Posted by: Rick Vanover
Rick Vanover, VI3, Virtualization, VMware ESX
The VI3 Remote CLI (command line interface) virtual appliance (VA) is provided by VMware to perform Virtual Center tasks that you cannot do in the interface, or for tasks that you want to script for automation. The Remote CLI is based on the VI Perl Toolkit to perform a lot of the tasks in the environment. Be sure to check out some resources by Schley Andrew Kutz on the VI Perl Toolkit. I tend to prefer the VA model for something like the Remote CLI for the following reasons:
·The functionality is centrally accessible and contained to one place (the Remote CLI can be installed in Linux and Windows systems as well). You can have multiple Remote CLI virtual appliances should you wish.
·The VA has everything needed in one environment (perl and other libraries).
·The VA can run scripted commands that may take a long time to run (instead of your workstation console).
Getting the Remote CLI VA is straight-forward. I will go through downloading it from within VirtualCenter 2.5. The first step is to select Import from the Virtual Appliance option of the File menu within the Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC). The VIC will then present the Import Virtual Appliance Wizard, and select to import the VA from the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace:
Select the Remote CLI Appliance (at 119 MB at time of this blog) to download, and then click Next to proceed with the download. Note that when you download this VA, it is downloaded from your VIC – not the VirtualCenter server. You will be required to agree to the licensing and then be able to place the VA in your datacenter, cluster, storage destination, change the name (default is vicfg-rcli), and network configuration. Once the download is complete, the VA will be ready for some minimal configuration and you will be ready to run remote command line commands to Virtual Center.
Powering it on for the first time
Now that you have the virtual machine downloaded, you can check the basic hardware inventory of the system. It’s default configuration is quite thin at 256 MB of RAM, 1.4 GB of disk, but no CPU limitation. The Remote CLI VA is a Debian Linux-based system, and when you power it on you are presented with the license agreement again and then an opportunity to set a new root password, time zone setup, and then a logon prompt. The base VA will come up similar to the following:
It would be handy to have the VA placed on a vswitch that has DHCP, as then you would have zero post-download configuration to perform. Should you need to set an IP configuration. Log into the VA as the username ‘network’ to configure the IP configuration. From here, you simply enter the basics of the network and you will be presented with a screen like the following when you are complete:
From this point, the VA is configured for use in your environment. Any command that you run interactively (or script) will require authentication to the Virtual Center server. So, from here the base environment for the Remote CLI is ready for tasks.
Why would I want this?
The big reason is Storage VMotion, a new feature of ESX 3.5 and Virtual Center 2.5. SVMotion is only launched from the Remote CLI interface. From the Remote CLI VA, you are able to script multiple Storage VMotion tasks as well as run single iterations interactively.