Runecast Less Troubleshooting, More Innovating

I recently attended an Online vRetreat hosted by Patrick Redknap where we had a presentation from Kev Johnson on the latest updates with Runecast.

I have been a huge fan of Runecast since I saw the product at a VMUG a few years ago demoed by its CEO & Co-founder Stanimir Markov.

It reminded me of the Netware Config reader that was so key to my job 25 years ago, you produced a config file from your server, ran it through the config reader and quite simply it would tell you how to update your server and configure it for best practices. You would always check your server was optimised and up to date before calling Novell for technical support. Remember this was a time before the internet when Bulletin Board System (BBS) was king. Here are some old pictures I found on the Internet.

Quite simply Runecast is all this and more, it will take your vCenter and Hosts and quite simply tell you what to do, to make sure its as healthy and secure as it could possibly be.

It will check your system against:

  • The VMware Knowledge base.
  • VMware Best Practices
  • The VMware HCL
  • Al the Major Security Compliance standards

How does this all work?

Basically, it is an appliance you install on premises, that’s right on premises no data going to the cloud here. For an appliance that does all this it’s quite small; I downloaded just a 1.4GB Ova file. Installation is so simple Next, Next, Next, simply point it at the vCenter and away it goes. I had it installed and running and was fixing issues in less than 20 minutes on my aging homelab.

This appliance then receives regular updates from Runecast, every time there are New KBs, updates to the HCL, patches released from VMware. For those companies that run air gapped environments no problem this has an Offline updater to allow you to update your systems.

Ease of Use.

Runecast has what I believe is one of the simplest dashboards to use, it’s not cluttered and you can immediately see the Key points.

  • Severity
  • Log Issues (once enabled)
  • Security Compliance
  • KBs Applicable to your environment
  • Best Practice Adoption

Simply click on a red item to drill in to the issue, it will tell you the fix and either how to implement it or what to download. Some are simple, maybe Time isn’t set up on one of your hosts, or maybe you need to update VMware tools. Attention to detail is all the way through the product, here there are helpful links to the VMware KB so you can have all the remediation information to hand.

Security Compliance

Security compliance is now a major part of Runecast and they recently added CIS to their list of security compliance standards. Here is a full list of all the standards they currently have in the application and I’m sure more will be coming over time.

Some Customers only buy Runecast for the Compliance and I can see why, when it’s this simple to check and recheck your environment against an ever-changing environment of patches, updates and changes to security standards. I managed to get my system up to 72% in Security Compliance and 76% in Best Practices after about an hours work but as you can see, I’ve still got a long way to go.

Hardware Compatibility and Upgrades

One of the other cool features in Runecast is the ability to compare your server against the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) down to the Bios versions.  Anyone who has spent time trying to identify which hardware is compatible knows that the HCL can be a world of pain. Pointing at my hotchpotch of servers tells me I’ve got some unsupported hardware in the form of my Gigabyte motherboard and the processor in my HP Microserver. Not a problem for my homelab but in a production environment this can be critical.

But you can take this a stage further and test out your hardware for future upgrades, using the handy Simulate upgrade feature.

Simply select the version you are thinking of upgrading to and hit Simulate.

Which immediately tells me that my Proliant is not supported past 6.5 U3 which is why I’ve held it back from upgrading.

Summary

So in summary I believe this tool would bring benefits to any organisation but don’t just take my word for it, simply go to Runecast.com where you can sign up for a free 14 day trial and evaluate it in your own environment. Remember you will be up and running in just 20 minutes.

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vRetreat and Cohesity

Vretreat

It was a clear, crisp February day a week ago when I attended my first vRetreat. These events are arranged by fellow vExpert Patrick Redknap, with this event being sponsored by Cohesity and held at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club.

So, Cohesity – what’s it all about. The day started with an introduction on Cohesity from Stuart Gilks, Systems Engineering Director. Stuart started with the statement that 80% of organisations have backup issues, which I can well believe. I always say as a system admin that we get burnt by backup and antivirus which ever products you use, a simple fault can suck your entire day. 

The core product at the heart of the Cohesity suite of products is DataProtect. DataProtect is more than just a backup and recovery product though. It can handle all the traditional backup needs so Deduplication, Compression, Replication and Encryption. But more than that it can handle almost any workload both on premise or in the cloud using their Multicloud products. That’s any hypervisor, any application, any storage and now any cloud. 

Cohesity data Protect

Stuart says they are seeing a decline in NAS usage which I suspect matches the way companies now don’t replace NAS or SAN storage but move it to S3 storage from AWS, Azure and Google. 

To read more about Dataprotect visit here  or watch this video. 

We know Cohesity does a great job on backups but it’s the file and objects services where it really starts to make a difference, using products like MapR to perform analytics on the metadata. After all, you take the time to back it up so you already have a rich set of metadata to drill in to. Stuart even demonstrated how the analytics could detect changes of patterns in the data being backed up, so seeing a sharp increase in encrypted files where previously there were none could indicate a ransomware attack and with automation it simply restores the files from before they were infected. The demo was pretty cool and if you want to see more about the ransomware detection check out their blog page on it here and be sure to watch the video as well. 

Cohesity have also just released their latest version 6.2 which now includes a number of new and improved features which you can see below. Currently they are releasing a new version every few months which shows their commitment to development.

Cohesity release highlights2

They have also announced a new OEM partnership with HPE which I think speaks volumes in a world where HP have been acquiring businesses of interest. This partnership will fill a hole in the HPE portfolio and bring HPE Apollo and Proliant servers to the Cohesity product set.

cohesity appliance

If you’re in the market for a new backup product with some excellent additions and features Cohesity may be well worth a look.

All Views expressed on this site are my own personal opinion and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now or will be affiliated.