Ever dreamed of administering your vSphere environment while on the go using an ultraportable device? I’m not talking about your laptop or even a netbook for that matter. I’m talking about something much lighter and more portable … something like the iPad. That’s actually possible now with the VMware vSphere Client for iPad.
The vSphere Client for iPad is an administrative client. Meaning, its features are mainly geared towards accomplishing VMware-related administrative tasks such as:
- Searching for vSphere hosts and virtual machines
- Monitoring the performance of vSphere hosts and virtual machines (VMs)
- Starting, stopping, and suspending VMs
- Viewing and restoring VM snapshots
- Rebooting vSphere hosts and bringing them into maintenance mode
- Diagnosing vSphere hosts and virtual machines using built-in tools like ping and traceroute
(Instructional video below provides a walkthrough of the steps contained in this article.)
Requirements for using vSphere Client for iPad
Before you can use vSphere Client for iPad, you will need the following:
- A running installation of vSphere and vCenter - Actually, vCenter is not required if you want to implement this on an individual ESX/ESXi server
- vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) - This is a virtual appliance which you can download for free from http://labs.vmware.com/flings/vcma and is the most important component in this list. It allows you to manage your virtual infrastructure from either the vSphere Client for iPad (on the iPad of course) or from a web browser, when using other mobile devices.
- A network connection to the vCMA server - This can be either a LAN or an Internet VPN. Although it is theoretically possible to set things up so that you can access vCMA straight over the Internet, this is not advisable for obvious security reasons. If you really want to access the vCMA from a coffee shop or the airport, then it should be through an Internet VPN.
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Of course, you would need the vSphere Client for iPad application itself. This vSphere Client is available for free at the iTunes Store.
Installing vCenter Mobile Access
Go to http://labs.vmware.com/flings/vcma and download the OVF file.
Note that this program is not designed solely for the vSphere Client for iPad. It can also be used with an application built for, say, a BlackBerry. In fact, if you click the Video tab, which is also visible on the screenshot, you can find a video showing a BlackBerry emulator connecting to vCMA.
We suggest you click the other tabs as well and take some time to read the System Requirements and Instructions.
Once you’re done with the download, go over to your vSphere Client where you’ll then deploy vCenter Mobile Access as a virtual appliance.
To start the deployment process, navigate to the File menu and select the menu item: Deploy OVF Template.
You’ll then be asked to point to the OVF file you downloaded. Do that by clicking the Browse button, navigating to the folder where you stored the downloaded file, and clicking the OVF file itself.
After the file has been selected and you’re back to the previous window, just click Next.
In the next window, you’ll be shown the details of that OVF template. Click Next.
In the succeeding window, read through the End User License Agreement. If everything looks fine, click the Accept button and then click Next.
If you want, you can then specify a name and location for the deployed template. Otherwise, just accept the default values. When you’re done with this part, click Next.
The next step is to specify where you want to store the virtual machine files. Select your desired destination storage, then click Next.
Select a format with which the virtual disks will be stored and click Next.
Finally, you’ll be shown a summary of all the options you picked. See if everything looks alright. To power on the vCMA after deployment, check the Power on after deployment check box. Click Finish.
The actual vCMA deployment process will then commence.
This is going to take a while. But when it’s done, the virtual appliance will launch automatically after boot. This is what will happen if you earlier instructed the system to Power on after deployment. You’ll then see a console that looks like this:
Take note of the IP address shown there. That’s the IP address you’ll need to manage the virtual appliance. You can check whether you have the correct details by opening a Web browser and entering that IP address there.
Using the Virtual Appliance Management Infrastructure
If that was correct, then you should see the Virtual Appliance Management Infrastructure login page. To login, enter root for the user name and vmware for the Password. These are just the default login details, which you can change later.
There are only a couple of things you can do here. You can:
1. View the network status.
2. Change the network address settings. You might want to assign a static IP address and specify a preferred DNS Server. Of course, you can also change the Netmask and Gateway settings.
If you do decide to make those changes, don’t forget to click the Save Settings button so that those changes can take effect. Since the IP address will have changed after you do that, you need to change the IP address on your Web browser’s address bar as well.
After you change the IP address, you might encounter an error notification like the one shown below. Just click on the link: Continue to this website.
You may be asked to login again. Just enter the login details as before. If you go to the Network tab, you’ll see that the changes have already taken effect. Other than that, the only other tasks you can do there is Shutdown the system or Reboot.
The vSphere Client for iPad
As mentioned, the vSphere Client for iPad is a free application that can be downloaded from iTunes. You can find the application on iTunes by either searching for “vSphere Client” or by going directly to this link using your iPad:
Here’s that page as seen on iTunes:
Download and install the application as you would a typical Apple app.
Administering vSphere Using an iPad
Before you can start using the client, you’ll need to specify settings for connecting to the vCMA VM. This is required when you first launch the client. You may enter either the vCMA virtual machine’s IP address or a DNS name, assuming you have already assigned a DNS host alias for the vCMA Server’s IP address in your DNS server.
On the next screen, you’ll then have to specify settings for connecting to the vSphere infrastructure. You’ll need to enter your vCenter server name, your username, and its corresponding password.
Once inside the VMware vSphere Client for iPad, you’ll see on the first screen the name of your vCenter Server. That screen will also show you the number of hosts and virtual machines in your virtual infrastructure. In the lower half of the screen, you’ll see some brief information regarding those hosts such as the number of VMs running on each one of them and the versions of their corresponding ESX servers.
If you click on a particular ESX/ESXi server, you’ll be brought to that server’s screen. There you’ll see that server’s CPU and Memory utilization expressed in percent. Other information you’ll find there include the Processor Type, the number of processors, amount of RAM, number of NICs, and whether vMotion is enabled.
Below all that information are the virtual machines running on that server with icons representative of the specific guest operating systems of those VMs.
If you then click on a particular guest OS, you’ll see:
- the specific name and version of the OS;
- the amount of CPU and RAM it’s currently using;
- its IP address, status, and VMware tools status;
- snapshots made on it; and
- the latest events related to it.
You can get even more information regarding that guest OS by clicking on the Performance button found at the bottom of that screen.
That will reveal some graphs featuring CPU, Memory, and Disk performance taken over time.
On the other hand, if you click on the Tools button,
You’ll be brought to a screen where you can do Pings and Trace Routes.
In addition, if you go to the top of the screen and click the gear icon, you’ll be able to Suspend, Stop, or Restart the VM.
Remember, all those procedures (e.g. showing performance graphs, troubleshooting using basic network tools, and doing certain VM actions) were carried out on a guest OS. You can do similar procedures on hosts as well. Here are those performance graphs again; but this time, they represent those of an ESX server.
We have finally reached the end of this article. Now that you know how to use the vSphere Client for iPad, you can now plan a trip to the beach just so you can try administering your vSphere environment from there. Enjoy!