VMware Skyline™ is radically transforming customer support
By: Dale Ferrario
Customers like you that run business-critical operations on VMware environments need an infrastructure that’s always-on and optimized for peak performance. You expect fast, environment-specific remediation recommendations, and proactive analytics that identify problems before they occur.
We’re addressing these needs with VMware Skyline™: an innovative support technology, developed entirely by VMware Engineering, that provides VMware technical support engineers with extreme visibility into your environment.
Imagine if we knew your environment as well as you do. We could tell you – in advance – of a problem you’d have in the future. And then we gave you proactive, prescriptive, and predictive recommendations to fix the issue. And if you do need to call us with a problem, we have the visibility into your environment that lets us quickly diagnose your situation without a lot of effort and hours on your part.
Here’s how it works. Customers with active support subscriptions install the VMware Skyline Collector, a standalone appliance that automatically and securely collects product usage data such as configuration, feature, and performance data.
It then listens for changes, events and patterns and analyzes the information using a robust rules and machine learning engine. The rules engine is where an ever-growing library of support intelligence, product knowledge, and logic is stored to analyze inbound streams of product information.
It will alert when a customer has deviated from a VMware Validated Design or needs to align to a best practice configurations or patch level. Issues identified are fed into the analytics library – consisting of hundreds of detection rules – to allow us to solve the issue for multiple customers.
And you can rest assured knowing that we take privacy and security seriously – VMware Skyline has a robust privacy program. Customer data is transferred to VMware over an encrypted channel and is stored in a secure VMware repository in the US, operated by VMware.
Then the VMware Technical Support Engineer takes the analyzed, environment-specific data to provide prescriptive recommendations back to you to improve your environment’s reliability and stability.
Aligned to Global Services offerings, VMware Skyline is initially available for Premier Support customers with Production Support customer availability coming next year. Today VMware Skyline provides increased visibility for VMware vSphere and VMware NSX environments. Additional products will be added over time.
With minimal administration, a rigorous privacy and security policy, and transformational value, VMware Skyline is a game changer for your support experience with VMware.
Sign up today to join our Managed Access program at https://www.vmware.com/support/services/skyline.html
We recently announced that Windows PowerShell 2.0 is being deprecated in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Deprecation is a process whereby technologies or applications are marked as legacy, signalling to users that they may be removed in the future, and that should move away from them and towards newer alternatives.
We do not currently have a timeline to remove Windows PowerShell 2.0, but as we continue to evaluate its usage in the PowerShell ecosystem, we will be working to remove it in a future release. When this decision is made, we will give plenty of notice via official Windows deprecation channels (like the above support link), as well as this blog. However, at this time, we recognize that it’s usage is still prevalent, and we won’t make this decision without giving ample time for users to migrate away from it.
I’m a PowerShell expert, just give me the quick version
If you’re very familiar with the PowerShell ecosystem, this is a quick guide for moving off of Windows PowerShell 2.0. If not, read on through the rest of the blog for a better explanation of the technical details.
If you’re hosting any PowerShell assemblies (e.g.
System.Management.Automation.dll) in a .NET CLR2 (i.e. .NET Framework 2.0 – 3.5) application, you should work to move your application to CLR4 (i.e. .NET Framework 4.6+) or .NET Core.
What is Windows PowerShell 2.0?
Windows PowerShell 2.0 first shipped as the version of Windows PowerShell built into Windows 7 (where it was not an optional feature). It was also shipped, via the Windows Management Framework (WMF) to older versions of Windows, including:
- Windows Server 2008
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows XP
When Windows PowerShell 3.0 was released as part of Windows 8, Server 2008 R2, and WMF 3.0, Windows PowerShell moved to a newer version of the .NET Framework (CLR4) that was not compatible older applications. In order to maintain backwards compatibility with these older applications, we kept Windows PowerShell 2.0 as an optional, side-by-side component in later versions of Windows and Windows Server. You could take advantage of this optional component by using
powershell -version 2 to start the older version of the engine, or by continuing to use a PowerShell assembly in a .NET CLR2 application. Note: specifying any version higher than
5) will load the latest, non-2.0 version of Windows PowerShell on the machine, regardless of the number specified.
Why is it being deprecated?
Windows PowerShell 5.x has some great new features that enhance security including enhanced transcription logging and AMSI protection.
As PowerShell Core 6.0 enters the marketplace, we’d like to reduce the complexity of the PowerShell ecosystem. Removing an outdated version of .NET from the equation makes development easier for cmdlet and script authors by focusing on the .NET Standard ecosystem that includes only .NET Framework 4.6+ and .NET Core 2.0.
What does this mean for me?
You can check whether Windows PowerShell 2.0 is installed by running the following (as an administrator).
On Windows 7/8.1/10, the following will return a
State as either
Get-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName MicrosoftWindowsPowerShellV2
On Windows Server, the following will return an
InstallState of either
If Windows PowerShell 2.0 is not installed on your machine(s) and everything is working fine, you probably don’t need to worry about deprecation.
If Windows PowerShell 2.0 is installed, there are a few cases where you might be using it:
Scripting with Windows PowerShell 2.0
- You’re running
powershell.exe -version 2(often shortened to
powershell -v 2) when running scripts or as a shell. This is the easiest to mitigate: simply try running your scripts without the
-version 2. If it works fine, stop using
- You’re running a PowerShell script that calls
#requires -version 2at the top. If Windows PowerShell 2.0 is installed, this will automatically start and run the script with it regardless of where the script is executed. (Note: if Windows PowerShell 2.0 is not installed, this line is ignored and the script is executed with whatever version of Windows PowerShell is installed.)
Hosting Windows PowerShell 2.0 in a .NET 2.0/3.5 Application
If you’ve developed an application with .NET 2.0/3.5 (aka CLR2), and you’re hosting a PowerShell assembly like
System.Management.Automation.dll, then you’re using the Windows PowerShell 2.0 version of those assemblies. If this is the case, you should work to migrate your application to .NET 4.6+ (aka CLR4) using reference assmeblies from Windows PowerShell 3.0 or later. That way, you’ll be using the latest version of the Windows PowerShell assemblies available on the box. (Note: this may require that your Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 users install .NET 4.6+ and/or WMF 3.0 or higher.)
Installation Checks for Windows PowerShell 2.0
You may also have a legacy application that checks for the existence of Windows PowerShell on the box via the registry, particularly for the existence of
HKLM:SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsPowerShell1PowerShellEngine. As long as your application only targets supported versions of Windows and Windows Server (7/8.1/10 and Server 2008R2/2012/2012R2/2016), you can remove this validation altogether.
If not, you should instead check for the existence of the file
%systemroot%system32WindowsPowerShellv1.0powershell.exe. If your installer absolutely requires a registry-based validations, you should first check for
HKLM:SoftwareMicrosoftWindowsPowerShell3PowerShellEngine (note the
3) before falling back to
Using a Microsoft Application Leveraging Windows PowerShell 2.0
There are a number of first-party Microsoft applications that continue to use Windows PowerShell 2.0 under the hood, including some System Center applications, some versions of SQL Server, some versions of Exchange, and others. We will be working with these teams over the coming months to migrate them off of Windows PowerShell 2.0. In the meantime, Windows PowerShell 2.0 will remain a part of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, and we have no plans to remove it until those dependencies are mitigated.
In summary, the deprecation of Windows PowerShell 2.0 doesn’t mean that it’s being removed yet, but you should work to move off of it, as we may decide to remove it in a future release. When we do have more concrete plans to remove it, we’ll give fair warning before taking it out. In the meantime, do your best to migrate away from it, using the above as a guide.
Program Manager, PowerShell
Author: Ashley Speagle
Ashley is a content marketing specialist for VMware.
What will Pat announce next on stage at VMworld? What’s in store for Sumit and Shawn’s new end-user-computing (EUC) Showcase Keynote? (Hint: This demo-packed keynote deserves a space on your schedule.)
Before we get into the major news, here’s what you, our Vegas-bound mobility pros, need to know before you go.
1. First things first. Pick up your badge.
Bring your photo ID to pick up your conference badge at the VMworld registration desk, on Level 1 of the South Convention Center, during these hours:
- Sunday, 7 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
- Monday, 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
- Tuesday, 7 a.m.–6 p.m.
- Wednesday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.
- Thursday, 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
You can also visit self-serve kiosks in Bayside C, Level 1, and we’re also offering Express Check-In QR codes to move things along. Just check the VMworld mobile app for yours! (Download the VMworld 2017 U.S. app here.)
2. First time? Start here.
There’s a lot going on at VMworld. So Sunday at 4 p.m., we’re offering an hour-long info session just for first-time attendees at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Add the New V Welcome Session to your schedule via the Content Catalog.
3. Trust us, everyone will be talking about these EUC sessions.
These are the biggies—add to your schedule accordingly:
Be one of the first 500 attendees at our keynote to receive a free anniversary boxed edition of VMware Fusion and to be entered into a raffle to win a Samsung Chromebook. Last, but not least, score your special EUC button at these spotlight sessions!
4. We’re throwing these events just for you!
Outside of the Customer Appreciation Party, we’re hosting more intimate events just for EUC-minded attendees. Tuesday, following the VMworld Hall Crawl, we’re throwing a huge EUC Networking Reception, sponsored by Google, 6–9 p.m. at the Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay.
5. Want to make waves in your industry? Sign up here.
VMworld 2017 offers four half-day industry workshops on Sunday, several industry-focused breakout sessions and an entire demo showcase of industry solutions.
6. Meet us at the Digital Workspace Lounge.
We’re offering a dedicated lounge area, theater and meeting space directly behind the registration area (in the VMvillage) where you can expand on what you’ve learned so far. Ask questions in group discussions, and meet with our EUC experts to learn more about the digital workspace.
7. Discover new solutions at the Mobility Zone.
This dedicated space in the Solutions Exchange features solutions that integrate with and complement your EUC investments, from rugged device partners to members of the VMware Mobile Security Alliance. Click here for a snapshot of who will be there and booth numbers.
“And if you’re on the ground in Vegas, be sure to stop by the Mobility Zone, which is an amazing new experience at VMworld—one you won’t want to miss. We’ve packed more than ever into this year’s event.”
—VMware EUC VP of Product Marketing Dave Grant
The entire Solutions Exchange includes more than 220 companies, including EUC partners like Dell, Google, Intel and more.
8. Learn for free at Hands-on Labs.
Choose your own adventure: self-paced labs or expert-led workshops in the South Pacific Ballroom. You can take self-paced labs anytime and as many times as you like—each is 15–60 minutes. At expert-led workshops, on the other hand, you can receive additional instruction and group interaction.
You don’t need to schedule EUC self-paced labs ahead of time—these are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Expert-led workshops do require advanced sign-up, and you need to show up early—at least 5 minutes.
“When it comes to education, one place I always tell folks to check out is our Hands-On Labs, where attendees unleash their inner mad scientist. Here you can roll up your sleeves and see for yourself the latest and greatest from VMware.”
—VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger
When you take a certification exam on site, you get 50% off the price, and on-demand courses for AirWatch and Horizon are 25% off. Plus, VMworld offers unique, two-day training led by instructors Aug. 25–26, including an accelerated AirWatch bootcamp and a Horizon 7 seminar. Click here for the special offers!
10. Grow at Partner Exchange @ VMworld 2017 U.S.
Sunday is entirely devoted to VMware partners, and we highly recommend this Business Growth Keynote from Sumit and Business Futurist Greg Verdino on embracing digital transformation. Plus, attend for a chance to win a Samsung Chromebook Elite!
This is your last chance to register before rates increase again! Keep in mind that VMworld is expected to be the biggest EUC event of the year, as Dave Grant told VMware Radius:
“There are multiple vendor conferences throughout the year, but they all focus on individual vendor stacks, creating cumbersome silos of solutions for IT professionals to manage. VMworld U.S. and Europe will be the only industry events this year that focus on end-user computing in the enterprise, helping to eliminate silos to transform the management and end-user experience.”
Here’s more to plan your trip to VMworld 2017 U.S.:
The increasing advances in technology have allowed remote and flexible working to be more available in businesses than ever before. Indeed, graduates entering into the world of work have heightened expectations when it comes to working lifestyles, and rightly so.
Their experience with more advanced technology throughout their time in education has created a demand for various tools and technologies they need to do their jobs in the most flexible way.
With one in ten millennials viewing flexible working as the most important factor in choosing a new job, we want to find out how these demands compare against more traditional benefits and whether companies are achieving the standards that are needed to attract a new breed of workers?
- What are the most important benefits to your working life when looking to apply to a new company?
- What are your biggest frustrations at work?
- Would you leave your current employer to go to another company if they offered better technology for mobile working?
Seven things, including Self-Service Automation, that IT teams must do to retain relevance with end users.
I was talking with an industry analyst (think Gartner, Forrester, IDC) the other day around a broad range of trends impacting IT. Somehow we got onto a discussion around the issue of IT teams losing relevance with their line of business customers. I can’t recall the conversation exactly but it went something like this. “David, I talk with different IT teams every week and many of them ask me the same question: “What can we as IT do to be more relevant to our end users [line of business]?”.
Jim (not his real name) told me that the first question he asks these teams in response is “Are you offering your customers self-service?”. This analyst told me that the answer he hears back most often is “no, we haven’t gotten to that yet”. Jim then goes on to advise these teams to A) leverage an automated approach to service delivery to speed up resource delivery (if they are not already doing so); and B) be sure to also implement self-service that makes it drop dead easy for end users to get the services they want.
If you think about it, not implementing self-service is denying the reality that line of business partners have choices beyond enterprise IT. It also fails to recognize that increasingly our expectations of how things should work, at work, are shaped by our personal and consumer experiences. Self-service and the near instant gratification that comes from it just makes more sense today than submitting tickets and waiting weeks for resources to be available for your next critical project.
My Top “X” List For IT
This exchange got me thinking about the big-ticket items that most IT teams must tackle to be more relevant to their end users. If the # 1 thing that IT teams must do to retain or regain relevance is embrace self-service; what does a top ten list look like? Sorry to disappoint but I don’t have a top ten list. There are however some things that I feel do stand apart from the rest of the pack when it comes to looking at how IT operates. So, in that spirit here is my list of the top seven things IT must do to remain relevant.
1. Implement Self Service for Resource Requests
2. Market IT Services to your End Users
3. Enable Infrastructure as Code
4. Become an IT Developer
5. Begin to Think about Multi-Cloud Networking
6. Go Beyond Infrastructure and Deliver Complete Stacks
7. Help App Dev Teams Move Containers to Production
There are undoubtedly other things that IT teams can do that would increase their relevance to line-of-business (LOB) partners. Having said that, I do think this is a pretty good list to start with. There’s too much here to cover in a single blog so I’ll elaborate on each of these in this blog and several others that will follow. Hopefully, along the way I will provide you enough insight on each to give you a good idea of what it is that IT must do along with some additional thoughts on how to get it done.
Starting with Self Service
According to Wikipedia and depending on how you look at it, Amazon Web Services has been around since 2002 or 2006. Early adopters flocked to it because of two reasons in my opinion. The first reason was an ability to get infrastructure fast. The second reason was the ability to get these resources without having to file one or more tickets with the help desk.
Today, implementing the ability to get end users resources fast is simply a matter of automation. Many organizations have adopted automation to dramatically speed up the provisioning of infrastructure resources. Application level resources is a different matter but we’ll cover that elsewhere.
I have first-hand experience talking with many IT teams who used to take 4 or more weeks to provision resources in the past but now routinely do it in under in under thirty minutes. Of course, with Amazon you can get those resources in just a few minutes, so taking 30 minutes or so is still longer than what it would take using AWS. But let’s be honest – how many developers find out about a project and then need to be coding it 5 minutes later? Thirty minutes is plenty fast for most needs.
While many organizations have, or are in the process of adopting automation to speed up service delivery, not nearly as many have implemented self-service as part of that process. Many still rely on existing request fulfilment processes that existed before automation was implemented. The most common example of this is organizations using Service Now for requesting resources, which in turn generates a ticket to the platform automation team which then initiates an automated process to fulfill the request.
Leveraging an existing ticketing process isn’t necessarily a bad approach and there are some good reasons for doing it. The main reason that I am aware of is that this approach means that any existing process for determining who has access to specific resources doesn’t need to be re-codified into the automation that supports self-service.
That’s not a bad reason to keep the existing process, but remember that if you are an internal IT team, your competing with the public cloud and on the public cloud – self-service means self-service. No tickets and no help desk. So, going the extra mile to enable true self service where entitlements and other forms of governance are matched between users and resources might be worth it for your IT team given the world we live and compete in.
Now a few caveats around the idea of self-service. Different end users have different needs. Many end users are perfectly happy selecting resources from a pre-populated catalog. VMware vRealize Automation is a great example of an automation platform that supports this model of self-service.
In this model, blueprints can be created to represent everything from a single machine to a complex, multi-tier application, with storage, networking, security and even monitoring agents all represented in the blueprint. These blueprints then become catalog items that once selected by end user are instantiated in near real time.
Other users might prefer a self-service model that is closer to what they would experience on Amazon. This model is declarative in nature and resources are requested either through a CLI or through an API (using scripts or through another tool) in the form of small building blocks that represent infrastructure elements such as compute, storage, or network. For IT teams looking for such a model to satisfy their end users, VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) might be the best choice for a service delivery automation platform.
A hybrid model might be the best choice for others. In this model vRealize Automation is used to offer VM level resources from a catalog but it is also used to reserve resources for a VIO based developer cloud that an App Dev team would like to implement. In this model vRealize Automation would also be used to provision the components necessary to instantiate a VIO based Developer Cloud for that same App Dev team.
Just for completeness, I should point out that vRealize Automation can also support the idea of blueprints as code, where blueprints are created or modified using YAML. These blueprints can then be imported into vRealize Automation and offered to end users through the catalog. These same blueprints can of course be exported as YAML as well.
The Right Self-Service Model for Your End Users
Hopefully you can see that solutions to the self-service problem exist along a continuum. Figuring out what type of self-service model to implement is very much a function of understanding your users. There are different approaches and you won’t be sure which approach makes the most sense unless you are actively engaged in understanding the needs of your users.
Having a deep understanding of what your end users need is also the prerequisite for our next “must do item” which is effectively marketing what you do offer to your end users. More to come on that in the next installment of this series.
Spotlight session MGT3136SU at VMworld 2017 Las Vegas:
How DevOps Is Transforming IT: People, Process, Technology
In this spotlight session, Ajay Singh, VMware Cloud Management General Manager and SVP, will interview a group of our top customers about how IT can support DevOps.
As companies are continuing innovation on the path to digital transformation, they need new tools, skill sets, and organizational structures to support the new DevOps paradigms. Hear from the CIOs of some of our major customers about the challenges they have met and the solutions they have put in place, and our own VP of Engineering – the internal VMware DevOps “customer 0”.
Julie Ray, SVP, ECIO, Fannie Mae
David Coker, Senior VP, Information Systems, Polaris Alpha
Sandhya Sridharan, Vice President Engineering, VMware
Drinking our own Champagne
Learn about VMware usage of our own tools for DevOps to drive efficiencies into the VMware organization while improving products we are building for customers. We will talk about the project Cava and how we do DevOps using our own vRealize solutions at the Cloud Management Business Unit of VMware. We will show a demo of a self-service portal for provisioning the infrastructure and applications used by 450+ software developers and release engineers on a daily basis. See how we drink our own champagne!
How to Register
Microservice architectures improve the ability of IT organizations to more rapidly deliver business critical services to their customers, but this improved agility often comes at the cost of added complexity. This complexity is manifested by the increasing scale-out and ephemeral nature of this application architecture pattern. The transformation from monolithic applications to microservices means that in many cases, the complexity which resided on the “inside” of the application shifts towards the “outside” of the microservice as IT organizations now need to account for additional infrastructure components needed to support the microservice plus there are the additional communications pathways that will occur within the microservice ecosystem. In terms of the microservice lifecycle, data collected by companies such as New Relic confirms the trend towards increasingly short-lived microservices (with many running for less than one minute).
What is often lost in the discussion of microservices is the need to re-examine how an IT organization will be able to manage this new environment for the issues just raised can often “break” existing tooling. Let’s just look at one outcome – the missing or invisible container. Tools which perform coarse-grained data collection may not be able to observe a microservice for its entire lifecycle could occur in-between data collection operations. That’s why IT organizations may need to reconsider their existing monitoring tool portfolio to ensure that they have the necessary degree of fine-grained observability required for an increasingly dynamic environment. Returning to the “inner” versus “outer” architecture ramifications, IT organizations will also need tools that can not only store large amount of information, but also enable the rapid identification of patterns of microservice behavior that may not be obvious to the human operator.
VMware understands these issues and thus this was the impetus for our investment in Wavefront. We’ll continue to focus on transforming the manageability of an increasingly complex environment so that IT organizations can focus their energies on transforming their business.
One of the most effective methods you can use to protect kids online is to talk to them. The younger you start talking to them, and they to you, the better. Hold regular conversations about online safety issues, even going so far as to show them actual negative events that have taken place. If you don’t know what your kids are doing, simply ask. Play the clueless parent and ask them to show you what the latest technologies are and how they use them. Quite often, kids love the idea of being the teacher and will open up.