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VMware and PowerShell: Managing ESX Server from the Command Line

VMware and PowerShell:

Managing ESX Server from the Command Line

By Jeff James


Now that virtualization has become an integral part of the IT infrastructure of so many companies, virtualization software management vendors are seeing a burgeoning market ripe with opportunity. I’ve written about managing virtual sprawl in a past issue of Virtualization UPDATE, and sprawl-inducing pressures still exist in the market: It’s as easy as pie to start, copy, and deploy virtual machines (VMs), which makes it a snap to deploy hundreds of the little buggers very quickly. Managing the resultant crowd of VMs is a different story.

      Microsoft thinks it has a winning VM management solution with its upcoming Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008, a product that will manage not only Hyper-V VMs, but also those from Xen and VMware. (Download the VMM 2008 beta here.) VMM is built on top of Windows PowerShell, the flexible command-line scripting platform that Microsoft is incorporating into many of its new products. PowerShell has generated considerable excitement among scripting-savvy IT pros and developers, and will likely contribute to making VMM 2008 a powerful VM management tool.

      Given the capabilities and popularity of PowerShell, it’s no surprise that third-party vendors are supporting it in their own products. VMware has done just that with its VMware Infrastructure Toolkit (for Windows), which is currently in beta. (You can download the VI Toolkit beta here.)

      VI Toolkit lets you use PowerShell to manage several VMware products, including VMware ESX Server and VMware Infrastructure 3. More than a hundred PowerShell cmdlets are currently available, and VMware's VI PowerShell team hopes to add even more. Existing cmdlets let you monitor and report on your virtual infrastructure, clone templates, take snapshots of VMs, and even migrate VMs between hosts. VMware’s Carter Shanklin has blogged—and produced a screencast—about using the VI Toolkit with the PowerShell 2.0 CTP to manage VMware’s VMotion product. Carter used some VMware PowerShell community extensions in his demonstration, which you can see in video form here.

      To make using the VI Toolkit even easier, Quest Software has released a VMware power pack for its popular PowerGUI application (which won the Windows IT Pro Breakthrough Product award at TechEd IT Professionals 2008 earlier this month). The power pack lets IT pros use PowerGUI in conjunction with VI Toolkit to manage VMware VMs, data centers, hosts, server connections, and other aspects of a virtualized environment. You can download the PowerGUI power pack for VI Toolkit here.

      Although keeping tabs on your virtual environment and taming the VM management beast might take some effort, creative developers are providing tools that transform that often onerous task into something more manageable. And unlike some other VM management tools on the market, VI Toolkit and PowerGUI are free. These tools might not offer the pretty management consoles and report functions that more expensive solutions do, but PowerShell aficionados will find a lot to like with this low-cost, high-performance alternative.


Editor’s Note: For more information about using PowerShell and PowerGUI with ESX Server, see the Tips & Tricks section below.




Virtualization News

By Jeff James


Seanodes Unveils Exanodes Virtual Machine Edition

Server storage virtualization vendor Seanodes has announced Exanodes Virtual Machine Edition, a new product that lets IT pros consolidate OS and application storage on a virtual SAN. According to a Seanodes news release, Exanodes VM Edition integrates with existing server virtualization solutions and can leverage virtualization technology to convert DAS into NAS. Exanodes VM Edition starts at $500 per terabyte and is available now. For more information about Seanodes, go to


Veeam Software Acquires nworks

Mergers and acquisitions are a constant in the growing market for virtualization products, a lesson not lost on Veeam Software. Veeam recently announced that it has acquired nworks, a developer of enterprise software management connectors for HP OpenView and Microsoft System Center Operations Manager. Managing VMs has become a pressing concern for IT pros, and Veeam (through the acquisition of nworks and its connector technology) can provide a comprehensive management  solution that helps integrate VMware products with systems management software from HP and Microsoft. "By combining Veeam’s resources with nworks’ proven enterprise management expertise, we are moving the industry closer to eliminating the management separation of the physical and virtual worlds that has been problematic since the inception of virtual infrastructures,” says Ratmir Timashev, Veeam president and CEO. For more information about the acquisition, go to


Open-E Announces VMware Certification

Storage management software provider Open-E has announced that its Data Storage Server (DSS) IP-Storage operating software has been certified to work with VMware ESX Server 3.5. According to an Open-E news release, DSS is an “all-in-one, fourth generation operating system software solution for centralized IP-storage management, combining full NAS and iSCSI SAN functionality.” For more information about DSS and its VMware certification, go to




Virtualization Tips & Tricks:

PowerShell, PowerGUI, and the VMware VI Toolkit

by Jeff James


To get the most out of using PowerShell with your VMware infrastructure, you’ll need to download and install a few things. I’ll assume that you already have a VMware virtualization solution up and running in your IT environment and that you’re running one of the following platforms:


·         Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2, x86)

·         Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1, x86)

·         Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2, x86)

·         Windows Server 2003 R2 (x86)

·         Windows Vista (original release) (x86)


The VMware VI Toolkit supports only these platforms—it doesn't currently support non-Windows environments. Now let’s get started:


1.     Download and install either PowerShell 1.0 \[download\] or the PowerShell 2008 CTP \[download\].

Note: The PowerShell 2008 CTP is needed only if you want to use some of the features introduced in the VMware VI Toolkit community extensions.


2.     Download and install the VMware Infrastructure Toolkit 1.0 Beta (for Windows). \[download\]


3.     Download and install the VMware PowerShell community extensions. \[download\]

Note: There are only three cmdlets in this package, but VMware will likely add more cmdlets to the community extensions in the future. The extensions also require installation of the PowerShell 2008 CTP.  


4.     Download and install Quest Software’s PowerGUI. \[download\]

Note: PowerGUI is not required to use PowerShell with the VMware VI Toolkit, but it does make your PowerShell scripting tasks even easier.


5.     Download and install the PowerGUI power pack for the VI Toolkit. \[download\]

Note: If you want to use PowerGUI with the VI Toolkit, this power pack is a must. With it, you

can easily create bulk scripting operations and jump back and forth between managing VMs and physical hardware.


After you’ve followed these steps, you'll be ready to start using PowerShell to manage your VMware virtual environment.

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