The top free VMware scripting and command-line tools

This section of our virtualization freeware guide explains how free VMware scripting and command-line tools such as VMware PowerCLI automate key vSphere administration tasks.

Whether you use VMware ESX or ESXi, free VMware command-line and scripting -- with such tools as vMA, Power CLI and vSphere Health Check -- help configure virtual machines VMs), better manage VMware vSphere infrastructure and automate administrative tasks from the command-line. VMware offers three tools for VMware command-line and scripting, and these tools share similarities.

In this section of our best free virtualization tools guide, we cover the management and VM automation capabilities provided by VMware vMA, vCLI, PowerCLI and vSphere Health Check.

VMware vMA: VSphere Management Assistant
When VMware released its ESXi hypervisor, which lacks a supported command-line interface, the virtualization provider had to offer a solution for admins who accustomed to using CLI and for those who had agents running in the ESX service console. VMware released VIMA - Virtual Infrastructure Management Assistant (VIMA)- as an appliance that runs Linux and that had the same command-line options as the ESX console. Other than a way to run VMware command line tools, VIMA offered Perl scripting and a centralized repository for those scripts.


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When vSphere 4 was released, VIMA was renamed vMA, and it is still the same effective and free CLI management appliance for a VMware virtual infrastructure.

For more information on vMA, read my article on using the VMware vSphere Management Assistant (vMA).


VMware vCLI : The vSphere Command-Line Interface
The same VMware command line tools can be installed in your Windows or Linux workstation. VMware called these tools the vSphere Command Line Interface (or vCLI). The vCLI allows you to run the traditional VMware tools such as esxcfg-nics or vicfg-nics right on your PC.

Just as with vMA, there are tons of contributed scripts available for vCLI (more information below).

To learn more about vCLI and download it (for free), just visit VMware's vCLI homepage.

VMware PowerCLI: The PowerShell command-line Interface
Instead of using Perl as your VMware tool scripting engine, those accustomed to Microsoft PowerShell, can use VMware offers PowerCLI, which is a PowerShell-based tool to manage VMware infrastructure.

Like vCLI and vMA, there are tons of contributed scripts available for PowerCLI.

To learn more about PowerCLI and download it (for free), just visit VMware's PowerCLI homepage.

VMware's Contributed Script Repository and vSphere Health Check Script
It may be nice to have Perl and PowerShell scripting options but it is a whole lot nicer to have a library of useful scripts at your command. Thankfully, many VMware admins have contributed the scripts they created to the VMware community. For example, the vGhetto script repository is one of the best and largest such repositories for VMware scripts. In particular, it contains one of the best scripts I have seen: the vSphereHealthCheck script. This single script can query ESX hosts, vCenter servers, and clusters and return a wealth of information - offering a clear and organized report on your vSphere infrastructure. To run this script, you need either vMA, vCLI, or PowerCLI (if you use the PowerShell version of vSphereHealthCheck).

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About the author
David Davis is the director of infrastructure at TrainSignal.com -- the global leader in video training for IT pros. He has several certifications including vExpert, VMware Certified Profession (or VCP), CISSP, and CCIE #9369. Additionally, Davis has authored hundreds of articles and six video training courses at Train Signal, where one of the most popular course is the VMware vSphere 4 video training course. His website is VMwareVideos.com. You can follow Davis on Twitter or connect with him at David on LinkedIn.


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