Runecast Analyzer support for VMware HCL Beta

11. April 2019 SDDC, Uncategorized 0
Runecast Analyzer support for VMware HCL Beta

I have been in contact with Runecast since VMworld 2018. They deliver a product called Runecast Analyzer. It basically allows you to stay on top of the overall health of your VMware environment. They – for example – automatically scan the online VMware Knowledge Base using their “Proactive automation engine” to search for any known issues relevant to the VMware products, versions and configurations you have running in your environment. They also provide extensive Log Analysis, Security Hardening and Best Practices. I highly recommend checking out their website if you’re running a VMware environment!

Runecast-Overview

VMware HCL Beta

Runecast is working on a Beta of a new feature that shows the compliance status of your hosts against the VMware HCL. This is often a very tedious job that takes up lots of time for VMware admins, especially in heterogeneous environments when different hardware configurations are used. I installed the new version in my homelab environment. This process is really straightforward because Runecast Analyzer is delivered as a OVA Appliance. I’m not going to spend any time on the installation process. Take a look at the Runecast User Guide if you are running into issues.

First Look at Runecast Analyzer

After connecting Runecast Analyzer to my vCenter Server environment, it immediately started collecting data from the environment. Since I’m running my vSphere environment fully nested on a SuperMicro SYS-5028D-TN4T microtower, I decided to add this standalone physical host to vCenter Server (Inception yo!) so I could see some actual HCL related data. The Nested ESXi VMs are obviously not on the HCL.

Host Data and HCL Data

Runecast Analyzer displays the data collected from the host and the data it matched on the HCL in a clean and simple table. On the host level, I’m seeing all green checkmarks because the SYS-5028D-TN4T is in fact on the HCL … except for the BIOS version. Apparently I’m running AMI version 1.2c which can’t be matched on the HCL:

Runecast-Host-Data

The button “HCL online” in the top-right corner takes us straight to the VMware HCL. Let’s validate the results:

For some reason it looks like it is validating against the wrong version of ESXi? If I manually search the HCL, version 1.2c is fully supported according the HCL for ESXi 6.7. I will have to check with Runecast…

I/O Devices

If we move on to the I/O Devices tab I’m seeing some more red crosses. The NVMe SSD Controller SM961/PM961 (Samsung SSD 960 PRO 1TB is not a surprise. I deliberately choose to add this fast but relatively cheap NVMe SSD to my ESXi server. It obviously is not on the HCL for ESXi 6.7. I’m also seeing some compatibility issues with some of the NICs:

NICs

According to the HCL, these NICs are supported with Driver igbn version 1.4.1 and firmware 1.63.0. It looks like I’m running the correct firmware version, but I’m a behind with the driver. Let’s dive a bit deeper on the ESXi console:

[[email protected]:~] esxcli network nic get -n vmnic0
   Advertised Auto Negotiation: true
   Advertised Link Modes: Auto, 1000BaseT/Full, 100BaseT/Full, 10BaseT/Full
   Auto Negotiation: false
   Cable Type: Twisted Pair
   Current Message Level: 0
   Driver Info:
         Bus Info: 0000:05:00:0
         Driver: igbn
         Firmware Version: 1.63.0:0x800009fa
         Version: 0.1.0.0
   Link Detected: true
   Link Status: Up
   Name: vmnic0
   PHYAddress: 0
   Pause Autonegotiate: false
   Pause RX: false
   Pause TX: false
   Supported Ports: TP
   Supports Auto Negotiation: true
   Supports Pause: false
   Supports Wakeon: true
   Transceiver: internal
   Virtual Address: 00:50:56:51:e2:26
   Wakeon: MagicPacket(tm)

It appears I’m indeed running a much older version of this driver! I will need to get that fixed sometime 🙂

Conclusion

Although we see vendors like Dell-EMC and VMware working hard to make the physical infrastructure as easy to manage as possible with HCI and integrated systems, but there is still a very long way to go before we can stop worrying about physical components, BIOS, firmware and drivers altogether. I think this new feature of Runecast Analyzer is really, really helpful and can be a real timesaver. It can also help you from unknowingly running your hosts in an unsupported configuration…

Take a look at the Trial Download page if you want to participate in the Beta too!


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