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In November of 2018, VMware Skyline became available as a VMware Cloud Service. The primary reason we enabled Skyline as a Cloud Services was to provide customer’s with greater control of their Skyline proactive findings and recommendations.

This is part one of a multi-part blog series that will help you architect and create your Cloud Services Organizations for Skyline. I will provide various examples, including why you may only need one Cloud Services Organization, or multiple Organizations. Again, this is all for the purposes of using Skyline to identify potential risk within your environment, with recommendations for how to remediate that risk, ensuring the stability and reliability of your VMware solutions.

Multiple Cloud Services Organizations

When creating an Organization for Skyline, you’re defining the scope for which data is visible within Skyline Advisor. To use an example, Acme Corporation has two teams, the Server team and the Virtual Desktop team. They both want to use Skyline, however, they don’t want to see each other’s proactive findings. They only want to see the proactive findings that are relevant to the vSphere environments that they manage.

Organizations allow the Acme Corporation Server team and Virtual Desktop team to keep their proactive findings separate from each other. If working within a secure environment, this ensures each team is not able to view information about the opposite environment, such as vCenter Server names, ESXi host names or virtual machine names or IP addresses.

In the example above, the Acme Corporation Server team would create one Organization, and the Acme Corporation Virtual Desktop team would create a second Organization. While both teams share a common support agreement with VMware, both teams are able to utilize Skyline, at no additional cost, and keep their data separate from one another. We’ll go into more detail how multiple teams, or businesses, that share a support agreement with VMware, can create multiple Organizations for the purposes of data segregation.

To get started, let’s create our first Cloud Services Organization, which will be the foundation for future Skyline Collectors, or Organizations, that may be required in order to meet the requirements of your business.

Create a Cloud Services Organization

To create your first Cloud Services Organization for Skyline, visit the Skyline Get Started page. If you’re already using Skyline today, we recommend the person who registered your Skyline Collector be the person to create your Organization. This will help avoid potential issues with migrating existing Skyline Collectors.
The Skyline Get Started page is wizard based, walking you through creating a Cloud Services Organization, linking your Support Entitlement, deploying the Skyline Collector, migrating any existing Skyline Collectors (for current Skyline customers only) and accessing Skyline Advisor.

Skyline Organization Get Started Wizard

Enter your VMware ID – Enter your My VMware username and password.

Create New Organization – Enter a meaningful name for your Organization and associate an address with your Organization. When adding or selecting an address, the currency for the country associated with the address will be displayed. Additionally, some countries require a VAT ID. This is not a requirement of Skyline, but a by-product of VMware Cloud Services. Rest assure that Skyline is available to VMware Production Support and Premier Services customers at no additional cost. For VAT ID, you can choose “I’m not sure” since you are not being charged, nor providing payment information, to use Skyline.

Cloud Services Organization Address

Associate Support Entitlement – This associates your VMware support entitlement (Production, Premier) with your Organization. While Skyline is available at no additional cost, Skyline is tiered based upon level of support entitlement. Premier Services customers always receive all the features and functionality of Skyline. This includes both Basic and Advanced proactive findings and Operational Summary Reports (OSR). Production Support customers receive Basic proactive findings only, and will not receive Operational Summary Reports.

Download and Install Skyline Collector – Download the Skyline Collector OVA package from My VMware. Next, install the Skyline Collector using the Deploy OVF Template wizard within the vSphere Client. Utilize the Skyline Collector Installation and Configuration Guide for step-by-step instructions for installing the Skyline Collector.

Register Skyline Collector – You will use a token to associate your Skyline Collector with your Organization. Create a new token and enter it in the Collector Registration Token field within the Skyline Collector Initial Configuration Wizard (Step 3).

Skyline Collector Registration using a Token

Migrate Existing Collectors – If you are an existing Skyline customer, this step allows you to migrate existing Skyline Collectors to your Organization. Once migrated, you can manage all of your Skyline Collectors within VMware Cloud Services.

Access Skyline Advisor – This completes the creation of your Organization, as well as the deployment of your first Skyline Collector. You can deploy additional Skyline Collectors using the Skyline Collector service within VMware Cloud Services. More to come on that in Part 2 of this series. While you can access Skyline Advisor almost immediately, note that you will not see any proactive findings for ~48 hours. This is the time needed by Skyline to analyze the collected data and generate proactive findings for you to review.

Product Endpoints

Part of installing and configuring the Skyline Collector is adding product endpoints to the Collector. Product endpoints include vCenter Server and NSX Manager. It is required to add at least one product endpoint to the Skyline Collector in order for proactive findings to be created. You can add a vCenter Server (Step 7) or an NSX Manager (Step 8) to the Skyline Collector during the Skyline Collector Initial Configuration Wizard. Or, you can add either product endpoint to the Skyline Collector after deployment, using the Skyline Collector administrative interface.

This combination of product endpoint, added to the Skyline Collector, which is registered to a single Cloud Services Organization enables data segregation within Skyline. This following diagram details the architecture for a single Cloud Services Organization for Skyline. Skyline Advisor and the Users who can access Skyline Advisor are associated to the Cloud Service Organization. The Skyline Collector has a 1:1 relationship with an Organization. A Skyline Collector cannot belong to more than one Organization. Product endpoints (vCenter Server, NSX Manager) are added to the Skyline Collector. This architecture is the foundation for Cloud Services Organization for Skyline.

Cloud Services Organization for Skyline Foundation

Identity and Access Management

The final component to the Cloud Services Organization for Skyline architecture are the users who can access Skyline Advisor. Using the Identity and Access Management feature of VMware Cloud Services, you can add users to your Organization for the purposes of viewing proactive findings within Skyline Advisor. Additionally, you can give users additional control, such as the ability to deploy additional Skyline Collectors within the Organization. We’ll detail how you can manage user access to Skyline Advisor in Part 3 of this series. If you can’t wait for Part 3, follow the steps in Manage Skyline Advisor Users within the Getting Started with Skyline Advisor documentation.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll share how to add a 2nd Skyline Collector to your Organization. Additionally, we’ll explain why you would want to add a 2nd Collector to your Organization. This article shares how to get started and create the foundation for deploying Skyline. If you have any questions, you can always leave a comment, or start a discussion within the Skyline Community. The Skyline Community is moderated by a team of VMware Technical Support Engineers, therefore your question will not go unanswered.