RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

Jul 12 2012   1:11AM GMT

Guest Blogpost from @UI_MAN – Why PowerCLI is making things worse…

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

This week I got a very odd and cryptic message from a stranger. It took some research to piece together who this “person” was. He wanted to write a guest blog post on my site – and that’s something I usually welcome. But generally I want to know these folks better than I do this guy. However, in the interest of free speech and stimulating debate I thought I would give him airtime.. Anyway this guy is called “UI_MAN“. From what I understand on twitter he wanted to be GUI_MAN, but that ID was actually taken. Stories abound and they are often contradictory and urban myths abound a plenty. He comes across as quite a bitter and twisted, and appears to have a long standing grudge against PowerCLIman. He’s been rumored to say some very derogatory things about PowerCLIman, such as: “… you call yourself a superhero. But superhero’s do not have West Country accents, and sound like someone from the Wurzels“.Some say… He was the child of two factory workers in a PC manufacturing site – and that their DNA was corrupted by chemicals used to manipulate plastics. Other says he was involved in hideous fire in the factory. He remains masked because bits of keyboard and mouse melted into his body, and became incorporated into his flesh. On his twitter page he states:

“I was born in plastic with two buttons on my forehead. My nemesis is PowerCLI man who believes the world is black and white, and should resemble DOS.”

All we do know his called “Gooeyman”. I’ve asked him to keep it technical, and to try and put his long standing grudge to PowerCLIman to one side. For the moment…


“Hello there my fellow virtualizationist. I come today with an important message about the hidden evils of PowerCLI. For many years system admins have struggled with the graphical users interface of vCenter and the vSphere Client. So far little has been done to address the pernicious short-comings of the GUI. My job as Gooeyman is draw attention to these failings in the hope that VMware will see the errors of her ways, and rectify them. However, at the moment my epic struggles have been hampered by the rise and rise of the forces of darkness and whiteness. By which I mean of course, PowerCLI.

Throughout the millennium the forces of darkness & whiteness have dress themselves up in garb of heroic superheros such as PowerCLIman. Often these forces have done so in order to dupe the foolish and gullible into thinking that future resides in a monochrome world of black backgrounds and white text. For many this reduction of the world of the system admin appeals to their binary natures. I’m here today to tell you that this need not be the case. You can join me in the struggle to bring back the forces of color and simplicity. It is my firm belief that the almost virus like success of PowerCLI is caused in part by lack improvements in the graphical user interface that most admins use on a daily basis.

The limitation of the vSphere/vCenter environment are plain to see. It’s major weakness seems to be its almost total lack of “bulk administration” features. In a simple words in most case it is impossible to apply a setting at a datacenter or cluster level and apply to all ESX host or VMs. Of course, VMware’s response to this would be that “Distributed vSwitches” and “Host Profiles” address this need for automation and consistency. But as they do so they will neglect to say two things – firstly they have placed the sweeties in the jar on the highest shelf, so that most VMware Admins cannot reach them – to use DvSwitches and Host Profiles you need be an Enterprize+ customer. Secondly, Host Profiles whilst offering a rich set of configuration options, requires the ESX host to be in maintenance mode. That makes host profiles fine for the configuration of a new server – but little use for an existing server. Making a simple task such as adding or updating the NTP setting on the host a convoluted and labor some task.

Step forward PowerCLI. In contrast it is capable of such bulk activities and it is free. It popularity has been driven by freely available scripts available from a variety of bloggers such as VMware’s very own Alan Renouf. You might think this a great thing. But my fellow virtualizationist it is not – sadly PowerCLI and its advocates have been duped and deceived by the likes of PowerCLIman. Now when any limitation is found the gooey-world VMware points to PowerCLI as the solution. Rather than improving the core graphical product. We are supposed to be entering a brave new world of the cloud, but still system admins are being forced to open command-line window to get even the simplest of tasks completed – merely because of limitations in the vSphere Client/vCenter. Why isn’t there a reporting and diagnostic feature inside the core product? Why should the humble admin be forced to learn yet another tortuous scripting language to manage the systems they own? Why is it in 2012 still acceptable to open window on your desktop that resembles DOS 5.1 in 1992? The vast majority of VMware customers are Windows people. These people want to click with a mouse and be able to visualize their virtual world. These are the questions that sadly no-one but me – Gooeyman –  is asking…

The other fiction propagated by PowerCLIman and his black & white ilk is that everything you can do in the vSphere Client you can do with PowerCLI. This a lie that few in the PowersHell community will openly admit to. But if you bump into a PowerCLIman follower (I call them cmdlets, a bit like piglets), and ply with them drink, they will soon start telling you telling of various settings they cannot control. If you follow me on twitter I have had a number of challenges to PowerCLIman. Interestingly, PowerCLIman has been eerily silent on these. Why? Because he knows that gooeyman is stronger than him, and knows his weaknesses. Gooeyman knows the limitations of PowerCLI and will endeavor to draw peoples attention to them.

PowerCLI followers will also tell you of their sojourns into the deep, dark, unfathomable recesses of the “SDK”. This is unearthly inferno is clearly inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy” – consisting of many circles of undocumented settings. Some PowerCLI fanatics are able to navigate there was around is caverns, but the vast majority baulk at its gates. But that doesn’t stop them saying “Well, yes there isn’t a cmdlet for that – but you could do it by accessing the SDK directly”.  Knowing they themselves fear its entry…

Today I ask you today – my fellow virtualizatists – to join me in the struggle against the darkness and whiteness of PowerCLI. To lift up arms in the eternal battle against wonks and geeks who bore you silly with their cryptic code and slippery syntax. The very same individuals who write reams and reams of indecipherable and undocumented code – only to leave the businesses they work for. Leaving some poor replacement admin at lost to understand their rhymes. Join me today in this struggle against the script monkeys – together we can work towards a world color where all you have to do is click “Next”.

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