vRealize Automation 7.3: Install, Configure, Manage (BETA) Review

Here’s the scenario:

I’ve recently been introduced to vRealize Automation at work. We’re entering the tail end of the roll-out and I’ve only just begun to understand exactly how to interact with it. I understand why an organization might want to use the product, but I’ve just never been at a place in my career to get a good hold on it.

Fast-forward only a moment or two in time. My Principle Virtualization Engineer, the guy leading the vRA deployment project, is moving to a different role in the organization. vRA is left to me to support, but I have no idea what I’m doing. Time to see what VMware has for training! Registration for vRealize Automation 7.3 Install, Configure, Manage (BETA) complete.

Note: The Beta for this course is no longer available as it is now Generally Available. Check out available Beta courses here.

Present day:

Last week, I had an opportunity to take the vRA 7.3: ICM Beta class. Initially, I had some reservations about taking a Beta training course. I wasn’t exactly sure what I should expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the delivery and material. Where some may have been disappointed, I found it to be more helpful overall.

I don’t want to go into detail about the course materials. If you’re familiar with vRA, you can read about new features. If you’re not… attend a Beta! Let’s discuss things that I felt were beneficial about taking the Beta version of the course.

Price –

I’m not sure whether Beta courses vary in price, but this ICM only cost me 50% of what it normally would have. The $2k price tag is still more than I would want to shell out if I were covering it by myself, but the price point is no longer insurmountable. Better yet, the price made it an easier argument for the boss. I list this first because, when comparing all other benefits, this really is a substantial one. Not being able to attend… Well, it really makes getting any benefit out of the training difficult.

Instructors –

On the first day of training my instructor, Brian Watrous, gave a good explanation of how the Beta class would be given. Brian is the Lead Instructor for the course and it was very clear that he’s extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the product. (His blog is solid, too.) Daniel Crider, who developed the course, created the lab scenarios, and built the lab environment joined Brian for the delivery of the Beta.

Essentially, we were going to be seeing a yet-to-be-final version of the course. Daniel was on-hand to take suggestions and feedback from Brian and other attendees on the lecture and lab materials while also offering his fair share of knowledge about the product. I don’t feel that I can adequately capture how unique the instructors made this training feel. I’m sure that this was a result of the Beta and am even more pleased that I attended as a result. The two instructors were excellent.

Attendees –

One of the more interesting aspects of the class was that there were a bunch of VMware Certified Instructors attending with me. As a result, there were some interesting dynamics in the classroom that I don’t think I would have otherwise experienced. I was learning about vRA for the first time among others who were probably learning the “What’s New” pieces of 7.3 (likely having conducted training sessions of their own on previous versions of the product).

Having never seen most of the product before, I asked my fair share of questions. I received answers from the instructors and/or other attendees. In retrospect, I think I may have been the guy that everyone got annoyed with… I’ll choose not to dwell on that.

Labs –

I mentioned before that Daniel had created the lab scenarios and the lab environment. The Beta class saw a new, never-before seen lab on using Storage Policy Based Management in vRA. We almost saw a lab on Containers! Turns out that several layers of abstraction may make certain things difficult (note: containers are one of those certain things).

To me, labs can be difficult to take. They’re very detail oriented and written so that anyone can complete them. It’s very easy to find yourself clicking through the steps and not really understanding what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. As a result, it’s just as easy to leave the course not really having learned anything as a result.

The labs weren’t perfect. Not everything worked as it was intended to. Some things broke and needed some troubleshooting to fix. I don’t say these things as a negative. This was a core piece of my learning experience – troubleshooting a vRA deployment that should be working. The beauty of this was the guidance from two very knowledgeable instructors. I even managed to fix some things on my own which made me feel pretty good at the end of the day!

As an interesting tidbit – Our final lab was learning how to install vRealize Automation. As Brian quipped, “You could argue that this course should be titled, ‘Configure, Manage, Install’ but it doesn’t sound as good.”

Summary (TL;DR) –

The Beta course was excellent! My instructors were extremely well-versed in both using and teaching how to use the software. While the labs were troublesome at times, I spent a good amount of time in and troubleshooting the software. I learned a lot.

At the end of the day, I really feel that the training gave me the knowledge and tools that I need to support my organization’s deployment. Only time will tell. I feel good about the challenge and hope I can mature the deployment well.

Welcome to #Blogtober

Happy #Blogtober, everyone! In this #Blogtober post, I want to give a brief description of exactly what #Blogtober is and drop in some details on how I intend to use it. I hope to include an overview of ideas (so I don’t forget and so that you can hold me accountable) that I’ll post over the month. Big should out to Matt Heldstab who encouraged me to participate. For more info directly from the source head over to blogtober.net.


What is #blogtober?

#Blogtober is a commitment for rookie and accomplished bloggers alike. The goal of #blogtober is pretty simple – create five blog posts in the month of October. In announcing the program, Matt lists the following three reasons –

  • #Blogtober gives new bloggers visibility in the community and issues a challenge to be held accountable to
  • We’re in conference season – There are many different conferences in the industry (VMworld, MS Ignite, etc.) that can provide blog topics
  • vExpert 2017 – Blogging can help earn vExpert status by sharing your knowledge with the community


To me, #blogtober is a more consumable version of #vdm30in30 which takes place in November. #vdm30in30’s goals are very much the same, but the requirements are loftier – 30 posts in the 30 days in November.  I want to participate, but I just don’t have that much content… yet!


How do I plan to use #blogtober?

That’s where #blogtober comes in. To me, this program will give me an easier, more consumable challenge. Five posts over the course of a month allows me to get into the mindset of blogging while also allowing me time to research how to start thinking like a blogger. I want to post technical content. I get so much useful information from others in our community. I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of what I post will end up being about soft-skills or other observations. We’ll see what happens…


What topics are you going to cover, James?

I had a list of ideas that I wrote down specifically so as to not forget them. I’m pretty sure I threw it away. Great job, self!

What I remember:

  • Home Lab Setup – A description of my initial home lab setup followed by config changes and difficulties making said changes. Likely to be two separate posts.
  • DevOps – A discussion on  company culture and Deming’s 14 Points of Management. I may drop DevOps out of this. I’m not an authority on it and it feels buzzword-y. Open to suggestions.
  • VMUG – A discussion about how VMUG has influenced my career.
  • Project Work – A retrospective of a to-be-completed project (pending approval).
  • Maybe more if I can keep going?

Also, I’m open to ideas! If you think something is worth  expanding on, please let me know.


Want to get involved?

It’s October 3rd and there’s still plenty of month left! At the time of this writing, there’s approximately 65 people who are participating in the program! If you want to challenge yourself and/or get more involved in the community, this is a great starting place.

Step 1 – Head over to www.blogtober.net and comment on the blog post.
Step 2 – Write some neat stuff and post it on your blog (acquire a blog, if necessary… then blog about it!)
Step 3 – Throw the post out to the Twitterverse with the #blogtober hashtag

It’s really that simple.

Here’s to hoping that I can stick with five more posts for the month of #Blogtober (remember, this post doesn’t count!).