Enabling Proactive Intelligence and Support with VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

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Enabling Proactive Intelligence and Support with VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

Today, most organizations have extensive infrastructures that span both on-premises, remote sites, and in the cloud. Gone are the days when manual support efforts effectively ensured the infrastructure was operating normally. As virtualized environments have proliferated throughout the enterprise, workloads run on top of sophisticated and advanced infrastructure, requiring proactive monitoring and support processes.

VMware Skyline Advisor offers organizations a proactive support solution for VMware products and services and allows organizations to embrace an automated approach for troubleshooting, pinpointing root/cause analysis, and support.

What is VMware Skyline?

VMware Skyline is a solution that allows businesses to save both time and money troubleshooting issues across their environments. It is a proactive self-service support solution integrated directly with VMware Global Support Services. It automatically collects and analyzes data about the VMware products and solutions in your environment and proactively identifies issues, vulnerabilities, and misconfigurations.

VMware Skyline also helps VMware support engineers identify root causes of issues more quickly with the logging functionality built into the solution. So, all the way around, VMware Skyline is a great tool that VMware customers can use in their environments to minimize the support tickets they need to place and continually tweak and tune their environment to run according to best practice recommendations.

VMware Skyline Advisor collects data from your SDDC and offers recommendations after processing them in the cloud

VMware Skyline Advisor collects data from your SDDC and offers recommendations after processing them in the cloud”

While professional support services are needed in production environments, the VMware Skyline solution provides automated intelligence that can help quickly pinpoint and resolve issues, often without escalating issues into the support queue.

What’s more, VMware Skyline Advisor is a free solution for paid production and premiere subscription customers, vRealize Cloud Universal, and Success 360 customers. It is also included in vRealize Cloud Universal. So, it does not require an additional paid license or yearly subscription fee.

VMware Skyline Advisor is one of the “no brainer” products that VMware environments should be running since it is free and can reduce the SLAs for root/cause analysis, break-fix scenarios, and preventative analysis. However, VMware has upped the game of what VMware Skyline can do with VMware Skyline Advisor Pro.

Overview of VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

Recently, VMware announced VMware Skyline Advisor Pro, building on the foundations of VMware Skyline Advisor. In addition, VMware has evolved the Skyline solution in the Pro release with much deeper intelligence and data analysis. It is also much quicker than its predecessor, VMware Skyline Advisor. These benefits lead to an even more advanced proactive support and analysis tool for VMware environments that helps customers quickly get to a resolution.

Benefits of VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

Note some of the benefits to the solution:

    1. Much faster analysis of data
    2. Additional Insights
    3. More flexibility and ease of use

1. Much faster analysis of data

One of the downsides of the original VMware Skyline Advisor solution is it can take up to 48 hours to surface issues that may be present or have developed in the environment. This time frame could lead to major issues being present in the environment for two entire days before the original VMware Skyline Advisor platform notifies you.

New with the Skyline Advisor Pro platform is accelerated analysis capabilities that allow surfacing issues and inventory changes within 4 hours, a 12X improvement. It is significantly faster than its predecessor and allows remediations to be put in place much more quickly. It also allows admins to see inventory changes, additions, and deletions reflected much more quickly. It ensures your environment is up-to-date.

This enhancement is a significant improvement when you consider that proactive support and intelligence is getting the information more quickly, leading to faster resolution times. If your proactive support is slow to respond or give you this information, it offsets the benefits. The new VMware Skyline Advisor Pro solution puts proactive responsiveness in line with what you would expect. VMware will no doubt be looking at improving the responsiveness of the solution even further over time.

Benefits of the improved speed of Skyline Advisor Pro:

    • View the latest critical issues and security vulnerabilities as soon as possible
    • Validate any remediation responses as quickly as possible after these are introduced in the environment
    • Make sure your reporting is as up-to-date as possible

2. Additional insights

VMware has designed the new VMware Skyline Advisor Pro to be a more intelligent and insightful solution than its predecessor. When Skyline Advisor Pro is smarter, you as a customer can make smarter decisions based on the information presented. In addition, it provides additional insights to help customers better understand potential environmental issues.

First of all, VMware Skyline Advisor Pro supports a wide range of VMware production products and solutions found in customer environments. These include:

    • VMware vSphere
    • VMware vRealize Automation
    • VMware Cloud Foundation

It also identifies VxRail and VMware Validated Design solution deployments. In addition, a new feature found in the new Skyline Advisor Pro solution is End of Life Insights. As many who have managed production environments know, it can be complex and challenging to keep up with all products approaching an end-of-life status and remember support dates status.

The new VMware Skyline Advisor Pro has a feature that alerts customers to installed solutions no longer receiving General Support and Technical Guidance from VMware. When solutions may no longer receive new patches, upgrades, and bug fixes, it is good to know. Skyline Advisor Pro allows you to keep this information visible across your VMware environment.

The last thing you want is to be in an unsupported condition in your production environment without having sufficient time to plan your upgrades to minimize any disruptions these may cause in your environment.

Another great new feature built into the new VMware Skyline Advisor Pro is Historical Insights. Developing trends in your environment is key to understanding the root causes of events, problems, and issues as these come up. It is another area where the new benefits of VMware Skyline Advisor Pro come to light.

With the historical insights, you have the visibility of key events in the environment ad how these relate to findings and recommendations triggered or remediated due to the change over a configurable amount of time. In other words, it might be difficult to correlate a configuration change to an issue that happens three days later or understand what may have triggered a new finding that may not seem to be directly related to a configuration change.

VMware Skyline Advisor Pro’s historical insights provide this deep understanding and trending of changes, actions, and other environmental triggers and how these relate to new findings and remediations.

Another value-added benefit of VMware Skyline Advisor Pro’s offering is Proactive Insights Reports for Success 360 customers. So what is VMware Success 360? It is an offering that continually guides VMware customers through all the stages of the journey with VMware solutions. As a result, it helps businesses continue to realize the value consistently that achieves the results organizations are looking for across the portfolio of VMware product offerings.

The Proactive Insights report is exclusive to Success 360 customers and is delivered by a dedicated team of VMware professionals explicitly assigned to your business. It includes a bi-weekly check-in to go over “health checks” and other information on issues and remediations discovered and actioned in the environment. It helps businesses achieve transparency from IT to business stakeholders, assisting with future planning.

3. More flexibility and ease of use

VMware Skyline Advisor Pro has been made even easier to use and includes even more flexibility to interact with the platform. VMware has introduced a new Insights API that provides a programmatic way to interact with Skyline Advisor Pro, allowing customers to integrate Skyline’s findings and recommendations with third-party tools.

Customers can create customized integrations with ticketing systems and other automation tooling to create automated workflows based on the Skyline Advisor Pro’s findings.

The information available – Skyline Advisor Pro vs. Skyline Advisor

Skyline Advisor Pro Skyline Advisor
Account, Environment, and Collector details. Account, Environment, and Collector details.
Inventory details for VMware vSphere™, NSX-V, NSX-T, Horizon 7, vRealize Operations Manager, VMware Cloud Foundation, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, and vRealize Automation. Inventory details for VMware vSphere™, NSX-V, NSX-T, Horizon 7, vRealize Operations Manager, VMware Cloud Foundation, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager, and vRealize Automation.
All findings discovered by Skyline, with both individual and consolidated All findings discovered by Skyline, with both individual and consolidated
Insights Reports (OSR 2.0). Operational Summary Reports (OSR).
Historic Findings NA
Streamlined support bundle upload capabilities with Skyline Log Assist. Streamlined support bundle upload capabilities with Skyline Log Assist.
Theme NA
 
You can use the Light and Dark theme toggle to move to the thematic view you prefer. Click the toggle option next to the Settings on the top to switch between Light and Dark themes.

Deploy Skyline Collector and configure the connection to Cloud Services

To take advantage of VMware Skyline Advisor Pro, organizations must deploy the VMware Skyline Collector. The Skyline Collector is a specialized OVA appliance downloaded from VMware that is the centralized collector of information and data from on-premises that is streamed to the VMware Cloud for analysis.

Starting with the Skyline Advisor November 2021 release, Skyline Advisor Pro is introduced. To activate the VMware Skyline Advisor Pro version of the solution, you need to ensure you install or upgrade to the latest Skyline Collector 3.0. Let’s take a look at the deployment process of the Skyline Collector 3.0.

First, we need to download the VMware Skyline Collector 3.0.0 Appliance. Login to your VMware Customer Connect portal and download the OVA file.

Downloading the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0 appliance from VMware
Downloading the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0 appliance from VMware

Beginning the deployment of the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0 appliance
Beginning the deployment of the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0 appliance

Name and select the folder for the VMware Skyline Collector appliance
Name and select the folder for the VMware Skyline Collector appliance

Select the compute resource

Select the compute resource

Review the initial deployment details

Review the initial deployment details

Accept the EULA

Accept the EULA

Select the storage and storage policy for the Skyline Collector appliance

Select the storage and storage policy for the Skyline Collector appliance

Select the network for the Skyline Appliance
Select the network for the Skyline Appliance

An important screen during the deployment of the VMware Skyline Advisor 3.0 appliance is the Customize template screen. On this screen, you customize the root password for the appliance and configure the network settings.

Customize the template for the VMware Skyline Collector

Customize the template for the VMware Skyline Collector

Ready to complete the OVA deployment wizard and begin the deployment.

Ready to begin the deployment of the OVA appliance

Ready to begin the deployment of the OVA appliance

Configure the connection to cloud services

After deploying the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0, the next step is to connect the appliance to the VMware Cloud Services. The collector is “headless” on its own as it requires cloud analysis and intelligence to analyze the data captured from the on-premises environment.

After deploying the VMware Skyline Advisor Collector v3.0, we need to run through a wizard to connect the appliance to the VMware Cloud Services portal. This process ties your appliance to your VMware Cloud Services portal, your support, and your licensed environment. Login to your VMware Skyline Collector IP address or FQDN in a web browser to start this process. Login with the default credentials: admin/default.

Log in to the VMware Skyline Collector
Log in to the VMware Skyline Collector

You will be prompted to change your password.

Change your password for the VMware Skyline Collector
Change your password for the VMware Skyline Collector

It will begin the initial configuration of the Skyline Collector. The configuration wizard that follows links your Collector to the VMware Cloud Services portal and performs the initial setup of the appliance. It also allows you to link your on-premises VMware technologies with VMware Skyline.

Network configuration and testing
Network configuration and testing

Decide if you want to opt into the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP).

Make your choice on the CEIP program
Make your choice on the CEIP program

The next step is the Collector registration. You have to enter a registration token into your Skyline Collector on this screen. Next, you need to log into your VMware Cloud Services account to get the registration code. Leave the browser tab connected to your Skyline Collector open, and then open a new window or tab and log into your VMware Cloud Services account. We will need to return to the initial setup wizard in just a moment to enter our Collector registration token.

Collector Registration Token request
Collector Registration Token request

After logging into the VMware Cloud Services portal, initiate adding a new Skyline collector.

Add a new Skyline collector to your environment
Add a new Skyline collector to your environment

You will see a registration token automatically generated on the screen that follows. You can copy the token from the page and also generate a new registration token.

Generating a registration token for registering the Skyline Collector
Generating a registration token for registering the Skyline Collector

Now that our Collector registration token is copied switch back to your window or tab with your initial Collector setup. Paste the Collector registration token into the Collector Registration token window of the Collector Registration step.

Registering the new VMware Skyline Collector
Registering the new VMware Skyline Collector

On the Continue Configuration screen, you will see a note about the successful registration of the VMware Collector and the need to have all your pertinent account information ready for your other VMware services and solutions. After this screen, the Initial Configuration wizard will connect the Skyline Collector to the different VMware solutions you have running in your environment.

Continue configuration of VMware Skyline collector
Continue configuration of VMware Skyline collector

Next, assign a friendly name to your new Skyline Collector.

Assigning a friendly name to your Skyline Collector
Assigning a friendly name to your Skyline Collector

You can configure how you want the VMware Skyline Collector appliance to check for and apply upgrades.

Enable Upgrade configuration settings

Enable Upgrade configuration settings

The first important connection to make is connecting VMware Skyline to vCenter Server. This is a mandatory connection that must be made to continue configuring the VMware Skyline Collector.

Configure the vCenter Server connection

Configure the vCenter Server connection

The remaining connections are optional. These include connections to NSX-V, NSX-T, VMware Horizon, VMware Cloud Foundation, vRealize Operations, and vRealize Automation.

Configure NSX-v connection from the Skyline Collector

Configure NSX-v connection from the Skyline Collector

Configure NSX-T connection

Configure NSX-T connection

Configure VMware Horizon View connection

Configure VMware Horizon View connection

Configure a connection with vRealize Operations

Configure a connection with vRealize Operations

Configure a connection to VMware Cloud Foundation
Configure a connection to VMware Cloud Foundation

Configure a connection to vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

Configure a connection to vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

Configure a connection to vRealize Automation

Configure a connection to vRealize Automation

The Final Step screen shows the connections you have made during the Initial Configuration and gives a summary of the connection information.

View the connection made from VMware Skyline

View the connection made from VMware Skyline

After clicking Finish, you will see the System Status for the VMware Skyline Collector and the connections made to on-premises solutions.

VMware Skyline Collector overview
VMware Skyline Collector overview

After deploying the VMware Skyline Collector v3.0, you will have the option to upgrade your environment to the VMware Skyline Advisor Pro offering. The process to do this is simple. You just need to click the Activate Advisor Pro button.

Option to upgrade to VMware Skyline Advisor Pro
Option to upgrade to VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

As mentioned, you will need to have all your Skyline Collectors upgraded to v3.0 collectors before you will be able to activate the Skyline Pro offering. If you have legacy collectors, you will see the message below.

Error activating Skyline Pro due to legacy collectors
Error activating Skyline Pro due to legacy collectors

After upgrading your collectors, you will be able to perform the upgrade to Skyline Advisor Pro.

The VMware Skyline Advisor Pro dashboard
The VMware Skyline Advisor Pro dashboard

How to Implement VMware Skyline for Proactive Support

One of the tremendous benefits of VMware Skyline is the proactive support capabilities it brings to the table. These features include issues findings and automatic log uploads that can shortcut getting VMware technical support. In addition, you can see the immediate benefits that VMware Skyline brings in terms of proactive support. Admins are alerted to immediate and active findings in the environment. These are also assigned criticality ratings.

Findings displayed in VMware Skyline Advisor Pro
Findings displayed in VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

There is an option in the Log Assist section to Auto Approve Log Requests. It is a per-user setting that will auto-approve transfer requests for Support Requests.

Proactive log gathering from VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

Proactive log gathering from VMware Skyline Advisor Pro

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Plus, you can visit our VMware blog to keep up with the latest articles and news on VMware.

Is it Worth it?

Organizations today have a myriad of hardware, software solutions, and application stacks that make it challenging to monitor and maintain using manual processes and tasks. Proactive, automated solutions to surface issues provide quick time to value for most organizations.

VMware Skyline Advisor and VMware Skyline Advisor Pro provide proactive, automated intelligence for your VMware software stack to understand and surface issues, analyze trends, and verify remediation. It is also a free solution at no added cost to current VMware customers and Success 360 subscriptions.

Using the VMware Skyline Advisor solution performs the heavy lifting of proactive best practices and issues discovery and resolution in VMware environments. In addition, it allows customers to have the automated support intelligence that leverages the VMware Cloud Services cloud to analyze, categorize, and assign criticality metrics to issues.

Organizations of any size realize benefits with VMware Skyline Advisor and Skyline Advisor Pro by taking the manual efforts out of surfacing issues, verifying remediation of problems, and historical/end-of-life reporting and insights. You can learn more about VMware Skyline Advisor from the official VMware resource here: VMware Skyline | Support

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Frequently Asked Questions

The VMware Skyline Advisor platform is VMware’s proactive support, analysis, intelligence, and analytics solution that helps to proactively surface issues in your VMware environment. It helps minimize the need to place support tickets directly with VMware and allows teams to resolve problems proactively. Additionally, when there is a need to work with VMware technical support, VMware Skyline Advisor provides automated log gathering and transmission to shortcut the process to gather the needed logs for an issue. The solution is free to pay VMware and Success 360 customers.
VMware Skyline Advisor is a best practices, issues, and analysis platform that provides visibility, notifications, and remediation verification. Instead of admins filtering through logs, consoles, and performing manual investigation and operations tasks to find issues, VMware Skyline Advisor does this for you automatically. It then presents its findings in an easy-to-read and intuitive web interface. In addition, it automatically categorizes issues based on criticality.
VMware Skyline Advisor is accessed in the VMware Cloud Services portal. Customers simply sign up for a VMware Cloud Services account and provision the VMware Skyline environment along with the required Skyline Connector.
VMware Skyline Advisor Pro is the latest evolution of VMware Skyline that provides faster analysis, reporting, and issue surfacing, more analysis intelligence, and new features. The new features include historical reporting and end-of-life insights. It also provides a RESTful API that allows integrating other solutions with your Skyline Analytics, such as connecting Skyline with your ticketing system.

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