blueprints

A long awaited new feature is the integration of both infrastructure and application blueprints. vRealize Automation 7 now has exactly this, it is called Converged Blueprints. This enables simplified blueprint authoring for both infrastructure and applications.

The converged blueprints are displayed in a new top level tab named ‘Design’. The underlying tabs are used to manage all the unified blueprints. A new modern design canvas is offered to author any blueprints ranging from infrastructure oriented all the way to application oriented. Like any other first-class vRealize Automation construct, REST APIs exist to manage all aspects of blueprints like authoring, publishing, deleting, etc.

This model is very familiar as this used to be the Application Services model. With vRealize Automation 7 there won’t be a separate Application Services (appliance) as is all merged into one converged user interface. The name is also changed, it is no longer called Application Services. From now on it is called Application Authoring when creating a vRealize Automation 7.0 Application blueprint.

With the merge of infrastructure and application blueprints vRealize Automation 7 now delivers:

  • A Unified Canvas.
    Single model to author machine , software, ASD and application blueprint.
    Consolidation of roles between vRealize Automation and AppServices.
  • Authoring Machine.
    Author machine with standard configuration and the ability to use Puppet/Chef based Configuration.
  • Authoring Software.
    Author script based software allowing you to author Puppet/Chef based content.
  • Authoring Multi-Tier and Composite Apps.
    Author multi-tier application blueprints with dependencies and cross node binding.
    Author composite blueprints with individual sub-application blueprints.
    Author blueprints using the ASD service blueprints.
  • Networking and Security.
    NSX integration for single machine and multi-tier applications.
    On-demand network and security groups and load balancing for single- and multi-tier blueprints (NSX for vSphere only).
  • Declarative Format.
    Declarative format for machine, software, ASD and application blueprints.
    Import/export a blueprint and save it in a source control repository.
  • Blueprints as Code.

So the new vRealize Automation 7 delivers a new unified graphical canvas for designing machines, software components and application stacks with an underlying single unified model for both machine and application blueprints. vRealize Automation 7 also gives you the ability to extend or define external integrations in the canvas through XaaS.

All the new blueprints are stored in the vRealize Automation vPostgres database. The Infrastructure services SQL database no longer stores any information about any blueprint in the entire vRealize Automation suite. So the SQL Server Tables like [VirtualMachineTemplate] and all related tables are going to be empty starting with vRealize Automation 7.

Blueprint as Code

Besides this all, the converged blueprint is now delivered in code, so it becomes a Blueprint as Code. This allows the easy import/export and modification of blueprints which enables enterprises to easily deliver a populated vRealize Automation environment with pre-created blueprints, create new tenants and pre-populate this with default blueprints, etc. The possibilities are endless.

vra-7.0-BP-as-Code

vRO IaaS plugin impact

The converged blueprints have impacted the vRealize Orchestrator IaaS plugin in a few different ways. The new version of vRealize Orchestrator CAFE plugin willl have an inventory object representing the new unified blueprints. The following table shows more detail of how different parts are impacted.

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Application centric network & security

One of the huge advantages of the converged blueprints is the ability to dynamically configure NSX network and micro-segmentation unique for each application. As part of the unified blueprint model, NSX network and security policies can be configured as independent components and then dragged into the blueprint canvas. This greatly simplifies the process of designing application workloads with the appropriate network connectivity, security, availability, scale, and performance.

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vRealize Automation makes deploying application-centric networking micro-segmentation security more efficient, because the services are configured in the context of delivering, reconfiguring, and decommissioning the application.

Out-of-box NSX Support for Blueprint Authoring & Deployment

With vRealize Automation 7 NSX network and security integration is now in the converged blueprint. Beyond multi-machine blueprints NSX integration can now be used with single machines, middleware and applications blueprints. This enables virtual networking with connectivity to to existing or on-demand Routed and NAT networks for all blueprints.

Further, micro-segmentation can be automated via on-demand and existing security group membership and tagging definition within the blueprint. Finally, on-demand load balancers can be defined for use by applications. The graphical canvas shows the relationships between network and security components with machines to ensure the proper configuration before publishing to your catalog for deployment.


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