A Little Known Secret of vSphere Managed Object Browser

secretMost VI SDK developers know Managed Object Browser (MOB), and mostly have used it for better understanding of the SDK, or assisting programming and debugging. In my opinion, it’s a must-have  tool for every vSphere SDK developer.

It’s extremely helpful if you want to figure out the inventory path of certain managed entities. The vSphere Client shows you different paths which don’t work with the SearchIndex and others. Nothing wrong with vSphere Client – it just tries to display information in a way that is easier to understand by the system administrators.

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To use the browser, you just enter the following URL to your server:


After entering the user name and password, you see the home of the MOB. You can then click down to different managed objects, and even invoke methods. Check this document in vSphere Client Plug-ins community, in which I described how to use MOB to register a plug-in with “100% less line of code” (Carter’s joke, by the way). Because you have to change XML content, it could be quite error prone. Therefore you wouldn’t want to use it as a norm.

Everything till here is common knowledge. If you have ever closely read the HTML source of the MOB pages, you can find a section as follows:

<xml id="objData">
  <capability xsi:type="Capability">
  <content xsi:type="ServiceContent">
    <rootFolder type="Folder">ha-folder-root</rootFolder>
    <propertyCollector type="PropertyCollector">ha-property-collector</propertyCollector>
    <viewManager type="ViewManager">ViewManager</viewManager>
      <name>VMware ESX Server</name>
      <fullName>VMware ESX Server 3.5.0 build-62355</fullName>
      <vendor>VMware, Inc.</vendor>
    <setting type="OptionManager">HostAgentSettings</setting>
    <userDirectory type="UserDirectory">ha-user-directory</userDirectory>
    <sessionManager type="SessionManager">ha-sessionmgr</sessionManager>
    <authorizationManager type="AuthorizationManager">ha-authmgr</authorizationManager>
    <perfManager type="PerformanceManager">ha-perfmgr</perfManager>
    <eventManager type="EventManager">ha-eventmgr</eventManager>
    <taskManager type="TaskManager">ha-taskmgr</taskManager>
    <accountManager type="HostLocalAccountManager">ha-localacctmgr</accountManager>
    <diagnosticManager type="DiagnosticManager">ha-diagnosticmgr</diagnosticManager>
    <licenseManager type="LicenseManager">ha-license-manager</licenseManager>
    <searchIndex type="SearchIndex">ha-searchindex</searchIndex>
    <fileManager type="FileManager">ha-nfc-file-manager</fileManager>
    <virtualDiskManager type="VirtualDiskManager">ha-vdiskmanager</virtualDiskManager>
  <serverClock xsi:type="xsd:dateTime">2010-02-02T18:20:47.427266Z</serverClock>

 If you are familiar with vSphere SDK, you know this XML holds all the property values of the ServiceInstance managed object. It’s not only for this starting managed object, but for every managed object along your clicking!

Remember, when your browser can get the information, you can write programs to do it as well. This actually led me to write the Client REST API, which released in VI Java 2.0. This is a very tiny yet powerful set of APIs which allow you to do everything, at least in theory, VI SDK can do for you.

It’s interesting to note that, when I talked to our engineer who wrote this great tool, he mentioned to me there was a secret in the MOB pages. By that time, I already shipped the API. There is little secret in IT today :-).

I will blog on the Client REST API later. Stay tuned by subscribe the feed.

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  1. Carter Shanklin
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    The MOB can also access internal-only objects such as VimCLIInfo, check out this screenshot for some clues http://twitpic.com/v11ks

  2. Posted June 4, 2013 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Gurus’
    My question is regarding the VCenter MOb. Is it possible to connect VCenter MOB using HTTP connection. As by default it connects using HTTPS Connection.

    Please suggest….


  3. Posted June 4, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Hi Pravin,

    vCenter MOB uses Tomcat as Web server. I think it has something like the following in the server.xml

    To use HTTP, you want to remove it and add port 80 connector.
    Good luck!


  4. Posted December 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, this is a subject which is dear to my heart.
    Where are yor contact information though? My name’s Meghan Fredricksen and I’d love
    to discuss this in depth.

  5. Posted July 14, 2015 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    FYI the login to MOB needs to be with credentials of what you login to the Vcenter with. If this is via domain authentication the username is case sensitive so try DOMAIN\USER domain\USER domain\user with the correct password!

  6. Posted July 19, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks Paris!

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    My company has created products like vSearch ("Super vCenter"), vijavaNG APIs, EAM APIs, ICE tool. We also help clients with virtualization and cloud computing on customized development, training. Should you, or someone you know, need these products and services, please feel free to contact me: steve __AT__ doublecloud.org.

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