Top tools and techniques for VMware automation
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Manually handling your environment makes a busy administrator prone to mistakes, so why make more work for yourself when automation can lighten the load? Administrators who want to speed up workflow processing in increasingly complex virtual environments are finding their needs met through VMware PowerCLI.
What is VMware PowerCLI?
VMware PowerCLI is a free automation tool based on Microsoft Windows PowerShell that administrators can use to build powerful scripts to automate most tasks in vSphere. PowerCLI features more than 250 cmdlets, which can handle numerous duties, such as building a new ESXi host and taking snapshots of VMs.
How can I implement PowerCLI?
While PowerCLI has been around for several years, it's still something of a novelty for some vSphere administrators. After building up a sizable library of scripts, how can you execute them in the timeliest fashion? One way is to integrate scripted workflows into other VMware products, such as vCenter Orchestrator (vCO). Our two-part tutorial can show you how to streamline your administrative approach with a vCO and PowerCLI combination.
What are some of the new features in the latest version of PowerCLI?
VMware continues to enhance and develop PowerCLI to tap into new features in its current line of products. In vSphere 5.1, tagging was introduced and allowed administrators to put a tag on a number of inventory objects, which made it easier to perform an action simultaneously on a number of objects. PowerCLI 5.5 can access these tags to execute certain tasks, and also contains new cmdlets focused on tags.
VMware PowerCLI 5.5 also automates the administration of virtual distributed switches, assignment of license keys and features a more intuitive way to open a console window.
How do I use PowerCLI if I'm not a coder?
VMware releases Flings that are free, unsupported tools that accomplish certain tasks. One particular Fling is called Project Onyx, which records the interaction between the vSphere client and converts it into PowerShell code. It's a handy way to build and to learn how to script tasks that handle all parts of your infrastructure. The one caveat is that for the time being, the Fling only works with the Windows client, not the Web client.
Can I share access to my PowerCLI scripts?
For administrators who want to restrict access to the vSphere Client but want to present some of its functionality to certain users, VMware has another Fling, called WebCommander, for this purpose. As its name implies, WebCommander features a web-based front end with icons that are attached to PowerCLI scripts. Users who have clearance to run certain tasks, such as deploying a VM or listing the VM hosts, can access the portal from the URL supplied by the administrator.