VMware Skyline:  Making support easy!

You barely take a sip of your first cup of coffee after just arriving at the office.  Your mail client pops up with an email notification, your phone rings, you look up and see people walking towards your desk.  Augh, you know this is not going to be a good day.

We have all been in this situation, and it’s never fun but also inevitable. We work in IT. Things don’t always go as planned and stuff breaks.  How successful you are at fixing the issues depends how you deal with the situation. Some of us open our favorite tools (vROPS, vRLI, PowerCLI) and go straight into troubleshooting mode, while others pick up the phone and call support. Regardless of how you troubleshoot, it can be time-consuming and at times frustrating.

Well, VMware understands our pain and is trying to limit the frequency of these bad days by introducing automated proactive actions to prevent problems and resource contention before they even occur. Minority Report sci-fi stuff, right? Well not really, but the new features mentioned below are a game changer.

  • ProActive HA provides an additional layer of availability and avoids the need to use vSphere HA, so when your hardware starts showing signs of failure, DRS will kick in and evacuate your running VMs onto another host and place the faulty host into quarantine.
  • Predictive DRS provides placement and balance decisions using DRS and vROPS by predicting future demand and determine when and where hot spots will occur.

With all these new proactive features, we can certainly sleep better at night, but what if you still run into a problem after exhausting your troubleshooting skills and need to call support?

VMware did not stop with just proactive features in their product but took this one step further by introducing proactive support, as well as making support a more user-friendly experience with VMware Skyline.

What exactly is VMware Skyline?

VMware describes it the following way “It is a proactive support technology which uses automation to securely collect data and perform environment-specific analytics on configuration, feature, and performance data.  The resulting information may radically improve visibility into a customer’s environment, enabling richer, more informed interactions between customers and VMware without extensive time and investment by support administrators.”

In layman’s terms, what does this mean to you when you open a case with GSS?

  • Well first off, you might not even need to place a call. Skyline might proactively identify an abnormality from your system logs and contact YOU with the recommended fix and avert an outage. (Go ahead and read that again…customer support will contact YOU. Like I said, game changer!)
  • You do not have to upload any log files, GSS already has this information available. The manual process is very time consuming to perform and wastes precious time to collect, upload, and wait for VMware to analyze.
  • No need to provides information on your VMware products and versions, or changes that were introduced to the environment before the problem occurred, GSS already has this information available. Again, this can otherwise be a very time-consuming exercise.

You see a pattern here?

  • Reduced time-to-resolution for service requests
  • Identification of potential product bugs and guided resolution before problems occurs

How does VMware Skyline work?

The solution includes customer site and VMware cloud components.

Customer site:

A VMware Skyline Collector standalone appliance is required, which will automatically and securely collect usage data and then listen for changes, events, and patterns which are then streamed back to VMware.

VMware cloud component:

The platform receives the data from the onsite collector and performs analyses to as determine the following:

  • Alignment with VMware best practices
  • Comparing deployed products with licensing history
  • Determining if a problem is a known issue that can be addressed with an automatic remediation solution.

VMware Skyline advisor engine then delivers rich insight and recommendations, and uses rules to perform the following checks:

  • Checking of data such as configurations and patch levels
  • Cross-product, cross-cloud checks

VMware Technical Support Engineers

Takes the analyzed data and proactively reviews your environment, performs research analysis for service requests, and provides prescriptive recommendations back to you to improve your environment’s health and performance.

VMware will also provide regularly scheduled reports, which include information on observations and insight from ongoing analytics as well as provide prioritized recommendations.

Which products does VMware Skyline support?

With future plans to support all core products, VMware Skyline is initially available for Premier Support customers in North America.

  • VMware vSphere 5.5 and up
  • VMware NSX 6.1 and up
  • vSAN 6.6