Category Archives: Virtualization

How to Set up Connection Timeout in VI Java API

Per community requests, two methods were added into VI Java API 2.1 (GAed last summer) for changing the default connection and read timeouts. Both methods are defined in WSClient.java.

The first method setConnectTimeout() sets a specified timeout in milliseconds. It intends to be used when opening a communications link to the resource referenced by the URLConnection inside the WSClient object. If the timeout expires before the connection can be established, a java.net.SocketTimeoutException is raised. A timeout of zero is interpreted as an infinite timeout.

The second method setReadTimeout()

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged | 13 Responses

How to Set Up Proxy With VI Java API?

It’s common for companies to proxy HTTP traffics to external Web site, but not so for internal sites. Therefore, you rarely need to set up proxy for using vSphere API calls with an internal vCenter server. The uncommon cases do come up sometimes. This post explains how to set it up for vSphere API. Note that this is not really for VI Java API only but applicable for all Java applications.

There are two options and you can pick either of them per your use case:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Welcome Cisco to Open Source VI Java Community

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Cisco to our open source community. Given the brand recognition of Cisco, I don’t need to explain much about the significance of its becoming part of our community.

At the end of 2009, a development team at Cisco contacted me, and then started to use the VI Java API for integration with VMware vSphere. Like many other partners, they succeeded. Here is a paragraph I received from Andrew Levin (product manager) and Louis Jia (development manager). Thanks Andrew and Louis!

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing VMware vShield REST API

One of my colleagues asked me about vShield API and pointed me to the vShield API Programming Guide. I have of course heard about the vShield many times, but haven’t tried it out, let alone its API. But that doesn’t mean I cannot read it on demand. In fact, such questions motivate me to learn more beyond vSphere API. So keep your questions coming if you have one.

Here is what I found out after reading the programming guide. I have to admit I haven’t written any code connecting to a vShield test-bed, so I just share some basics of the API. Overall I found it’s similar to the vCloud API that I had worked with before in format and protocol.

Somehow the API does not, but I think should,

Posted in Virtualization | Tagged , , , , | 6 Responses

vSphere SDK Compatibility

Last week an issue was reported with using vSphere SDK 4.1 to connect vSphere 4.0. The problem is related to the HTTP header called “SOAPAction” introduced in vSphere SDK 4.0. A recent KB article introduced this header, but with a minor error. I will talk about it in the end.

With vSphere SDK 4.1, the SOAPAction header has a value of “urn:vim25/4.1” while 4.0 has “urn:vim25/4.0”. For an older version of vSphere server, either vCenter or ESX/ESXi, it has no idea of the new value of SOAPAction, therefore refuse to serve. But the other way around works just fine because the newer version of vSphere knows about the older value but also support the older version of SDK directly. As a result, any application using older version of SDK works with newer version of vSphere. I am not saying your application can leverage new features. In fact, you cannot and must upgrade to do so.

From the SDK part, I found it’s a little disturbing when your newer SDK cannot work with older vSphere. We all expert newer SDK are better and back compatible. That is why

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing PowerShell CLIs for VMware View

Two weeks ago when I twitted about VMware View APIs, several folks asked me if and where they could find View APIs. While VMware does not provide a full set of APIs, but does offer PowerShell based CLI as documented in the VMware View Integration Guide.

Beyond that, the guide also introduces the event database with tables and schemas so that you can retrieve various events from the database directly; how to import/export LDAP data to/from View; and how to “use Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor the state of VMware View components, including View Connection Server instances and security servers and View services running on these hosts.”

While trying the PowerShell CLI,

Posted in Virtualization | Tagged , , | 3 Responses

How to Enable or Disable Copy and Paste to Remote VM Console?

In my previous post, I introduced how to change a virtual machine’s vmx file programmatically and promised to post a full sample in my presentation at VMware Parter Exchange 2011. Now that the conference is over, it’s time to post it.

The sample is based on guideline VMX03 in vSphere security hardening guide: disable copy/paste to remote console. To me, allowing copy and paste to remote console like vSphere Client is a nice feature which can save you a lot of time. When security is a concern, however, you may want to disable it.

I will not discuss when you should disable/enable it because it really depends on your requirements. In most cases, security and convenience contradict with each other. I leave it for you to decide the right balance, but show you how you can check the setting and change it here.

Like most samples I write,

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Getting ESX and ESXi Memory Info

With a vSphere Client, you can easily check the memory information of a host, either ESX or ESXi. To get that, you click on a host from the inventory tree, and then configuration tab. From the left side Hardware section of the configuration page, you click Memory and see a pane displaying the memory info as follows:

Note that if you have chosen a ESXi host, you won’t see the Service Console part because there is no console OS any more in ESXi. BTW, VMware wants you to migrate from ESX to ESXi and here is a link with helps.

This seemingly easy information is actually not easy to get. At first glance, it should be in the config property of HostSystem (managed object representing an ESX or ESXi). The config property has a sub property called systemResources, typed as HostSystemResourceInfo. But you will get null for the systemResources property most, if not all, of the time, as reported in VI Java API forum.

Interestingly enough, HostSystem has a systemResources property in peer to the config property as well. Luckily, it’s not null so you can dig down for something. Still, with 3 sub properties of complex types included, how to get the memory from the data object?

Here are the steps to collect and calculate the numbers:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , | 9 Responses

How to Change VMX Programmatically?

As most of you may have known, the vmx file is the most important file at the back of a virtual machine. It defines the configurations of a virtual machine for example virtual hardware version, devices, disk files, etc. That is why it owns the virtual machine icon when you look at all the files behind a virtual machine with either datastore browser in vSphere Client or VMware Workstation/Fusion.

Given the importance of the vmx file, we don’t recommend anyone to manually modify it given that messing it up may corrupt a virtual machine. You can change the content indirectly from GUI and APIs. If you can change the virtual devices of a virtual machine, its vmx file is changed accordingly.

Beyond basic configuration entries, the vmx file can be extended to hold key/value pairs. A vmx file is really a text file with many lines of key/value pairs. By extending it, you can add extra lines of key/value pairs at the end of the file. Keep in mind that you should NOT add any key that is duplicated with predefined keys like “virtualHW.version.” As you already noticed, the key has the “.” delimiter as namespace pattern. You can start with your own namespace to avoid possible name clash.

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , | 9 Responses

How to Differentiate Folders in vSphere

As we know Folder is a container object in vSphere. It’s used to hold other managed objects in a similar way as directory holding files in an OS. There is an interesting question asking in VI Java API forum on how to tell whether a folder is vmFolder or hostFolder. BTW, you don’t see these two folders displayed in vSphere Client.

The questioner guessed correctly that you can find out by a folder’s childType property. Here is the documentation in API reference on the possible values of the childType property:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , | 4 Responses

Free ESXi and API/CLI support

I think there is a pretty good understanding on this topic, but questions still come up once in a while in VI Java API community and my inbox. Some people got errors while trying to manage free ESXi servers via API. The API support of free ESXi is limited to ready only according to a VMware KB article:

vCLI, PowerCLI, and vSphere SDk for Perl are limited to read-only access for the free vSphere Hypervisor edition. To enable full functionality of vCLI on a VMware ESXi host, the host must be licensed with vSphere Essentials, vSphere Essential Plus, vSphere Standard, vSphere Advanced, vSphere Enterprise, or vSphere Enterprise Plus.

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , , | 9 Responses

How You Can Use VI Java API in Scala: A Quick Sample

As I blogged before, you can use open source VI Java API in all JVM languages like Jython, Groovy, JRuby and frameworks like Grail. Today Dave Briccetti (@dcbriccetti) sent me a sample showing how to use it in Scala. Dave has been a happy user of the API since he started to work at VMware as an independent consultant more than a year ago.

Here is the code sample:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Delete Virtual Machine With vSphere API?

This question was asked at VI Java API forum recently and has been answered by the community.

There should be a “Destroy_Task()”-Method for each Managed Object, so also Virtual Machines…. Cheers, Joerg

As  Jörg Lew has correctly pointed out the solution, I would like to elaborate a bit more here.

If you are using VI Java API, the method name is destroy_Task(). The code is as simple as:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , | 3 Responses

Difference of Two Common Privileges in vSphere API

If you have used vSphere API and read its API Reference, you may have noticed two most commonly used privileges: System.View and System.Read. They are required in many methods. As their names suggest they are different, but what is the difference? It can be confusing for some people including me initially because it’s nowhere documented.

Here are some explanations after my talking to my colleague Jianping Yang who is the vCenter DB and Security guru.

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged | Leave a comment

HP Chooses Open Source vSphere Java API

After NetApp, Brocade and many other companies showing up on the VI Java API poweredby page, we now have the world’s biggest technology company HP officially listed. HP started to use VI Java API about two years ago and has shipped products ever since. I have attended several meetings called by my colleague Lucas Nguyen to work with HP architect Zachary Speck and his team. Included in the following short paragraph is a link to the HP plugin product. Please feel free to check it out.

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , | 2 Responses

Join Me at Partner Exchange 2011

VMware Partner Exchange takes place twice a year. One happens at the same time/location with VMworld US; the other in places like Las Vegas, Orlando. It’s a dedicated conference to educating and enabling partners for success with VMware. It has merged with Technology Exchange where you can find many technical presentations. I have been speaking at TechnologyExchange since I joined VMware in 2007. Here is the related articles I wrote earlier.

The coming ParterExchange will be in Orlando FL from Feb 7 to 11. Please join us to hear VMware’s plans for the coming year, learn of new technologies and partner programs, and understand the training roadmap. Here is the content catalog with all the sessions. Don’t forget the famous hands-on labs throughout the week. I will talk about securing vSphere infrastructure with vSphere API.

Also posted in News & Events | Tagged , , | 2 Responses

Open Source In Action: Open Source Projects from VMware

As a leading edge software company, VMware has a long history of support for open source software in its products. It also contributes back many patches and projects to the open source community including the vijava API that I created. With SpringSource and Zimbra acquisitions, more open source projects are associated with VMware brand.

Here is a list of 10 home grown open source projects from VMware. Please feel free to click links for more details and play with them.

1. Dr. Memory. It’s “a memory monitoring tool capable of identifying memory-related programming errors such as accesses of uninitialized memory, accesses to unaddressable memory (including outside of allocated heap units and heap underflow and overflow), accesses to freed memory, double frees, memory leaks, and (on Windows) access to un-reserved thread local storage slots.”

2. Virtual USB Analyzer. A “free and open source tool for visualizing logs of USB packets, from hardware or software USB sniffer tools. As far as we know, it’s the world’s first tool to provide a graphical visualization along with raw hex dumps and high-level protocol analysis.”

Also posted in Software Development | Tagged , | 2 Responses

vSphere Performance Counters for Monitoring ESX and vCenter

VMware vSphere provides comprehensive performance metrics for your needs on performance monitoring and diagnosis. These stats are available through not only vSphere Client but also vSphere APIs. To understand the overall performance management concepts, you want to read this article: Fundamentals of vSphere Performance Management.
Once having the basics, you may wonder what types of stats are exposed. The following table summaries all the 315 performance counters available in vSphere 4.1. As you might have guessed, the information is generated using open source Sphere Java API and then imported into WordPress using WP-Table Reloaded. You can easily sort and search the table.

Update: Carter Shanklin and Luc Dekens have articles on performance counters as well:

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Responses

Wire Compatibility of Web Services

As a software professional, you may have heard about the source compatibility and binary compatibility. With the Web Services, a new type of compatibility came up. This is what I call wire compatibility. It’s not related to the programming but the XML messages passed on the wire. Since we don’t use XML directly but programming APIs, the wire compatibility surfaces and affects the source and binary compatibility.

Too abstract? You bet. Let’s pick up an example here. Because VMware vSphere API is defined in WSDL, I will use it in the following discussion.

In vSphere 4.1, the method PowerOnMultiVM_Task() gets an additional parameter called option typed as OptionValue array. The following are related parts in the WSDL:

<operation name="PowerOnMultiVM_Task">
  <input message="vim25:PowerOnMultiVM_TaskRequestMsg" />
  <output message="vim25:PowerOnMultiVM_TaskResponseMsg" />
  <fault name="RuntimeFault" message="vim25:RuntimeFaultFaultMsg"/>
</operation>
<complexType name="PowerOnMultiVMRequestType">
  <sequence>
    <element name="_this" type="vim25:ManagedObjectReference" />
    <element name="vm" type="vim25:ManagedObjectReference" maxOccurs="unbounded" />
    <element name="option" type="vim25:OptionValue" minOccurs="0" maxOccurs="unbounded" />
  </sequence>
</complexType>

As you can see, the minOccurs of the option element is zero, meaning it’s optional. If you have an application built with 4.0 (no option parameter by then), the SOAP request still works. So it’s compatible on the wire.

Also posted in Software Development, vSphere API | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Undocumented VI and vSphere API Methods: A Little History

Most developers may have noticed the asynchronous methods in vSphere API like PowerOnVM_Task method, but not so many know their synchronous peers like PowerOnVM before 4.1. VMware vSphere API Reference doesn’t mention them at all. But you can find them in WSDL(check out the WSDL snippets at the end of this article).

There is an exception however. In VI Perl, these synchronous methods are exposed. There, you can choose which one to use. In vSphere Java API 2.0, these methods are exposed only in the stub layer but not the object layer. You don’t want to use stub methods directly when you can use objects, therefore I don’t talk much about it even in my book. Somehow I came across a question in the forum asking about this. So I think it may be good to share a little history and insight here.

The differences of these twin methods are minimal. They have exactly same parameters but different returns. The methods whose names include _Task suffix have Task returned. When you have the Task return, the operation may not yet be done at the server side. But with the Task object, you can track the progress, and even get the result data objects.

Also posted in vSphere API | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
  • NEED HELP?


    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.

    Me: Steve Jin, VMware vExpert who authored the VMware VI and vSphere SDK by Prentice Hall, and created the de factor open source vSphere Java API while working at VMware engineering. Companies like Cisco, EMC, NetApp, HP, Dell, VMware, are among the users of the API and other tools I developed for their products, internal IT orchestration, and test automation.