Uploading / running utilities directly on ESXi hosts

As part of planning our upgrade from VMware NSX-V from v6.2.2 to v6.2.4 we became aware of the VMware issue KB2146171 (link) which can cause VMs to lose network connectivity when vMotioned to other hosts following the upgrade. Obviously wishing to avoid this for our own (and customer) VMs, we raised a support case to obtain the VMware script to determine how many of our VMs (if any) were going to be affected. Unfortunately the VMware script we were supplied was configured to run *after* the upgrade had already been completed. Fortunately the VMware utility supplied (vsipioctl – a binary to be run directly on ESXi hosts) could tell us which VMs were affected prior to upgrading.

Since we have a reasonably large number of hosts and hosted VMs I set about writing some PowerShell to perform the following actions:

  • Connect to vCenter and enumerate all ESXi hosts.
  • Enable SSH access to each host in turn.
  • Upload the VMware vsipioctl utility to the host /tmp/ folder and make it executable.
  • Run vsipioctl and parse the return information.
  • Build a table / CSV of all VM network interfaces with the results of the vsipioctl utility.
  • Disable SSH on the hosts once done and move on to the next host.

At first I tried using PuTTY plink.exe and pscp.exe from PowerShell to perform the SSH and SCP file copy to the hosts, but had serious problems passing the right password & command line options due to the way PowerShell escapes quoted strings. In the end I found it easier to use the PoshSSH PowerShell library (https://github.com/darkoperator/Posh-SSH) for these functions rather than shelling out to PuTTY executables.

Note that we usually leave SSH access disabled on our ESXi hosts, so the script shown enables this and then re-disables SSH after running – adjust if necessary when using in your own environments.

If you need to run this check for your own environment you will still need to open a VMware support call to obtain the vsipioctl binary as far as I am aware as I don’t believe this is available any other way.

The script is shown below – hopefully this will be useful for some of you, just make sure you test properly before running against a production environment. Luckily in our case the script proved that none of our VMs are impacted by this issue and we can safely proceed with our NSX-V upgrade.






Live import VMs to vCloud Director

Tom Fojta wrote a great blog post about the new capability in vCloud Director 8.10 to import running VMs into vCloud Director. This is a huge asset in migration scenarios where customers can’t afford outages when being migrated into the vCD environment. Unfortunately the API syntax to actually initiate the import is a little convoluted and not the easiest process to manage.

I set about writing a PowerShell script to significantly simplify the process of initiating a live-import operation. The script itself is available from github at the following link: https://github.com/jondwaite/vcdliveimport.

The liveimport.ps1 script contained in this repository does the following:

  • Prompts for a credential to be used to connect to both vCloud Director (System context) and vCenter – if you have different usernames/passwords for each you’ll need to adjust this.
  • Enumerates the available vCenter instances registered as Provider Virtual Datacenters (PVDCs) in vCloud Director and allows one to be selected as the source vCenter for the migration.
  • Lists the available VMs in the selected vCenter instance, filters this list based on selectable criteria (e.g. don’t offer to import ‘Guest Introspection’ VMs) and allows the source VM to be selected.
  • Lists available destination Virtual Datacenters (VDCs) in the vCloud Director environment and allows the destination VDC to be selected.
  • Displays the appropriate POST request information to be submitted to vCloud Director to initiate the live-import of this VM.
  • Optionally – Submits the REST API request directly to the vCloud Director environment to actually initiate the import process.

An example transcript of this process is show below. Hopefully this helps someone else out and helps to make it easier for you to live-import running VMs into vCloud Director.


Example Session Transcript:


Create an empty vApp in vCloud Director

Sometimes you just need to create a new vApp with no contents at all – maybe for testing, or maybe you want to populate it with VMs built ‘from scratch’ rather than cloned from templates. This is easy to do in the vCloud Director web UI – you just skip the addition of any VM templates or new VMs and can easily create empty vApps, but how about programatically?

The VMware documentation is remarkably slim in this regard – all the documented methods I could find for vApp creation require either cloning from existing vApp templates, from existing VMs or from uploaded OVF files.

So how do we create a brand-new empty vApp? Turns out it’s pretty simple – once you discover the ‘composeVApp’ method on an Organization VDC supports creation of empty vApps.

If using the REST API we can simply create an XML body document of type ‘composeVAppParams’ and submit it against the OrgVDC’s /action/composeVapp link.

An example XML document body could be:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<Description>My vApp Description</Description>

We then ‘POST’ this document body to the link: ‘https://<Cloud Server DNS name or IP address>>/api/vdc/<ID of our VDC>/action/composeVApp’ not forgetting to add a header of ‘Content-Type: application/vnd.vmware.vcloud.composeVAppParams+xml’ to the POST request.

If we want to accomplish the same thing using PowerShell / PowerCLI it’s easy too (once connected to our cloud using Connect-CIServer):

$vapp = New-Object VMware.VimAutomation.Cloud.Views.ComposeVAppParams
$vapp.Name = “MyEmptyVapp”
$vapp.Description = “My vApp Description”
$myorgvdc = Get-OrgVdc -Name ‘My OrgVDC Name’

No idea if this is ‘officially’ supported or not – so use at your own risk and be aware that the implementation could change in a future release and break this (although I’d be surprised as this is almost certainly the action that the vCD web UI is submitting ‘behind the scenes’ when you manually create an empty vApp).