I have mentioned Runecast a fair amount on my blog, dating back to 2017, but somehow I forgot to blog our episode with Stan on the topic of Runecast on the Unexplored Territory Podcast. I just noticed it, so I figured I would share the episode with you folks. I have been a fan of their solution from day 1, and I would encourage people to look and what they have to offer, and of course listen to the episode. Listen via Spotify (bit.ly/3Nr16nz), Apple (bit.ly/43AlZlB) or the embedded player below!
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This week I had a brief conversation with the folks from Runecast. I have been following them since day 1 and they have made a big impression on me from the start. During the conversation the Runecast folks shared with me that Runecast Analyzer 3.0 was going to be announced today and they gave a quick overview and demo of what would be announced and included in 3.0. They also quickly went over the functionality that was added the past year, some things which really were well adopted by customers were HIPAA and DISA-STIG compliance feature. Also Horizon support and security auto-remediation capabilities. Another thing that customers really appreciated were the upgradability simulations (beta feature), where Runecast validates your environment against the HCL.
Stan (Runecast CEO) also mentioned that this year Runecast signed up a customer with over 10k hosts, as you can imagine a lot of the work in the past 12 months was focused on scalability and performance at that level of scale. But that is not what today’s announcement is about, today Runecast is announcing 3.0. In 3.0 there are some great enhancements to the platform again. First of all, production-ready HCL Analysis for vSphere and vSAN. On top of that, the ESXi Upgrade Simulation is now GA, and the log analysis has been improved. Runecast is also introducing a new H5 Client plugin-in with new widgets and a dark theme! Just look at it below, you have got to love the dark theme!
But as I mentioned, there’s more to it than just the H5 Client Plugin, the HCL Analysis and the Upgrade Simulation are two key features if you ask me. During the demo, Stan showed me the below screen, and I think that by itself makes it worth testing out Runecast. It simply shows you in one overview if your environment is compliant to the HCL or not, and if it is not compliant, which combination of firmware and driver you should be using to make it compliant. In this example, the driver should be upgraded to 2.0.42. A very useful feature if you ask me. Note that this will work for both vSphere and vSAN and all components needed to run either of these.
Just as useful is the Upgrade Simulation by the way, are you considering upgrading? Make sure to run this first so you know if you will end up in a supported state or not?! And some of you may say that VMware has similar capabilities in their product, but the Runecast appliance doesn’t need to be connected to the internet at all times. You can regularly update the dataset and run these compliancy and upgrade checks (or any of the other checks) regularly offline. Especially for customers where internet access is challenging (dark sites) this is very helpful.
All in all, some very useful updates to an already very useful solution.
Last week I was briefed by Runecast (together with Cormac) on the new version, Runecast 2.0, which was released/announced today. I always enjoy talking to Stan as every time we talk they have something new which surprises me, or he tells me about something cool on the roadmap. For those who did not read my previous articles, Runecast is a company which focusses on analyzing VMware environments and assess the environment on potential issues. These issues could be anything ranging from configuration issues, driver/firmware issue, to security issues. It reminds me very much of what we have with vSAN which is the health check. The big difference though is that this solution includes many more checks and doesn’t just focus on vSAN but on many different parts of the stack. Just to give you an idea, today Runecast can analyze your vSphere environment up to vSphere 6.7 and can also analyze vSAN and NSX-V. The cool thing is that it also does this “offline”, they have an appliance and regular updates (rules and features) and this means that even in a dark site this would work.
A lot of Runecast’s customers are either in the financial space or government space. I guess this is also why their focus for the 2.0 version was primarily on PCI-DSS. With over 200 technical checks, which map against PCI-DSS requirements, they (as Runecast told me) have by far the largest collection of requirements in an automated analyzer (for VMware) in the industry. Definitely, a smart enhancement, if you are not interested in PCI-DSS, you can simply disable the whole check and it will never show up in your interface. You can also, if only a limited number of clusters should be validated, filter out certain results.
The 20 version of Runecast also comes with a lot of updates around the appliance, now I consider these “internals” as for most customers it is not relevant in terms of the value it offers, but it is important to know from a security perspective I guess.
This version also introduces a historical perspective. Meaning that starting with Runecast 2.0 the historical information of checks is stored. This will allow you to see some form of trending when it comes to the different checks/validations. You could for instance now track if you do updates and maintenance if the number of potential issues is going down. You could also task someone with validating the reported issues and fixing those when or where possible. This should over time improve the availability, reliability, and security of your environment.
Last but not least the UI has been fully overhauled. They redesigned it just to make it easier to read and understand. Also, a couple of dashboards were added, which makes sense… a new release means new dashboards!
If you happen to go to VMworld, make sure to stop by their booth and have a look, I think you will find it interesting. Or simply read the Runecast blog, and download the appliance and try it out.
A while ago I introduced Runecast on my blog. I have known these guys for a while and this week I had to pleasure to be briefed on their new release: Runecast 1.7. The big ticket item in this release for sure it the vSAN Support. You may ask yourself why you would need Runecast when you have things like the health check and the “online” health check, well it seems that Runecast’s implementation covers more detail. Anyway, what is Runecast? As a company they refer to themselves as the knowledge automation experts, and I think that is a fair statement.
Runecast has developed an appliance which can be connected to one or multiple vCenter Server instances. After linking these you can “scan” the environment and Runecast will tell you about the risks. Not just from a security perspective, but it will also assess logs, configuration and even best practices. Your whole environment will be assessed in a report will be provided in a simple HTML-5 interface, or in the Web Client or the vSphere H5 client even. I said “simple”, but the information provided and the detail is far from simple… When I say simple I refer to their user interface. It is slick, and very easy to use.
Since I discussed Runecast last they added some additional features, like for instance a VRO plugin, full rest API, improved log search, Web Client and H5 client plugins but more importantly for many government agencies: DISA STIG compliancy checks. Yes, Runecast can check your environment against DISA STIG and report on any potential issues. Nice right?
This new release, version 1.7, now brings vSAN support. It also includes a new dashboard widget, which provides faster insights in how your environment is behaving. For vSAN in particular they didn’t only include KB article checks, but also implemented all best practices from the Design and Sizing guide, Network Design guide and the Stretched Cluster white paper. And they even hinted about adding best practices which are listed in the Essential vSAN book Cormac and I wrote, how cool is that? What is also nice is that their appliance is supported with vSAN 5.x and 6.x, and requires no direct access to the internet. You can simply download the appliance and install, and then update with the latest dataset by downloading an ISO.
Oh and before I forget, of course they also provide all the guidance and info needed around Spectre/Meltdown. Where normally their trial is limited, they actually do provide ALL info needed for Spectre/Meltdown as they realized that this is very valuable to customers and felt they could not hold this back.
For the Runecast blog on the 1.7 release go here.
I met with Runecast a couple of years ago at VMworld. Actually, I am not sure they already had a name back then, I should probably say I met with the guys who ended up founding Runecast at VMworld. One of them, Stan, is a VCDX and back then he pitched this idea to me around an appliance that would analyze your environment based on a set of KBs. His idea was primarily based on his experience managing and building datacenters. (Not just Stan’s experience, but most of the team are actually former IBM employees) Interesting concept, kind of sounded similar to CloudPhysics to me, although the focus was more on correlation of KB then capacity management etc.
Fast forward to 2017 and I just finished a call with the Runecast team. I had a short conversation at VMworld 2016 and was under the impression that they sold the company or quit. None of this is true. Runecast managed to get a 1.6m euro funding (Czech Republic) and is going full steam ahead. With around 10 people, most being in Czech Republic they are ready to release the next version of Runecast Analyzer, which will be 1.5. So what does this provide?
Well just imagine you manage a bunch of hosts and vCenter (not unlikely when you visit my blog), maybe some shared storage along with it. There are many KB articles, frequent updates of these and many newly published KBs every week. Then there’s also a whole bunch of best practices and of course the vSphere Hardening Guide. As an administrator do you have time to read everything that is published every day? And then when you have read it, do you have time to check your environment if the issue or best practice described applies to your infrastructure? Of course you don’t, and this is where Runecast Analyzer comes in to play.
You download the appliance and provision it in to your environment, next you simply hook vCenter Server in to it and off you go. (As of 1.5 it also supports connecting several vCenter Server instances by the way.) Click analyze now and check the issues called out in the HTML-5 dashboard. As the screenshot below shows, this particular environment has issues identified in the log file that are described in a KB article. There are various other KB articles that may apply, just as an example: a combination of a certain virtual NIC with a specific OS may not be recommended. Also, various potential security issues and best practices are raised if they exist/apply.
When you would click one of these areas you can drill down in to what the issue is and potentially figure out how to mitigate it. In the screenshot below you see the list of KBs that apply to this particular environment, you can open the particular entry (second screenshot below) and then find out to what it applies (objects: VMs, hosts, vCenter etc). If you feel it doesn’t apply to you, or you accept the risk, you can of course “ignore” the issue. When you click ignore a filter will be created which rules out this issue from being called out through the dashboard. The filtering mechanism is pretty smart, and you can easily create your own filters on any level of the virtual infra hierarchy. Yes, it is also possible to delete the filter(s) again when you feel it does apply to your environment.
Besides checking the environment, as mentioned, Runecast can also analyze the logs for you. And I was happy to see that this got added, as it makes it unique compared to other solutions out there. Depending on what you are looking for you have these quick filtering options, and of course there are search strings and you can select a time period in which you would like to search of this particular string
As I said, all of this comes as a virtual appliance, which does not require direct connection to the internet. However, in order to keep the solution relevant you will need to update regularly, they mentioned they release a new data set once every two weeks roughly. It can be updated over the internet (through a proxy if needed), or you can download the ISO and update Runecast Analyzer through that, which could be very useful in secure locations. The appliance works against vSphere 5.x and 6.x (yes including 6.5) and there is a 30 day free trial. (Annual subscription, per socket pricing.) If you like to give it a try, click the banner on the right side, or go to their website: https://www.runecast.biz/. Pretty neat solution, and looking forward seeing what these guys can achieve with the funding they just received.