How to Solve VMware Problems, Not Just Knowing About Them – Runecast Briefing Note

Troubleshooting is a big part of the VMware Administrator’s job description. The problem is that most troubleshooting is a reactive process where something has to break before IT leaps into action. The situation gets worse because after a problem has been confirmed, the vAdmin has to research what is causing the problem and then do further research on to how to fix the problem. Most tools that offer to help beleaguered vAdmins only monitor. They don’t provide insight as to potential problems or best practice violations. They also don’t provide advice on how to resolve the problem.

Time is NOT On Your Side

What’s lost in this process? Time! The users suffer an outage or performance slow down to their application. The IT professional loses time working on finding the problem and more time finding out how to fix the problem. There is also an interrupt effect, as more than likely the administrator was already working on something else important when this problem occurred. Consequently the previous project was delayed resulting in even more time lost. Everyone pays for this time loss but the IT professional feels it the most because, more than likely, the situation forces them to work extra hours to get other projects back on track.

In many cases, problems and outages are due to a known issue previously reported to VMware. In many of these situations, VMware has already drafted a Knowledge Base Article that explains the problem and how to correct it in advance. There are also plenty of resources available where experts describe best practices for keeping the VMware environment running smoothly. The problem once again is time. What vAdmin has the time to check the knowledge base every day to make sure nothing new has popped up that may impact them?

Proactive, Closed Loop Troubleshooting

Solving the various IT problems that are bound to arise requires a proactive, closed loop troubleshooting tool, not merely a systems monitoring tool. The difference is the troubleshooting tool provides continuous analysis of the environment and looks for potential problems and alerts IT to the situation before they become noticeable to users. In addition to notification, the troubleshooting tool points the administrator to potential solutions to the problem.

Introducing Runecast

Runecast is a proactive VMware management solution that uses current VMware Knowledge Base articles and the companies own expertise to analyze an organization’s virtual infrastructure. It exposes potential issues, as well as best practices violations BEFORE they cause an outage or performance degradation.

Runecast works by implementing an on-premises virtual appliance that analyzes the organization’s VMware infrastructure. The analysis can run regularly and only takes up to a couple of minutes to complete. The appliance then compares the organization’s current VMware environmental data to its store of knowledge base information, security hardening, VMware best practices and log analysis.

Runecast then reports on any areas where the configuration or log details are out of alignment with known issues and best practices. Most importantly, Runecast takes the vAdmin directly to the Knowledge Base article or Best Practice statement that will walk them through correcting the problem.

There is no transmission of configuration data across the internet. All new Knowledge updates are pulled from the Runecast Central Repository. The organization’s data never leaves its facility. Runecast even provides an offline update method, where the vAdmin can download the latest update package from the Runecast Central Repository and apply it directly to the Runecast Analyzer appliance.

Proactive vSAN Troubleshooting

In the latest release of the software, Runecast added support for vSAN, the extremely popular storage solution from VMware that enables organizations to create a hyper-converged infrastructure. Keeping the vSAN configuration in optimal condition is critical to prevent failures or outages as well as meeting performance expectations. Runecast version 1.7 scans vSAN clusters and test their configurations against a large database of knowledge articles and best practice rules, once again providing a list of risks and clear guidance on how to fix them.

StorageSwiss Take

Add-on tools that promise to monitor and manage the VMware environment typically suffer from the same problem. They DO monitor the environment, the DON’T manage it, which they lack the ability to either take corrective action or they can at least advise vAdmins on how to fix areas of concern. IT needs a tool that will proactively monitor the environment, and look for potential problem areas both now and into the future. That tool should also provide steps to fix any problems it detects.

Runecast is one of the few solutions on the market that deliver true proactive troubleshooting. It also seems to be one of the more lightweight solutions, meaning that IT can download it, run it and gain actionable intelligence without impacting or disrupting their current VMware environment.

George Crump is the Chief Product Strategist at StorONE. Prior to StorONE, George spent almost 14 years as the founder and lead analyst at Storage Switzerland, which StorONE acquired in March 2020. In his spare time, he continues to write blogs on Storage Switzerland to educate IT professionals on all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought-after public speaker. With over 30 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS, SAN, Virtualization, Cloud, and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration, and product selection.

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