Plug-ins can be a real boost to your VMware architecture. Introduced with VMware ESX Server 3.5 and VMware Infrastructure...
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Client (VI Client) 2.5, they can expand the range of functionality in your virtual environment. In this article, I'll discuss plug-in options and plug-in management. If you aren't already using plug-ins, you soon will be.
What is a VMware Plug-in?
A VMware plug-in is an addition to the VMware software that interacts with VirtualCenter to provide enhanced features. As plug-ins are independent of the base software, they can be upgraded independently and they can be installed from anywhere on the VI3 network. They consist of two major parts: the server component and the client component, with the server component being installed prior to using the client component. For a lengthier description, see the VMware Infrastructure Online Library – ESX Server 3 Edition.
Plug-ins provide a lot of power to VMware Administrators by expanding the functionality of VirtualCenter and the VI Client. Plug-ins can:
- Provide a GUI interface to something that doesn't have one - as with the SVMotion plug-in
- Allow you to perform a task that you otherwise couldn't perform - as with the Update Manager plug-in
- Open up functionality
Plug-ins either come from VMware directly or may be released from 3rd party plug-in vendors. Developers can create their own plug-ins if they are willing to write code. Examples of VMware plug-ins are the VMware Update Manager and VMware Converter Enterprise.
Which Plug-ins are available for download?
In my recent SearchVMware.com article VMware Infrastructure Client 2.5 harnesses third-party plug-in power, I demonstrated the VMware Update Manager and VMware Converter Enterprise plug-ins.
Two Storage VMotion plug-in options are covered in Add a GUI to Storage VMotion; watch for disk defragmentation, complete with a screenshot of what one of the Storage VMotion plug-ins looks like in action. I also wrote detailed step-by-step instructions on how to use Andrew Kutz's Storage VMotion plug-in. You can download his Storage VMotion plug-in from SourceForge.net.
The RDP plug-in, by Juxtaposition, allows for remote desktop protocol (RDP) access to virtual machines from the VI Client right-click menus.
The VI Client Console plug-in integrates an SSH console directly into the client.
The Invoke plug-in makes it possible to integrate third-party applications with the client while persisting login information.
Installing the Juxtaposition RDP plug-in
While currently a little rough on the installation and documentation, the Juxtaposition RDP plug-in offers the easiest and quickest way to RDP to a virtual machine in your VMware Virtual Infrastructure.
To install it, I downloaded the ZIP file, unzipped it, and put the extracted files inside C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\Virtual Infrastructure Client\Plug-ins. From there, I started my VI Client and went up to the Plug-ins drop-down menu and clicked on Manage Plug-ins.
From there, I enabled the RDP plug-in, and clicked OK. At that point, I could go to any of my virtual guest machines that have RDP remote management enabled on them, right-click and click Open RDP Session.
What that does is open a Microsoft Remote Desktop connection to that virtual guest machine, like this:
The Console VI 2.5 plug-in
Andrew Kutz's Console plug-in has a very nice MSI installation that you are used to with most new applications.
After the installation, you need to start your VI Client and, as with the RDP Plug-in, enable the Console Plug-in.
At this point, if you click on any physical ESX Server in your VI Client, you will see a new tab named Console. If you click on that tab, you can enter your username and password and click connect. What this will do is to create a SSH terminal connection from your PC to that ESX Server, directly from the VI Client interface. Here is what it looks like:
Creating your own VI plug-ins
While creating plug-ins for the VI Client requires some programming knowledge, it is much easier thanks to SVMotion plug-in developer Andrew Kutz. He also created the VMware Infrastructure 3.5 Plugin and Extension Programming Guide - Revision 1.3.
In this article you learned what plug-ins are, how plug-ins can help you, and what plug-ins are available. If you aren't already using plug-ins, starting now could make managing your VMware environment much easier.
There are more plug-ins released all the time. Do you know of any new VI Client plug-ins? Let us know: Editor@SearchVMware.com .
Additional ToolFor VMware ESX and Virtual Infrastructure Client
There are many other programming tools available for programming and interfacing with VMware ESX & the VI Client. They include:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Davis (CCIE #9369, VCP, CWNA, MCSE, CISSP, Linux+, CEH) is the Director of Infrastructure at Train Signal, Inc. He has written hundreds of articles and six video training courses – including the Train Signal VMware ESX Server video training series. His websites are Happy Router.com and VMwareVideos.com.