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Get to know VMware's vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

With vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, you can easily set up test and development environments and push any changes to your production environment.

VMware's vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager might not be as well-known as other management tools, but it can help you deploy and manage vRealize products and different content types, such as vRealize Automation (vRA) blueprints.

VLCM is available as an appliance that you can download for free. It manages all products that come with vRealize Suite. It also integrates with VMware Identity Manager and supports vRealize Network Insight, although this requires a separate license.

VMware vLCM use cases

VMware vLCM offers a single pane of glass for the entire suite that shows which products are installed, their version numbers and their patch status. It also offers multiple-environment maintenance. You can deploy your products in a test environment, a staging environment and a production environment in one or more data centers. When you think about the number of appliances you manage, it adds up quickly.

But even in a smaller environment -- say, you only run vRA -- there are strong use cases for vLCM. For example, if you create blueprints in a test environment and deploy them in a production environment but you also want to implement version control, it's a cumbersome task. VMware's vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager enables you to do that.

Get started with vLCM

You can download vLCM from the VMware product page. First, deploy the Open Virtual Application file from vSphere Client, and configure it with the usual suspects for networking and passwords. Once that's up and running, log in to the appliance to connect it to vCenter, download VMware product binaries and configure vLCM itself.

Appliance deployment and configuration are only one part of the process. Once you've done this, deploy the desired vRealize products. To keep that job as simple as possible, VMware implements wizards to drive deployments.

When you have everything up and running, vLCM also enables you to perform upgrades and install patches to all products in your environment. With full control of your test environment, you can easily implement the same changes in all your production environments after testing.

VMware vLCM uses a single interface containing all deployable products, no matter the type of environment. This means you can deploy a mix of products for a development environment and then deploy the same products for your testing, staging and production environments. This still takes time, but you can use the APIs for vLCM, export an environment's configuration to a JSON file and then import that file for a new environment. Once you've built the production environment, you can easily deploy it with the same components and configurations as your test environment.

In version 2, VMware added the ability to import an existing environment into vLCM. Most deployments aren't greenfield, so you might already have vRealize products in your environment. Now, you can bring these environments under the management of vLCM.

When you have everything up and running, vLCM enables you to perform upgrades and install patches to all products in your environment. With full control of your test environment, you can easily implement the same changes in all your production environments after testing.

Content management

Managing infrastructure components doesn't require daily attention, but managing content does. You must update things such as blueprints and workflows much more frequently.

With vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, you can manage the following content types:

  • vCenter for customization specifications and templates;
  • vRA for blueprints, XaaS and property definitions;
  • vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) for actions, workflows, packages and configuration elements; and
  • vRealize Operations (vROps) Manager for alerts, dashboards and reports.

You can collect such content from content endpoints, where you configure the links to your infrastructure servers and get lists of available components. You can then deploy that content to other environments.

vLCM endpoint types
Manage content from content endpoints, and deploy to different servers.

The following vRA blueprint was imported from the vRA server. You can now deploy it in the same or another environment. You can easily identify a version number -- this blueprint is version 1 --which enables you to keep multiple versions and deploy an older version as a form of rollback.

vLCM version control
Track and deploy different vRA blueprint versions.

You can maintain content for other components, too, and maintain management and version control over products for which you otherwise couldn't. For example, vRO contains version management but not for the purpose of maintaining multiple copies of a workflow. For exchanging workflows between vRO servers, you must use a multinode plugin, which enables you to manually or programmatically export and import workflows and packages. VMware vLCM performs all of this from a single platform and provides insight into what happens and when.

VMware's vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager also simplifies plugin installation and management for your third-party products. You can install downloaded components to your environments, and vLCM enables you to run such components in development and testing environments first before putting them into production. It also provides a central control panel to see where you've installed these products and which versions you're using.

The vLCM marketplace
Simplify installation and management of vRealize and third-party applications with the vLCM marketplace.

Manage configuration drift

VMware's vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager enables you to keep track of any changes to your components. By saving a baseline, you have a tool report that shows any modified settings in any of your products.

Configuration drift
Keep track of any changes with configuration drift.

The above parameter was modified in a vROps deployment. You can see the baseline value and the current value. After you manually save your baseline, configuration drift checks your products against that baseline every 24 hours. The only time you might need to modify your baseline is when you've made changes to your product.

You can also see the remediate button, which enables you to reset a modified parameter to its original value. However, there are a handful of system parameters you can't remediate, such as system generated IDs and properties that APIs don't allow you to modify. You must go to the product's configuration page to revert the change.

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