Category Archives: Vendor Brief

Vendor Brief: Runecast

runecast3This evening I was amongst a group of vExperts attending a webinar briefing from Runecast. The company is relatively new on the scene at only a couple of years old, but the product has created a stir in the VMware community. In this briefing CEO Stanimir Markov gave an overview of the product before Senior Engineer Ivaylo Ivanov dived into a walkthrough of the vRealize Operations integration they have developed.

Runecast Analyzer is a platform which takes the VMware knowledge base,along with some expertise, best practises, and regulations (for example the DISA STIGs used by US Federal Agencies) and runs an analysis to determine which of these advisories or best practises apply to the target virtual infrastructure. This produces a report of findings – perhaps there’s a missing patch, or a configuration issue which has been flagged as a potential trouble-spot – which exposes existing issues and enables the admin to keep their infrastructure running smoother. Runecast also scour social media, blog articles, and online forums to pick up on potential issues sometimes before they have been officially recognised by VMware and made it into the Knowledge Base.

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The application is deployed as a virtual appliance and sits in the datacentre where it can talk to vCenter(s) and the ESXi hosts themselves (for example to receive host logs via syslog). The current version – Runecast Analyzer 1.6.2 – will support vSphere 5.x and 6.x versions. Although it usually requires an internet connection to download the latest updates, no data is sent back and in high security environments it’s even possible to run the system totally disconnected from the internet- providing updates on downloaded and tested ISO images.

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VMworld this year saw the launch of the vRealize Orchestrator plugin which was covered in the demo portion of this briefing. This integration allows the potential for more automated responses to issues. As an example,  if there’s a Knowledge Base article which states that a certain configuration may cause an error and suggests a fix or workaround, a vRO workflow could be put together to interrogate the Runecast Analyzer instance, spot affected objects in the environment and apply the fix.

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The Analyzer product is continually developing. vSAN and NSX support are on the roadmap along with integration with PCI-DSS compliance checks. If all this sounds interesting, check it out- there’s a free 14-day trial available through the Runecast.biz website.

 

Beginners Guide to….. Runecast Analyzer
What does it do?

imageMonitors your environment against a list of VMware KB articles, and other industry guidelines to proactively avoid problems ensure your virtual infrastructure is running to best practises.

What do I need to buy?

Runecast Analyzer deploys as a virtual appliance with licensing based on ESXi sockets. There is a free 14-day trial.

How do I use it?

Deploy the OVA to your environment and point it at vCenter. Management of the product is via an HTML5 web interface, the vSphere (or VRO) Client via a plugin, or a REST API.

Where can I find out more?

 

Please read my standard Declaration/Disclaimer and before rushing out to buy anything bear in mind that this article is based on a sales presentation rather than a POC or production installation. I wasn’t paid to write this article or offered any payment.


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Vendor Brief: Turbonomic

I’ve blogged about Turbonomic before– when they evolved from VMTurbo in 2016 and at VMworld 2017 in Barcelona I had a sit down with Perry and Giampiero from the company to see where the product was at 12 months on.

This is a single product company- “Turbonomic” is both the company name and the product name. The product “enables workload self-management” – in a nutshell monitors the environment to ensure that whenever possible applications are given the resources they require. Consider this at its core to be “DRS on steroids”- I was told they can get a density of 30% more VMs per host compared to normal VMware DRS.

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The thinking behind the resource allocation by Turbonomic is very focussed on a desired state, rather than looking out for something broken they look at the situation from another perspective by defining what a good state looks like and then worrying about how to get there. To get to this good state the software will take into account placement (host, datastore etc), scaling (looking for oversized VMs as well as undersized), and the capacity of resources available.

The Turbonomic software tries to look at the big picture of the estate- for example “will migrating a hot virtual machine using high CPU onto a new host have a knock on effect on the memory available to other VMs already present on that host?”. The aim, as with any resource scheduler, is to make the best use of the resources available and when an application has a requirement for certain resources it will find the best location and (in Turbonomic’s case) size for that VM.

One example application of this resizing process that was suggested is the deployment of new VMs. Rather than deploying T-shirt sized VMs a company could just deploy “Small” and then Turbonomic could automatically scale those VMs up (or down) through their lifecycle to ensure that the application had the resources it required (subject to availability). In my opinion this sounds like an improvement over the normal “T-shirt” model as it allows more flexibility for applications which need more memory, or more CPU, but perhaps not both. If VMs are sized according to their current requirements, rather than their original template this must surely reduce wastage and therefore potentially save money.

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Similar to the affinity rules in DRS, Turbonomic also allows multi-tier apps to be grouped together in units they call “vPods”. For example if an application has a web server and database server and you’d like them to stay together to keep any network traffic in-host. On the subject of DRS, existing policies from vCenter can be imported into the software.

Public clouds are obviously an important tool when manipulating workloads that can scale on demand, and unsurprisingly Turbonomic has integrations here. As well as being able to negotiate with your on-premises environment, the software can talk to the major cloud providers. This provides additional benefits as an oversized VM in the cloud can have big financial implications and the ability to automatically downsize is possibly more important here than in an on-premises environment. Also in the modern multi-cloud world Turbonomic can monitor cloud pricing across vendors along with real-time workload usage and suggest moving services to a different provider, including a real pound/dollar/euro/etc figure of how much a migration could save.

In summary, Turbonomic is worth a look if you’re looking to implement a new monitoring solution and want some automation around it, or if you are looking to reduce your outlay on servers in your own datacentre or your monthly bill from the public cloud.

Beginners Guide to….. Turbonomic

What does it do?

Monitors your environment and moves and scales workloads to give them the resources they need wherever possible.

What do I need to buy?

Turbonomic is a virtual appliance with licensing based on the physical core count or virtual machine count. There is a free 30-day trial.

How do I use it?

Deploy the OVA to your environment and point it at vCenter (and any cloud providers). Management of the product is via a web interface.

Where can I find out more?

turbonomic.com

Please read my standard Declaration/Disclaimer and before rushing out to buy anything bear in mind that this article is based on a sales discussion at a trade show rather than a POC or production installation. I wasn’t paid to write this article or offered any payment, although I did pick up a branded drink bottle.

Vendor Brief: Rubrik

clip_image001Rubrik have become the new “cool kid” of backups and in the past couple of years I’ve seen lots of enthusiasm in the community for the product. To reinforce this their stand at the Barcelona show featured a Mercedes Formula 1 car, their marketing giveaways include custom LEGO figures based on Mr Men books (you can’t not be cool with that combination), and they topped it all when they gave away 1000 copies of the Host Resources Deep Dive book by Niels Hagoort and Frank Denneman to attendees. Aside from the swag Rubrik have made impressive steps in the Gartner Magic Quadrant and received awards at VMworld US last month. Continue reading