Nick Fritsch

Proactively Identifying Potential Risk with VMware Skyline

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As part of our goal to continuously improve the customer support experience, Technical Support Engineers (TSEs) can now interactively view the proactive findings and recommendations delivered to customers today within the Skyline Operational Summary Report (OSR). Additionally, within the findings and recommendations, TSEs can view customer environment inventory information along with all Support Requests (SRs) for the particular customer they are assisting. All of this together enables Global Support Services (GSS) to better help our customers. These new capabilities are only available to those customers who have adopted VMware Skyline.

VMware Skyline is available globally to Premier Services customers along with a select number of Production Support customers. If you are interested in receiving proactive support from VMware, show your interest by signing-up for the Managed Access Program. We will continue to invite customers from the Managed Access Program as we scale proactive support services. Additionally, you can ask your VMware Account Team for information about how we’re radically transforming the customer support experience.

Going Beyond Break/Fix

When the circumstances exist that a SR is needed to troubleshoot an issue, TSEs will help the customer resolve the issue. Additionally, they can now review the customer’s proactive findings and recommendations as part of the SR process.

Perhaps the customer experienced an issue that was discovered by Skyline. In that instance, the TSE can immediately assist the customer with determining how many additional objects could be impacted by the same issue. TSEs can now help answer the question, how many more objects could be impacted by the same issue. Furthermore, the recommendation to resolve the issue has already been found, helping expedite the resolution of the issue across all impacted and potentially impacted objects.

Or, if a customer experiences an issue that requires a patch or update, the TSE can review the proactive findings and recommendations to determine if the patch or update required to resolve the original issue, could also resolve additional potential issues. This is not always the case, however, with more information available to TSEs, the better enabled they are to help customers.

Interactive findings and recommendations

Finding Potential Issues

TSEs can now view customer proactive findings and recommendations within a SaaS-based web application. This allows for better search and filter capabilities of findings and recommendations. TSEs can sort by issue severity, quickly looking at all critical findings within a customer’s environment. Or, a TSE can filter for only network-related findings if assisting a customer with a network-related SR. All of this together better enables our TSEs to better serve our customers and assist them beyond just problem resolution.

Technical Support Engineers can sort by issue severity or filter by compute, network or storage


Today, customers who have adopted proactive support with VMware Skyline receive an OSR. Within the OSR, customers are proactively notified of potential risks within their environment. Additionally, recommendations are provided for how to remediate those potential risks. Now, TSEs have this same information at their fingertips and can help customers with understanding potential risk within their VMware environment.

These new enhanced support capabilities are only available to customers who are receiving proactive support with VMware Skyline. This is just one of many steps VMware is taking is radically transform the customer support experience. Additional information about VMware Skyline is below.

Additional Resources


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Introducing the Skyline Collector 1.2, Now GDPR Compliant

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We are excited to announce the release of the Skyline Collector 1.2. The Skyline Collector enables VMware Global Support Services (GSS) to deliver proactive support. With proactive support, GSS can notify you of potential issues and areas of risk within your vSphere and NSX environments. Most noteworthy, proactive support is available at no additional cost to customers with an active Production Support or Premier Services contract.

Please sign up for the Managed Access Program if interested in learning more about proactive support. Premier Services customers should contact their Support Account Manager/Support Account Engineer for information how they can begin receiving proactive support from VMware today.

GDPR Compliant

With the release of the Skyline Collector 1.2, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is no longer sent to VMware as part of the collected product usage data. We identified a few scenarios where usernames and email addresses were collected within the product usage data. Now, with the release of the Skyline Collector 1.2, usernames and passwords are no longer sent to VMware within the collected product usage data.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) no longer sent to VMware

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) no longer sent to VMware

Furthermore, once upgraded to the Skyline Collector 1.2, we have retroactively removed usernames and email addresses from previously collected product usage data. This completes the process of becoming GDPR compliant with regard to the product usage data collected by the Skyline Collector for the purpose of delivering proactive support.

You are required to upgrade to the Skyline Collector 1.2 to prevent PII from being sent to VMware. As an additional measure, any PII collected from previous versions of the Skyline Collector (1.1.x, 1.0) will be scrubbed from the system on a scheduled basis. For that reason, we recommend upgrading your Skyline Collector to 1.2 as soon as possible. We will be decommissioning earlier versions of the Skyline Collector in the future. Use the VAMI (Appliance Management UI) to check for and install Skyline Collector updates. You can access the VAMI by browsing to the IP address or FQDN of the Collector, port 5480 (i.e. IP address/FQDN:5480)

Check for and Install Updates to the Skyline Collector appliance within the VAMI.

Check for and Install Updates to the Skyline Collector appliance within the VAMI.

NSX Manager

In the past, when configuring NSX for product usage data collection, credentials to both NSX Manager and the NSX Controllers were required. Skyline Collector 1.2 no longer requires direct access to NSX Controllers. For micro-segmentation and vShield endpoint customers, where NSX Controllers are not required, this further simplifies the Skyline Collector configuration process.

Add an NSX Manager wizard within the Skyline Collector 1.2.

Add an NSX Manager wizard within the Skyline Collector 1.2.

The Skyline Collector requires a user with read-only permissions to NSX Manager. NSX Manager has a built-in, read-only role, named Auditor. We recommend creating a user with Auditor role permissions for adding an NSX Manager to the Skyline Collector for collecting product usage data.

Learn More About Skyline

You spoke, we listened. At VMworld 2017, during the Pat Gelsinger and Michael Dell QA session, the first question that was submitted by you, our customers, was regarding improving the overall quality of VMware support. VMware Skyline is just one of the ways we’re using a combination of technology and people to improve our customers’ support experience.

Watch and listen to Pat’s response during the QA session with Michael Dell during the Day 2 General Session at VMworld 2017.

Visit the VMware Skyline Overview page to learn more about proactive support delivered by VMware.

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Skyline – Proactive Recommendations for Issue Avoidance

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VMware Skyline is a proactive support technology that listens for changes, events and patterns within your VMware environment. This information is then analyzed using a robust rules and machine learning engine. Once data analysis has completed, proactive recommendations are provided for each potential issue identified within your environment. These recommendations are based on VMware’s ever-growing library of knowledge that include Knowledge Base articles, Best Practices and Security/Hardening Guidance.

Environment specific information is collected using the Skyline Collector. The Collector is a standalone virtual appliance that connects to product endpoints such as vCenter Server and NSX Manager. You can view an overview for how to download, install and configure the Collector here.

Breakthrough Visibility

Have you ever contacted VMware Global Support Services (GSS) to report that you experienced a purple screen of death (PSOD)? During your conversation with GSS, were you made aware that a patch is already available for the issue? Wouldn’t it have been nice to been made aware of the patch before you experienced the PSOD? Just think about the time and frustration that could’ve been saved if you would’ve been notified of the patch before the PSOD occurred.

With this in mind, Skyline can proactively notify you that your environment displays characteristics that could lead to a PSOD. Additionally, a tailored recommendation for how to prevent the issue from occurring is provided. Ultimately, Skyline well help customers increase the reliability and security of their environments while also reducing time spent resolving break-fix issues.

Sample PSOD Finding within the Operational Summary Report

Sample PSOD Finding within the Operational Summary Report

A complete overview of the Operational Summary Report can be found here.

Save Time and Enhance Security

On the other hand, perhaps security is most important to you. Skyline can proactively identify vCenter Server(s), ESXi hosts and virtual machines that are vulnerable to Spectre/Meltdown. The vulnerable objects (vCenter, ESXi, VMs) are provided to you as Findings within the Operational Summary Report. Each Finding has a corresponding report that details each object identified for the particular issue. The relevant VMware Security Advisory and/or Knowledge Base article are provided within the Recommendations section of the Finding.

Sample Recommendation for Spectre/Meltdown

Sample Recommendation for Spectre/Meltdown

Let’s take a closer look at what is accomplished by utilizing Skyline. First, we’re proactively identifying what objects are impacted. This saves the customer time in manually trying to determine the scope of vulnerable systems. Second, recommendations are tailored and delivered directly to the customer. Customers can quickly begin planning for and remediating vulnerabilities within their environment. Altogether, the scope of vulnerable systems are automatically identified and the information required to secure the environment is provided.

Getting Started with Skyline

If you are interested in Skyline, sign-up via the Managed Access Program. For VMware Premier Support Customers, reach out to your Support Account Manager/Engineer to get started today. Additional information about Skyline can be found here.

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