5 helpful plugins for VMware vSphere

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VMware vSphere is the the most popular kind virtualization software. It based on full virtualization. All virtual machines are controlled by shared operating system (ESXi). Now virtualization is one of the most perspective IT fields. Community has been realised that virtual servers is a great tool for resources economy. Today we don’t really need to place on server only one system, when there could be a place for dozens. Virtualization can save not only financial part of IT-business, but ecological environment too.

By itself VMware ESXi is free virtualization platform. They have many must-paid features, but free utilities too. I’d like to concentrate on useful tools helping for virtualization cluster administration. It’s not a post about “How to download/install/use”. The main goal – exhibit plenty of opportunities VMware can provide.

1. Syslog Collector


VMware Syslog Collector is a general log journal. It’s collecting events from every server included in cluster. Basically this is a vCenter feature, that is not a free. Also collector is working only inside of WIndows Server platform. But if you have few severed ESXi, that’s a good idea too. Server can crashed and personally you might not know about the reason. And here you’ll have a Syslog Collector as your right hand. Here is the installation tutorial.

2. Update Manager


Paradise for CLI haters. A couple of clicks – and every necessary patch will be installed on your ESXi. And you have a possibility of dotted choice of package to install. VUM installation includes two basic steps. At first, install it from general vSphere installer. At last, put it in your client as add-on in plugin manager.

3. Data Recovery


The problem of ESXi backup by external software is the control absence. You can’t choose any special Guest OS, only get a full ESXi platform. VMware Data Recovery can help you to pick few various systems to back up from one ESXi. It’s managing your reserves as a special OS. There are 3 installation steps. First: install plug-in from vSphere manager. Later deploy OVF template. And, at last, configure in VDR system a hard disk of desired server. But it’s for must-paid version. They have an Open-Source solution too, but installation is going to be more complicated. I still can’t find a correct instruction to deploy an Open Source solution.

4. File Level Restore


This utility hadn’t any update since ESXi 4 version. But I think it’s a useful plugin tool. It has the same purpose as a VDR, but getting to the bottom of backup. It can restore different files from your Guest OS. That’s awesome if you just want to come back one file accidentally removed. Unfortunately, original of File Level Restore is a surcharge as a VDR. And Open Source solution is definitely raw too.

5. Management Assistant


VMA is a special operating system based on OpenSUSE distro. For installation just deploy ready vMA template. But where are the benefits? Management Assistant provides a lot of ESXi configuration tools. Some ESXi commands is embedded into system. The first feature: vSphere SDK for Perl development. You can create a special vSphere plugin for your own needs.

And here is a choice of configuration tools. Won’t count it, just set a good example. Once upon time we need to link ESXi servers with UPSes. Necessity of task – correct shutdown in case of blackout or any electrician emergency else. So, we deployed a NUT program in vMA and configured parameters it in vSphere client.  And here we go! Now ESXi servers can exchange commands with UPS and fix the time of correct shutdown. Moreover, vMA has a Web-interface for update checking and advanced configuration.

Also vSphere has some more add-ons. For instance, ESXi Dump Collector for emergency logging. Or VMware Authentication Proxy for MS Active Directory integration. But I never used it, thus can’t write anything.

And don’t forget! There is a variation of virtualization platforms. In full virtualization this is Proxmox and RHEV from Red Hat. In paravirtualization this is a QEMU and Xen. If you can step out from proprietary software – do it!

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