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Using VSphere Client for free virtual infrastructure management

The vSphere Client is an essential management tool for building an ESXi infrastructure at no cost. Here’s how to navigate the vSphere Client.

This series explains how to build a free VMware virtualization environment. Part one discusses the VMware vSphere Hypervisor and vSphere Client installation process. This installment covers how to manage a virtual infrastructure with the vSphere Client.

There are different ways to manage an ESXi infrastructure. If you want to manage several hosts from one, convenient interface, you need VMware vCenter. But this management platform costs money, and the purpose of this series is to build a free virtualization infrastructure.

That leaves us with the vSphere Client, which offers many features in vCenter. The vSphere Client is designed to give you easy access to different management actions, and this article explains the most useful options.

Starting up the vSphere Client
After starting the vSphere Client, you’ll see a graphical overview of your infrastructure on the left, and the related management options in the tabs on the right. Notice that the options on the right are context sensitive, so you'll see other options after selecting a host or virtual machine (VM). The vSphere Client is designed for convenient access to the relevant management options, and in most cases, several options can bring you to other management programs.

Figure 1
The vSphere Client provides easy management access to your environment. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

A good starting point is the Summary tab, which provides an overview of the host and VMs, including hardware and usage information. The latter selection shows the current CPU and memory usage of the virtual machines.

In the host’s Summary tab, the lower-left part of the window provides access to the most useful management tasks. From this interface, you can create a new VM or reboot the host. You shouldn't perform those actions too often, however. You should shut down your host only after putting it in maintenance mode by selecting Enter Maintenance Mode. Normally, you won’t have to reboot the host often.

Figure 2
The Summary tab displays the most useful information about the host. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

The Configuration tab on the host is also very useful. It displays the current state of the host, including if the fans on the system board are functioning properly.

Figure 3
On the Configuration tab of the host, you monitor the current state of the hardware in an easy way. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

The Summary and Configuration tabs for the host provides generic information about the environment, but the most useful VM management options are available in the Summary tab for individual VMs. You can easily change settings, reboot, suspend or power off a VM. You can also access the console to work on the VM.

The other tabs available through the VM Summary tab provide access to advanced management tasks, such as resource allocation and performance monitoring.

The Events tab is also useful. As you’d expect, it displays an overview of all the events that have recently occurred. Check this tab on a regular basis, because it shows information about all types of events, including some incidents that might cause problems at a later stage.

Access to the Console is probably the most important option on the VM tabs. This tab allows you to work directly on the virtual machine without needing to install remote management software.

Figure 4
Use the Console tab for direct access to the virtual machine's console. (Click image for an enlarged view.)

In the next article of this series, we'll set up the storage for an ESXi environment.

About the expert
Sander van Vugt is an independent trainer and consultant based in the Netherlands. Van Vugt is an expert in Linux high availability, virtualization and performance and has completed several projects that implement all three. He is also the writer of various Linux-related books, such as Beginning the Linux Command Line, Beginning Ubuntu Server Administration and Pro Ubuntu Server Administration.

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