VMware Aria aims to become the new All-In-One platform in this multicloud era. Let’s take a look on what it can offer.
What is Aria?
VMware Aria is a SaaS offering that brings your infrastructure, applications and services under a common umbrella. No matter if you are running on-prem or across different clouds, Aria will aggregate all the information under a single dashboard.
Aria has two main building blocks. On one side, the HUB, front-end providing API access to the platform. On the Back-End, it’s powered by GraphQL, a query language for reading and mutating data in APIs. How does this work? From a thirty-thousand feet view, VMware pulls in all the metadata from almost any source, get it into GraphQL and then use a set of collections linked to the underlying services to provide valuable information. These underlying services are well known VMware solutions, like vRealize Operations, Cloud Health and other observability tools.
With this you just need a single API query to grab the information rather than doing 20 different API calls to reach the same outcome.
What makes it interesting?
There are questions that comes to mind when running services in multiple environments…Do we have the right metrics to handle capacity planning? Do we know what is the peak hours of day/week/months/year for these resources? What about specific events happening along the year like Black Friday or Christmas? Is there any seasonality pattern?
In addition, as you roll-out new services and infrastructure you might end up with higher costs due to ingress/egress traffic, bandwidth requirements, changing instance shapes, auto-scaling features or simply handling additional CRUD operations. Multiply this for each cloud environment and you will end up with a huge mess. And we haven’t yet talked about developer environments, where if you don’t have clear policies your dev teams will spin up environments like there’s no tomorrow (I remember a discovery assessment for a datacenter migration where we found +1500 dev environments. The reality was that with 200 env they could do the work. This had a direct impact in the YoY expenses). At the end of the day, you need to have control of every single piece of your infrastructure and apps that can help you drive your business decisions.
Let’s see how Aria can help us with above issues.
- Role-based dashboards. You can have customized dashboards based on different roles and teams. We can have specific dashboards for our Applications Team or Infrastructure engineers to focus on the metrics they really care about.
- TCO. Get an overview of the total spending and find how much you are running across different environments. This can help optimize your cost by changing instance shapes or planning migrations to more suitable environments.
- Centralized Security Compliance. You need to ensure that your security policies are standardize across all the environments. Aria provides an overview of the compliance status. It runs benchmarks against your Service Level Objectives (SLO) and highlights which environments needs to be fixed.
- Business Insights. Link the infrastructure and application resources to business KPI. What if you could tell your CIO that you are losing 300k euros a year because of underused resources? What if spike traffics due to marketing campaigns like Black Friday or Christmas are having a direct impact in your billing quotes?
You can check the resources and dependencies of your applications in a granular way. In a single plane of glass you can grab KPI metrics and insights from the current deployment and check the security and compliance status of the service.
You can programmatically create templates with predefined structure based on your needs. It will allow your Ops teams to get started quickly and customize as needed.
One of the most interesting parts. The migration section provides a complete workflow to plan and schedule migrations.
When you start planning migrations you need a clear overview of the resources and dependencies. The discovery assessment is key. How many times have you migrated an application and found that something else broke? Aria provides an overview of the different inter-dependencies ensuring you don’t miss anything.
Once the picture is clear, you can proceed with the migration planning. Here you can split your services by waves and priorities. You will need to validate with the business/service owners before execution (95% of the time planning will change due to in-flight projects, LOB restrictions, unplanned activities, etc) but once done, you will have a tracking tool to understand the status of the migration.
As you see, Aria provides a set of tools wrapped into a single observability and management platform allowing users to understand their infrastructure, TCO and business insights. It also provides a migration service that will enable moving workloads between multicloud environments based in the business needs.
Today Aria falls short on providing a full marketplace. However, that’s something VMware is currently working at. The goal is to provide an Open Collector SDK that will allow partners and startups to integrate their solutions into the platform. This is going to be key if VMware wants customers adopting their solution.
A command-line would be a nice thing to have as well as the integration with other IaC frameworks, such as Terraform or Crossplane. This is something we might see in the roadmap in the incoming months. Bear in mind that Guardrails is based on the Idem Project, an open source, Apache licensed project from VMware. It’s kind of infrastructure as data, allowing you to get a snapshot of every resource and it’s current state.
It would be interesting on how the migration service evolves. It currently supports on-prem to VMware Cloud (VMC). We might see the service expanding to cloud-native services, which will make Aria the ideal broker for multicloud environments.
In addition, one of the things that would make Aria a powerful one-stop shop for your IT business is the integration with solutions like Fiberplane, which provides collaborative notebooks for SRE. A good way to troubleshoot any potential incident, decrease time resolution and provide a root cause analysis (RCA) and mitigation plan.
Last but not least…today Aria is a SaaS offering, however there are clients demanding data residency due to sovereignty requirements. Would be interesting to see if VMware can offer the same SaaS offering behind customer’s firewall.
If you want to try it, VMware has enabled a FREE Tier. You can find more information at: https://blogs.vmware.com/management/2022/11/announcing-vmware-aria-hub-free-tier.html
Note: All images are VMware Courtesy.