PowerCLI 6.0 R2 – The most advanced version VMware has ever made

imageThis week VMware released a new version of PowerCLI and this release is the most advanced version ever made.  As the Product Manager for PowerCLI I am particularly proud of this release as we not only add core functionality to the vSphere cmdlets allowing access to report, manage and automate even more of the core infrastructure but yet again we introduce a number of new features allowing PowerCLI to reach even further into the SDDC and automate and integrate more products.

I always like to ask people what they want to see from PowerCLI next and for a long time now people have been talking to me about vROPs and telling me their use cases of being able to use the rich dataset and analytics provided by vROPs to make decisions and take further action with PowerCLI, something as simple as monitoring a web server to know when it is under duress and provision many more based on these statics all the way to being able to take action on storage systems by monitoring the workload over time.  The use cases are endless and now achievable by the latest version of PowerCLI.  More on this to come in a future post but lets just say I am excited to see what the awesome PowerCLI community does here.

There is so much to talk about in this release, I wanted to give you an overview in this post and then dive deeper into some of the key features in the future.

What’s New?

More Module Enhancements

The community made it clear that we had to move to modules, and whilst we are still getting there, in this release we made even more module enhancements, both to the core distribution model of PowerCLI cmdlets and also converting more of our code base from snapins to modules. In this version the License snap-in has been converted to a PowerShell module. In the new release the PowerCLI Modules have also been moved to the System PSModulePath allowing all users of a machine to access them once installed.

vROPS Support

As briefly mentioned above, a new module and cmdlets have been added to this release to allow access to vRealize Operations, access to the entire public API is available from the $global:DefaultOMServers variable using the ExtensionData property and full cmdlets have been included for the most used features, this gives us a good mix of fully functional easy to use cmdlets and yet the access for advanced users to be able to access the entire API through the ExtensionData property to create their own functions to expose anything to automate vROPs.  The following cmdlets were added for using with vROPs:

  • Connection: Connect-OMServer , Disconnect-OMServer
  • Alerts: Get-OMAlert, Get-OMAlertDefinition, Get-OMAlertSubType, Get-OMAlertType, Set-OMAlert
  • Recommendations: Get-OMRecommendation
  • Resources: Get-OMResource
  • Statistics: Get-OMStat, Get-OMStatKey
  • User Management: Get-OMUser

Update Manager

PowerCLI for Update Manager has always been available as a separate downloadable installer but it was hard to work with, you needed to work out which version of Update Manager you had installed on the server and install the exact version of PowerCLI cmdlets to work with it, this was obviously a pain when using multiple versions of vCenter or when trying to manage them from one machine.  In this version PowerCLI for vSphere Update Manager is no longer a separate downloadable component or installer and is now included in the core PowerCLI installer, it is selected by default during the PowerCLI install wizard which allows for simpler and quicker deployment and management of VMware products through PowerCLI. Enhancements have also been made to ensure a better backwards compatibility experience of this module and now supports versions of vSphere Update Manager all they back to 5.5.

vCloud Air

In the previous release we introduced PowerCLI for vCloud Air, allowing you to connect to your dedicated resources you have purchased and transfer your automation skillset into the cloud.  In this release you can now also connect to and manage vCloud Air On-Demand (vCA) instances with the –VCA parameter added to the Connect-PIServer and the new Get-PIComputeInstance cmdlet to list all available compute instances. Existing cmdlets for managing vCloud Director and vCloud Air can be used to work with vCloud Air On-Demand where applicable. Additional to these enhancements a new cmdlet has been added to make it easier and enhance the ability to work with OrgVDC Networks called Get-OrgVdcNetwork.

ESXi Host Hardware

This feature was asked for in the PowerCLI Communities, this is just one of the places we monitor to work out what our future releases look like.  New cmdlets have been added to work with ESXi host hardware, these cmdlets give the ability to interrogate your ESXi hosts and provide core system and hardware information.

Two new cmdlets have been added to work with this area:

  • Get-VMHostHardware lists host information
  • Get-VMHostPCIDevice lists all PCI Devices


Over the last number of releases we keep making enhancements to the storage cmdlets, with VSAN, IO Filters and now a number of enhancements have been made to the storage module introducing new cmdlets for working with VMware vSphere® API for Storage Awareness (VASA), NFS 4.1 and updated vSphere API for IO Filtering (VAIO) cmdlets.

The following new additional cmdlets are now available:

  • New VASA Cmdlets : New-VasaProvider, Remove-VasaProvider, Get-VasaProvider and Get-VasaStorageArray
  • New NFS Cmdlets: New-NfsUser, Remove-NfsUser, Get-NfsUser and Set-NfsUser
  • Added VAIO filters Cmdlet: Set-VAIOFilter

A pet peeve of mine and others

In previous versions of PowerCLI when you started the interactive shell it would always start PowerCLI in the directory where we installed the components, as I watched people use PowerCLI I would see them run a CD\ to get back to the root of the C: or they would use it from the install directory and often their commands would line wrap making it slightly harder to read, a small but hugely beneficial change was made in this release, the PowerCLI starting directory has now been changed from the full install path of PowerCLI to the root of the installation drive.

Business as usual

As usual updates have been made for PowerCLI to support the latest versions of the software it works with, in this case Site Recovery Manager (SRM) was updated to 6.1 and additional functionality has been added to discover SRM servers when they are deployed in a “shared recovery model” and support has been added for the vCloud Director 8.0 features which are provided by the backwards compatibility agreement of the VCD API.  All this and many more bug fixes and speed enhancements.

What an awesome release!

VMworld 2015–San Francisco–PowerCLI Session

Firstly, I want to say I had a blast at VMworld SFO this year, it was a fantastic show and it really felt like everyone was buzzing with excitement and interest in VMware, the announcements, the partners and just about everything else that was going on.  I think this may be one of my favorite years to date.


On top of the general excitement there was of course the awesome group discussions, meet the experts, sessions and customer meetings which I took part in, I was lucky enough to present on some awesome topics this year, the normal PowerCLI deep dive I give with Luc (see below) and also a fantastic new technology called Instant Clone (AKA VMfork). The instant clone presentation is not yet available but for those who are into PowerCLI I wanted to let you know that Luc and my session was made available for everyone to view via PowerCLI, including the information we gave on best practices and also a technical preview of PowerCLI.


If you are going to VMworld Barcelona do not worry, we are already adjusting our session to be even better with more best practices and even more information on the awesomeness of PowerCLI.  Well worth attending and watching this as well.


Same company different focus, let me know about your API wants!

For over a year I have been focused on improving VMware Command Line Interfaces including PowerCLI, vCLI, vMA, ESXCLI & DCLI.  I have tried to stay close to what the users of VMware want from a command line interface and have been delivering this as part of our current offerings and future offerings, I have been working with some of the best development teams in the industry (I may be biased) and have enjoyed talking to customers who use my products to do a variety of awesome things.

Well, none of that changes yet! I mean I am still responsible for working with the command line tools so please keep the feedback coming.


imageI have however recently taken over a new role and focus at VMware, one which I am highly excited to work on and make a real impact.  Around a month ago I took over the responsibility for the vSphere API and the vCloud Suite API, SDKs and CLIs.  There is a lot going on here and obviously that does not mean I am responsible for every feature which has an API!  In this new role I will be helping drive VMware APIs forward, working with customers and partners to identify gaps in our API/SDK/CLIs, define new APIs/SDKs/CLIs and work with multiple products and services within VMware to drive a better experience for people who use VMware products for automation or customers/partners who develop against our APIs to provide integration or DevOps engineers who want to just automate the entire experience and provide a constant lifecycle for their business processes or products.

Talk to me

Hopefully those who I have spoken to before, be it on twitter or via phone call or email or even over a beer know that I am an approachable guy, I may not always be able to talk about timeframes or where we are headed with our products but I promise you I will certainly take your feedback and prioritize it to produce the most valuable product to you.  Please do feel free to let me know what you think about the VMware APIs/SDKs/CLIs, the good, the bad and the ugly!

I would appreciate your quick thoughts on our APIs and what you would like to see going forward from us, feel free to use the comments on this post to pass them along or contact me via the other means mentioned.

Creating re-usable PowerCLI functions with “Onyx for the Web Client”

Onyx is a tool I have been using for years, it’s a tool that sat between the vSphere C# Client or Windows Client and the vCenter server and intercepted the SOAP calls, it would inspect these SOAP calls and convert them into PowerCLI code.  With the recent move away from the C# Client there is an obvious reason why the original Onyx Fling would not work anymore, its not like you can put it in between the web client and the vCenter service is it ?!

This tool was always a life saver for me as I’m not one to read API documentation, it was always a way to not only work out the code for me to alter and reuse but it was a great way for me to work out how VMware would do something, there is often multiple ways you can code something and if you can see what the C# client was doing to perform an action then that had to be a great place to start.

So up until now it has always been for the C# client, well today all that changes, just released is “Onyx for the Web Client” and it is awesome!

Firstly I want to thank the engineer who worked on it, Atanas Atanasov is a member of the PowerCLI team and was fantastic throughout the project taking feedback from myself and the internal testers at VMware (You know who you are and thanks!) and turning it around very fast to produce the end result which works fantastically.

So how does it work?

There are already some great blog posts out there on the official PowerCLI Blog, on Luc’s Site, Jonathans Site and on Roberts site which go into some detail so I thought I would do a quick video to show you how I like to use it.

In the video below I show how I do not know how to automate an advanced setting of a VM, I show how easy it is to record the action of changing that setting, take the code that the fling produces and then use it to firstly change a single VM to a different setting and then how easy it is to turn this into a function that can be used on all VMs in the environment.  This shows how we can create repeatable code that can be used (and shared) to achieve the task we need all with little knowledge of the API.

Download it now!

Make sure you download and install the fling in your test environment from here.

Watch how to use the fling

PowerCLI 6.0 and vCloud Air

One of the great enhancements in the recently released PowerCLI 6.0 is the ability to connect to vCloud Air and vCloud Air Networks, Massimo has already started doing a great write-up on these over at the vCloud Air Blog here.

So why is this a great enhancement?  Well any new area that supports PowerCLI or PowerShell is a great enhancement to me, I mean being able to use PowerCLI to take your automation one step further is always a bonus!  I love the fact that we can now from one shell manage our vSphere environments and our vCloud Air environments for troubleshooting, reporting, provisioning and general automation.  This also goes along with VMware’s key focus of being able to use the same tools to seamlessly extend your datacenter into the cloud by allowing management with the same tools you use to manage your vSphere environment.  On top of this, the ability to manipulate data in both areas and integrate scripts between your on-premises datacenter and your vCloud Air datacenter opens up some great possibilities, imagine being able to automatically spin up new VMs in the cloud when a script works out you need more resources and automatically adding and removing these to a load balancer etc. True hybrid computing!


Anyway, I could come up with use cases for this all day but lets get down to business and explain how to get started, firstly, read Massimo’s great posts here, secondly lets talk about connecting, there are a couple of tricks I have been using for a while now in vSphere that are transferable skills and also work in the vCloud Air environment that make it more convenient to use.

Connecting to vCloud Air with Username and Password

Firstly its easy to connect to vCloud Air and specify your username and password, this would look like the following:


The first thing you will notice is that we didn’t specify a server to connect to, with the Connect-PIServer cmdlet if no server is specified it uses the default of vchs.vmware.com, one less parameter to specify but what id I don’t want to give my username and password as part of the script?  What if I am giving a demo and I don’t want people to see my password?

Connecting to vCloud Air with interactive prompt

If we want to specify a username and password interactively we can just use Connect-PIServer, this is assuming you have not stored credentials in the VICredentialStore, which we will cover next.


Storing your credentials

This is the method I use the most, with this method I can have a highly secure random password and not need to remember it to connect to vCloud Air, this uses the same method of saving credentials that we use for vSphere environments and even the same secure file.  There are a couple of ways we can do this, the first is with the –SaveCredntials parameter as below:


Or use the New-VICredentialStoreItem cmdlet to create a credential item for vchs.vmware.com


Once you have the credentials stored you can manage them with the Set and Remove –VICredentialStoreItem cmdlets.

Now this has been done if we do not specify a credential it will check the VICredentialStore for credentials and use these so connecting to vCloud Air now becomes a single cmdlet:


Listing the Datacenters and Connecting

Now we have made the initial connection to vCloud Air we can easily list the datacenters we have access to and connect to them, firstly lets list the vCloud Air Datacenters with Get-PIDatacenter and then connect to them with Connect-PIDatacenter (which is actually an alias to the Connect-CIServer cmdlet).


Now you have some tips and can see how easy it is to connect to vCloud Air, in future posts I will make use of this connection to start automating vCloud Air and providing PowerCLI enabled resources to use with vCloud Air.

Horizon Mirage joins the PowerCLI club

VMware Horizon Mirage is a product in VMware’s EUC range of products that manage images across physical desktops and point of service devices. It uses something called layers to simplify OS and application rollouts. With Mirage, devices are separated into logical layers that can be controlled by the admin or end users. Admins can streamline OS and application layer updates, and end users can keep their personalized settings. Horizon Mirage enables quick OS updates and migrations, application upgrades, and hardware upgrades. Admins can also quickly enroll new PCs with bare metal provisioning.

This has historically been managed via a MMC style console and recently a web interface but new to this product from VMware Horizon Mirage 5.1 is its integration into PowerCLI and the ability of PowerCLI Cmdlets.  The Cmdlets are installed where you would install the Mirage Management Console, normally this is on the Administrators workstation.  Once installed you can connect to the Mirage Server and use the cmdlets to work with Mirage.

Download Mirage and Mirage PowerCLI here: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?productId=407&downloadGroup=MIRAGE-510


Name Synopsis
Apply-MirageOsMigration This cmdlet applies download only migrations.
Archive-MirageCvd This cmdlet archives the CVD.
Connect-MirageServer This cmdlet configures a connection to the Mirage API server.
Disconnect-MirageServer Disconnects from the Mirage server.
Get-MirageAppLayer This cmdlet returns the app layers from the Mirage system.
Get-MirageBaseLayer This cmdlet returns the base layers from Mirage system.
Get-MirageCvd This cmdlet returns the CVDs from Mirage system.
Get-MirageCvdCollection This cmdlet retrieves the collections from the Mirage system.
Get-MirageOsMigration This cmdlet retrieves the download only migrations from the Mirage system.
Get-MiragePendingDevice This cmdlet retrieves the pending devices from Mirage system.
Get-MiragePolicy This cmdlet retrieves the policies from the Mirage system.
Get-MirageVolume This cmdlet retrieves the volumes from the Mirage system.
New-MirageCvd This cmdlet creates a new CVD with the specified policy and volume in the Mirage sytstem.
New-MirageOsMigration This cmdlet migrates CVD with the specified base layer, app layer and related info in the Mirage system.
Remove-MirageCvd This cmdlet removes the CVD.
Set-MirageCvd This cmdlet updates the CVD with the specified policy.
Sync-MirageCvd This cmdlet synchronizes the CVD’s device information.




Retrieving VM Metrics from vCloud Air

Recently I was working with vCloud air and PowerCLI and was asked if there was a way to retrieve the statics of a VM and export these to get a better idea of the utilization of that VM.

Working with vCloud Air and the API through the PowerCLI cmdlets I was able to use the GetMetricsCurrent() and GetMetricsHistoric() to retrieve both the current VM Metrics and also the historic metrics of a VM.  The type of metrics and their values is described here.

VM Current Metrics

Current metrics are instantaneous values collected at the time the request is processed. The GetMetricsCurrent() method retrieves a list of current metric values, one for each category. I put this into a handy function which can be found at the end of this post, with this function we can pass vCloud AIR VMs into it and retrieve the current metrics.


VM Historic Metrics

Historic metrics are collected and stored for 14 days. A call to the GetMetricsCurrent() method retrieves the past 24 hours of metric history.  again I created a function that allows us to select a VM (or multiple) and get the historic data for this VM.


You will see that this time the method returns a collection of results in the Sample entry, we can then expand this to return the results for the metric over the last 24 hours.


Creating a VM Statistical report

Of course with this being PowerShell we can add value to these results, I mean who wants to look at a long list of numbers, wouldn’t you rather see a pretty graph?  We can easily use Luc’s great Export-XLSX function to export the results for each metric straight into Excel and even create us a nice graph for each statistic:



The Functions

Make sure you download Lucs Export-Xlsx function from here, and below are the functions I used to retrieve this information from vCloud Air.

Function Get-CIVMMetric {
	Param (
	Process {
		foreach ($VM in $CIVM) {
			If ($VM.Status -ne "PoweredOn") {
				Write-Host "$VM must be Powered On to retrieve metrics"
			} Else {
				$Metrics = $CIVM.ExtensionData.GetMetricsCurrent()

Function Get-CIVMHistoricalMetric {
	Param (
	Process {
		foreach ($VM in $CIVM) {
			If ($VM.Status -ne "PoweredOn") {
				Write-Host "$VM must be Powered On to retrieve metrics"
			} Else {
				$Metrics = $CIVM.ExtensionData.GetMetricsHistoric()

# Get the Current Metrics for the VM
Get-CIVM sql-w-01a | Get-CIVMMetric

# List the Available Historical Metrics for the VM
Get-CIVM sql-w-01a | Get-CIVMHistoricalMetric

# Get the CPU Historical Metrics
Get-CIVM sql-w-01a | Get-CIVMHistoricalMetric | Where {$_.Name -eq "cpu.usage.average"} | Select -ExpandProperty Sample

$VMName = "sql-w-01a"
Foreach ($stat in (Get-CIVM $VMName | Get-CIVMHistoricalMetric)){
    Foreach ($Entry in $Stat) {
        $Data = $Entry.Sample | Select Timestamp, @{Name=($Entry.Name);Expression={$_.Value}}
        Export-Xlsx $Data C:\Temp\$VMName.xlsx -WorksheetName ($Entry.Name) -ChartType "xlXYScatterSmooth" -AppendWorksheet

Receiving alerts on if a VM has over a given number of snapshots

Last week I was asked if there was an easy way to get an alert once a VM had over a certain number of snapshots, this is a frequent request as it would seam some backup products like to keep snapshoting VMs and note removing them.

There are several ways this could be kicked off, including setting a vCenter Alarm on snapshots and getting it to run a script but in this case it was simple, they wanted to run a scheduled task once a day and get an email listing the VMs that had over x amount of snapshots and the details about the last one created, of course it was a 5 minute script but I thought I would blog it anyway for others to use if they needed it.  Enjoy


BTW, its also very easy to get this to work with gmail if you use that as your email provider, just replace the Send-EmailMessage line with the below:

$SMTPClient = New-Object Net.Mail.SmtpClient($SmtpServer, 587)
$SMTPClient.EnableSsl = $true
$SMTPClient.Credentials = New-Object System.Net.NetworkCredential(“my.email@gmail.com”, “mYpa$$w0rd”);
$SMTPClient.Send($EmailFrom, $EmailTo, $Subject, $Body)


Example email



Automated deployment of vCloud Networking and Security 5.5

A while ago I posted a PowerCLI method for deploying vShield 5.0 which can be found here, as mentioned in the comments of that post this did not work for vCNS 5.5, this is because the process of deploying it changed and actually became a lot neater than what it was before.  Before we had to reach inside the guest OS and mess around with configuration files.  In the 5.5 release the vCNS team made some changes to make this easier for people to automatically deploy,


I actually wrote this a while ago and forgot about it until recently when I was asked if it could be done, this was a great reminder for me to post the code for others to use.


You will see in the code that we need to specify some variables at the start of the script, you will see in the code that you need to specify a cluster to deploy vCNS to, as part of this script it automatically picks a random host and a shared datastore which has enough room to deploy the appliance to, this is just an example and can be changed to your requirements as needed – I was just having fun with a kind of automated placement Winking smile

You will need PowerCLI 5.8 R1 for this and don’t forget, once vShield has been deployed you can easily take the configuration further by using the vShield module I created here.   For other examples of deployment scripts for VMware appliances check out the repo here and contribute!

Example output



Automating Tags and Tag Category creation and assignment with PowerCLI

Fimageor a couple of releases now PowerCLI has been able to work with vSphere Tags, A tag is a label that you can apply to objects in the vSphere inventory.

After creating a tag, you can assign that tag to a category. Categories allow you to group related tags together. When you define a category, you can also specify the type of objects to which its tags can be applied to and whether more than one tag in the category can be applied to an object.

For example, if you want to tag your virtual machines by the owner, you can create a category called “Owner” and specify that it applies to virtual machines only and that only a single tag can be applied to a virtual machine at any time. The tags in this category could be Alan, John or Fred etc.

I have had a few people ask me how they can use PowerCLI to work with external systems, CMDBs, databases or even just a CSV file.

One example of this is where a company could have various information about hosts or datastores or virtual machines, like the project that purchased these, a cost code or an owner.  This data is generally stored somewhere else but it would be great to see this information straight in the vSphere Web Client where you manage the objects so that you can instantly contact the owner or work out which project the object is being used for etc.

The below video shows how we can use PowerCLI and this generic script I created to import the data, create the tags and tag categories and assign them to the machines, it uses a csv as input but this could obviously be changed to anything which can be read in PowerShell, like a API, database, application etc etc.

Automating tags and tag categories video

Example Script

This script is the script I created as an example which relates each of the items in the Name column to an object in the inventory then for each of the other column headers it will create a category and then the tags that are under the categories, once this has been done it will apply the tags to the objects in the Name column.

Connect-viserver myvc.corp.local -user administrator@vsphere.local -pass Pa$$w0rd
$CMDBInfo = Import-CSV C:\Software\cmdbinfo.csv

# Get the header names to use as tag category names
$TagCatNames = $cmdbinfo | Get-Member | Where {$_.MemberType -eq "NoteProperty"} | Select -Expand Name

# Create the Tag Category if it doesnt exist
Foreach ($Name in ($TagCatNames | Where {$_ -ne "Name"})) {
    if (-Not (Get-TagCategory $Name -ea SilentlyContinue)) {
        Write-Host "Creating Tag Category $Name"
        New-TagCategory -Name $Name -Description "$Name from CMDB" | Out-Null
        # Create Tags under the Tag Categories
        $UniqueTags = $cmdbinfo | Select -expand $name | Get-Unique
        Foreach ($Tag in $UniqueTags) {
            if (-Not (Get-Tag $Tag -ea SilentlyContinue)) {
                Write-Host "..Creating Tag under $Name of $Tag"
                New-Tag -Name $Tag -Category $name -Description "$Tag from CMDB" | Out-Null
            # Assign the Tags to the VMs/Hosts
            $cmdbinfo | Where {$_.($Name) -eq $Tag} | Foreach {
                Write-Host ".... Assigning $Tag in Category of $Name to $($_.Name)"
                $TagAssignment = Get-Tag -Category $Name -name $Tag
                New-TagAssignment -entity $($_.Name) -Tag $Tagassignment | Out-Null

Virtually everything is POSHable