This is part two of a two-part series on Skyline support capabilities. Part one – Top 3 Reasons You Will Love Skyline Advisor – explores proactive issue avoidance, upgrade planning and log assist.
Today I’m excited to share with you that the latest addition to the Skyline Support umbrella – Skyline Health Diagnostics (SHD) – is now available as a pre-built Photon-based virtual appliance making it super simple to install in your environment. How easy you ask? How about as easy as one, two, three!
1) Download the OVA from My VMware
2) Import into vCenter and fill out the wizard, providing two passwords and IP address information
3) Power on and wait about five minutes
That’s it – you’re all set!
Why am I so excited about Skyline Health Diagnostics (and how is it different from Skyline Advisor)?
The most significant difference between Skyline Advisor and Skyline Health Diagnostics is that Skyline Health Diagnostics works without public internet access, which means it’s ideal for sites without external network access, often called dark sites. TAM customers have fallen in love with Skyline Advisor but until now those rich capabilities required the Skyline Collector with internet access to support communication with our VMware Cloud Services Platform. Here’s an architecture diagram of Skyline Health Diagnostics so you can understand how SHD runs as a Photon-based virtual appliance in your environment. If internet access is available, application updates and new signature downloads can occur automatically.
Many of our customers love Skyline Advisor’s capabilities but are unable to use them because their security policies do not allow external network access for vendor tooling. This is where Skyline Health Diagnostics shines. Let’s explore three key capabilities that SHD provides.
1. VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG) Checks
As software and hardware interactions have become increasingly complex, it is even more essential to ensure that you are not only running supported hardware but also supported firmware and driver versions. VMware provides a detailed (some may call it overwhelming) VMware Compatibility Guide (VCG) for vSphere and vSAN online. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of having to search manually for each of your systems in the guide, there was a tool that would automatically check your systems for you? That tool is Skyline Health Diagnostics! Each release comes with the latest VCG information preloaded (and can also be updated via an offline bundle) so you never have to guess if you are running supported firmware and driver versions. The below screenshot shows how SHD validates each ESXi host against the VCG and provides clear guidance on if the hardware is listed on the VCG, if the current firmware/driver version is supported, as well as if the hardware is supported on future versions of the ESXi hypervisor. In this example, we can see all of the host hardware is supported, but the ethernet controllers are running a driver version that is below the VCG minimum. You are also clearly shown which version of the driver you need to upgrade to in order to maintain compatibility. Finally, we can see that the host and hardware have forward support that includes 7.0U1 and 7.0U2.
2. VMware Security Advisory Checks
Security threats and attacks are more prolific and are becoming increasingly advanced. Now more than ever it’s important to keep your environment patched and up to date. And yes – I’m even talking to you folks with dark sites. Various attacks, including Advanced Persistent Threats having been targeting dark sites for years (hello Stuxnet!). Skyline Advisor provides detailed information about which VMware Security Advisories (if any) apply to your environment and offers actionable steps to remediate those issues. Skyline Health Diagnostics provides those same capabilities in an offline package for dark sites. The Summary of VMware Security Advisory Scanning section provides an overview of the VMware Security Advisories (VMSAs) that apply to your environment. In the screenshot below you can see this environment has twenty-one critical findings, made up of six unique advisories spanning five impacted objects. You can then deep dive into each specific VMSA, where you are provided details about the portions of your environment that are impacted, the version that resolves the VMSA and a link to the specific VMSA for further details including any workarounds.
3. Reactive Log Analysis
Despite our best efforts as IT professionals, things do go wrong. Being able to understand why something happened and then remediate or put controls in place to prevent the same issue from occurring again is paramount. Skyline Health Diagnostics puts the power of some of VMware’s own internal log analysis tools in the palm of your hand. Wouldn’t it be great to have a tool (especially for dark sites where taking data out of the environment can be challenging) that can analyze your VMware logs within your own environment? That’s Skyline Health Diagnostics! It can either talk directly to vCenter/ESXi to create new log bundles for analysis, or you can provide log bundles you had previously collected for analysis. After the analysis is completed, you are provided with the excerpts from your logs, along with relevant KBs, that you can use to prove the root cause for your issues. The database of problems that Skyline Health Diagnostics can programmatically identify grows with every release, so make sure to take the time to update your appliance with the latest definitions (through either the online or offline process). Below you can see an example where vCenter was unavailable with a 503 error, and Skyline Health Diagnostics provided the matching log entries and a recommended KB article for further investigation.
Skyline Health Diagnostics is a game-changer
For many of our customers, especially those with dark site requirements, Skyline Health Diagnostics provides the benefits of Skyline Advisor in an easy-to-use, easy-to-update virtual appliance. If you struggle with:
- Ensuring your hardware configurations stay compliant with VMware’s Compatibility Guides
- Understanding what VMware Securities Advisories affect your environment and their impacts
- Automated Log Analysis to show root cause for issues
Skyline Health Diagnostics is the tool for you.
Don’t wait – Install Skyline Health Diagnostics today
If any of this sounds useful, please contact your TAM (or an engaged Technical Support Engineer) to help you get Skyline Health Diagnostics installed and running in your environment. If these capabilities don’t sound useful, contact your TAM so they can convince you otherwise (and if you don’t have a TAM you really should reconsider – read the IDC Total Economic Impact Report). In the meantime, check out the documentation and download the appliance here.