Quick review : Runecast Analyzer

Recently we came into contact with a company called Runecast to review their product called Runecast Analyzer. We quickly decided to do a quick review of the product and keep you updated how this product develops even further! We will also be paying them a visit on VMworld Barcelona to get some more details from the guys/girls themselves. So we will keep you updated!

Runecast Custom Logo

Features

VMware KB Scan

Runecast analyzer is able to scan your vSphere environment for known issues described in KB articles from the VMware knowledgebase (kb.vmware.com), displays them in a table (sorted by severity) and allows you to copy this information or export this information easily for use in custom reports you might want to build from this information (note: in the version i’m using the PDF-export is showing a cut off PDF, but i’m sure this will be fixed in a feature release). The table allows you to dive deeper into the details of the KB and on which objects (vSphere Server, ESXi-host or VM) are affected by this issue.

Runecast VMware KB Scan

Runecast can collect information for this VMware KB Scan in two ways:

  1. Configuration Analysis (Manual / Scheduled)
  2. Continuous log collection and analysis from ESXi-hosts and VM-logs. Runecast allows you to automatically configure the host syslog settings ( you could also manually configure Syslog.global.logHost or  use a host profile to point all your ESXi hosts to the) and VM log settings (  vmx.log.destination = syslog-and-disk ) to point at the Runecast virtual appliance. Runecast uses this information to even find more issues which might be occurring in your environment by doing log analysis on the logs it receives.

Runecast Log Collection

Compliance checks / Security hardening

Besides pointing you at possible (severe) issues that might happen in your environment, like PSOD’s, VM’s losing connection or VM’s going down, Runecast also checks your environment against Best Practices (which are selected and put together by a team of their. virtualization experts and security guidelines (which VMware publishes in their vSphere Security Hardening Guides). Of course not all best practises and security guidelines are applicable to every organization, so Runecast allows you to modify the list of compliance checks which are applicable to your organization.

Runecast Issuelist

Findings

Up and running in no time

If you know how to deploy an .OVA in a vSphere environment you will also be able to deploy and configure Runecast in your environment. Installing and configuring Runecast is a question of minutes. Deploy the .OVA, connect to your vCenter-server and you can start scanning your environment and within minutes time get a good view of possible issues in your environment (missing patches, settings which could wreak havoc on your environment and so on). Also like automatically setting up the log collection for the ESXi-hosts and VM logging all at once from Runecast automatically (But will not always be applicable, because there can already be a syslog-host set-up which the host is logging to and in that case you might like a custom configuration for your syslog settings).

Easy to use and looks great

I must say the analyzer is looking pretty clean and the information you need is easy to find and especially the main dashboard which shows you in one view how much could be improved in your environment is a very good starting point to start clicking deeper into the different area’s of the product.

Runecast Dashboard

Improvements

Applying settings / fixes automatically

What I would like to see in this product (or in an add-on product or something like that) is the possibility to auto-heal some settings. example put them in a host profile or VUM baseline so they can be applied to groups of machines or applied directly to the affected hosts/VM’s. This will give you a quick way to resolve the issues in an automated way.

Connect to Multiple vCenters

Currently you can only connect Runecast to one vCenter server, but I think it would be nice to be able to connect Runecast to multiple vCenter Servers.

Runecast vCenter Connections Settings

Support for other virtualization platforms

As I’m currently working on a project in a big Hyper-V environment and would like a quick overview of possible issues in this environment. To see this kind of product for Microsoft Hyper-V or other hypervisors (XenServer, AHV) would be great!

Conclusion

This product gives VMware Admins a great tool to monitor their environment for possible issues, best practices they could apply and ways to get their security standards up without looking through tons of pages of documentation and would have liked to have this product in my toolkit when I was a starting VMware consultant. This product makes sure you don’t have to hire a VMware-specialist for doing a full health check on your environment but you only have to hire him for very special problems (things which make him feel fantastic when he fixes them 🙂 ).

A free 30-day full functional trial is available so there is no excuse to not give it a go!

More information

More information can be found at:

Website: www.runecast.biz
Runecast Analyzer User Guide: www.runecast.biz/RunecastUserGuide1.0.pdf

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Robert Verdam

Consultant at bConn ICT
My main focus is infrastructure (Storage, Networking and Computing), but I'm also very interested in designing and implementing VDI and Server Based Computing-environments.

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