What is VMware Skyline Health for vSphere?

Skyline Health discovers environmental issues and recommends solutions before the actual problems happens. Skyline is a proactive VMware support solution that is available to all customers who have subscribed to Basic, Production, or Premier Support.

Skyline covers vSphere and VSAN Health, in addition to NSX-V, Horizon 7, and vRealize Operations Manager (vROPS). Skyline also includes SkylineLog Assist, which reduces customer effort in uploading support log bundles to VMware Global Support Services (GSS); with the customer's permission, the upload is performed automatically on a periodic basis.

VMware Skyline offers different sets of services depending on which support level you subscribe to. For example, customers who subscribe to the Premier support level can benefit from advanced troubleshooting findings, advanced reporting, and tailored remediation plans. Customers with Production support can get support for the products mentioned above, starting with vSphere 5.5. They can get help via automated log uploading with Log Assist and have shorter times to resolution than customers with just Basic support.

Skyline Health is accessible through the vSphere Dashboard in vCenter Server. In fact, since vSphere 6.7 Update 3b there is a new menu entry called Skyline Health. The current release of vSphere 6.7 U3a has this menu entry, but the name is either vSphere Health or vSAN Health, depending on which part of the infrastructure you select (vCenter Server object or vSAN object).

VMware vSAN Health will become VMware Skyline Health

VMware vSAN Health will become VMware Skyline Health

To monitor your vSphere infrastructure with Skyline Health, you must meet certain requirements. One such requirement is to enable the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP); the other is to have internet connectivity.

Note: You can enable CEIP at any time if you didn't do so when installing your vCenter. You can check this in the vSphere Client by selecting Administration > Deployment > Customer Experience Improvement Program.

Change settings for the Customer Experience Improvement Program

Change settings for the Customer Experience Improvement Program

The use of VMware Skyline might be a problem for customers running highly secure environments without internet access, since the system needs to send some data to VMware.

To start with VMware Skyline, you must connect to the VMware cloud site at https://cloud.vmware.com/skyline and create a Cloud Services Organization.

VMware Skyline at VMware

VMware Skyline at VMware

 

After this, you can download Skyline Collector. This is a virtual appliance that runs in your on-prem environment, collecting logs and analyzing your environment. The organization owner must grant access for users to Skyline Advisor. You must possess the Skyline Advisor service role. If you don't, then you won't have access to Skyline Advisor.

Which services are covered and what's on the roadmap? ^

The first two products covered by VMware Skyline will be VMware vSAN and VMware vCenter Server, as they are the most critical core products that VMware wants to have covered. If something happens with vSAN, then the more data VMware technicians have for analysis, the better. The same goes for vCenter.

Even though much has been done to mitigate problems, nothing is problem-free. In the past, there were several areas in vCenter Server where things could go wrong. From a failed virtual disk, to a DB problem, or vSAN partition corruption.

VMware is working on enhancements and will be covering more products in the future via Skyline. A new Dell integration will be available for customers using Dell PowerEdge Server hardware. Customers will see a notification in Skyline Advisor, informing them they can download Dell EMC SupportAssist Enterprise (SAE) to monitor and support Dell hardware proactively. If you're already using Dell EMC SAE, you'll see a new notification link to download VMware Skyline, so this new offering will work both ways.

Skyline Advisor benefits ^

Skyline Advisor, which is basically the high-end assistance and support app, will cover vSphere, vSAN, NSX-V, Horizon, and vRealize Operations Manager (vROPS). You'll benefit from proactive findings and health checks, as well as on-demand analysis that can be scheduled and automated. Notifications can be sent via an alerting system that can be SNMP-based, through email, or through in-product alerts.

VMware vSphere tech preview

VMware vSphere tech preview

When you click the Skyline Advisor, you're taken to your online account at https://skyline.vmware.com, where you can connect. If you don't have an account yet, you can create one.

Within the portal, you can access your inventory and view proactive findings and recommendations. You'll be advised about potential risks if you don't take any actions to correct the problems you might have.

Skyline Advisor is included in the proactive support package that you subscribed to. It is included with the Production and Premier support contracts. Skyline proactive support gathers some data about your installation, which is necessary, and uploads the data via a secure channel. VMware uses an encrypted channel and stores those data at its US facility.

Conclusion ^

Customers seeking to protect their business-critical installations get the right tools and services from VMware to avoid disaster, including the right advice at the right moment. Data centers with heterogenous hardware and a variety of firmware and driver combinations are very difficult to maintain. There are already other solutions from vendors other than VMware, but VMware is working hard to maintain its superiority in this critical area.

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