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Runecast vs VMware Skyline – Review

Proactive analysis is playing a key role in nowadays modern datacenters. Everybody is looking for options and tools which they can manage and identify the coming issues and outages to their datacenters. Runecast and VMware Skyline are two similar products which you can use to do a proactive analysis and take proactive measures to your mission critical workloads.

Recently, I joined to a webinar about the introduction of Runecast and also I was able to work with VMware Skyline as well. So I thought to try and do a review about these two products, hope my readers can take a great insight about these products after reading my post.

I already wrote an article about VMware Skyline and I thought to give a quick introduction about the features of Runecast Analyzer in this post.

So What is Runecast Analyzer?

It’s a tool which brings issue-prevention solutions to the business and minimize the impact to the complex systems can have by giving you the power of prevention measures along with the proactive analysis.

You can start it with a small OVF deployment and configuration can be varied with Small, Medium and Large scale deployments. You can select it in the deployment and it is obvious that virtual hardware resources can be different according to the configuration.

Once it deployed you can connect one or more vCenters to the Runecast Analyzer and after scanning your environment it will give you the status of your datacenter, it has a great interactive dashboard which customer can see the status of their datacenter against the VMware knowledge base.

I will write another article for the Runecast Analyzer review and I’d like to compare Runecast analyzer and VMware Skyline each other in this post.

Both Runecast Analyzer and VMware Skyline main messaging is: “ Proactively identify and prevent problems ”. But each one uses a fundamentally different approach

Runecast Analyzer:

  • Is a software product for end-users
  • It has analytical engine with runs on-prem on the user side and evaluates VMware setup conditions. It scans vSphere and vSAN, immediately (1-2 minutes max.) shows detected problems. This can be repeated manually anytime or scheduled
  • In addition to configuration and hardware details, Runecast Analyzer performs real-time log analysis and identifies issues in the logs immediately and links them to Knowledge Base articles
  • Runecast software comes with an interactive dashboard with real-time issues, alerts and reports
  • Works fully offline with no need for internet connectivity
  • The software runs as a server on a single VM instance, no agents needed

VMware Skyline: 

  • Comes as a service. Only for VMware customers under “VMware Premium Support”
  • The end-user doesn’t have any visual dashboard/UI showing detected issues, alerts and risk management of connected vCenters
  • VMware Skyline uses a “Collector” appliance which needs to be installed on-prem and it scans users’ systems and send findings to the Skyline cloud for further analysis. VMware personnel analyzes the data and generates a report on what is recommended to fix. The report is then delivered to the end-user for further communication. The end-user can’t control the speed of analysis or a time when the report is returned
Both Runecast and VMware help IT admins and engineers to operate better data centers and the goal is to mitigate potential outage service slow-down. To do that, each of the solutions uses different approaches and have different coverage of potential situations

Runecast Analyzer:

  • Runecast Analyzer is frequently updated with VMware Knowledge Base articles for vSphere and vSAN, and support for NSX-V is under the development. It also covers VMware Best Practices for vSphere and vSAN
  • The big advantage of Runecast product is the log analysis. It collects syslogs from vCenters, ESXi hosts and VMs and uses smart analysis to discover Knowledge Base problems and also speeds up troubleshooting by point to the trending log events, which are usually related to VMware problems
  • In addition to vendor knowledge sources, Runecast Analyzer includes scanning against known issues in validated social media sources (blog articles, forums). In some cases critical issues appear first in social media before being officially documented by the vendor

VMware Skyline:

  • VMware Skyline conducts analysis of a user data collected from the collector in alignment with VMware best practices
  • Since VMware Skyline processes the users’ data through their support tier, the extra recommendation can come from that
Last but not least, security of the virtualized infrastructure is a very important aspect and significant part of the IT budget spendings. The proactive tools should definitely cover that area too and help to manage associated risks.

Runecast Analyzer:

  • Runecast Analyzer contains a database of VMware security hardening checks and federal DISA-STIG 6 compliance. The Analyzer scans periodically attached vCenters and reports all violations and passed criteria for both security profiles
  • Aside from regular Knowledge Base updates, Runecast delivers special and immediate updates (daily basis) in any kind of severe security risk, such as CPU flaws Spectre and Meltdown, which allows admins to very quickly detect vulnerable assets and patch them properly

VMware Skyline:

  • VMware Skyline doesn’t claim any specific security feature or compliancy standards

I have not been able to log a support request and get the support from Runecast support yet, so at this point I’m not able to provide a comment on Runecast support.

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My Thoughts

Download, installation and configuration was really easy. Connecting to the vCenter server was not a big deal either. Soon after I connected the vCenter I was able to scan my environment and interactive dashboard displayed all my issues and KB articles on the dashboard. I didn’t want to do a google search and find the relevant KBs it directly gave the KB articles, just a simple mouse click away. Also, this tool works without the internet and offline database can be included.

It provides the issue list as with the severity and I was easily identify the most critical and least critical issues in my environment.

Security hardening also one of the key point here and it gives you a greater visibility against the result with the Pass/Fail status, so it gives greater visibility of the environment security

I haven’t got a chance to log a support request and work with the Runecast engineers so I’m not able to comment on their support assistance.

According to my point of view Runecast is one of the greater tools for the Proactive and predictive analysis in your VMware based virtual environment. There is no this type of dashboard in VMware Skyline and also as a customer we are not able to see the real time status of our datacenter, we have to wait until we get the OSR from VMware engineer.

Thank You for your Feedback ! Those are purely based on my experience and my honest thoughts.

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Aruna Fernando

"Sharing knowledge doesn't put your job at risk - iron sharpen iron" I heard this and it's true.

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