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Introducing: VMware vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) from VMware Labs

VMware vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) is a cool fling from VMware Labs. It allows mobile access to your vSphere environment via your vCenter(s).  Setting up vCMA takes very little effort as it is packaged as a virtual appliance.  You simply download vCMA as an OVF, deploy the OVF Template, and power on vCMA.  Once powered on, config the network and your ready to go.  Note that vCMA does not use a service account or static connector to vCenter, each user will login to vCenter via vCMA with their own credentials--think of vCMA as a web-based version of the vSphere  Client.


Introducing InventorySnapshot from VMware Labs

Checkout this awesome new Fling from VMware Labs, it's called InventorySnapshot.   Basically what it does is allows you to snapshot your vCenter and reproduce it on another vCenter.  Say you were doing an out of place migration and didn't want to bring your old database along for some reason, or just in your lab trying to replicate your production config.  You don't have to reproduce all the objects though, you can specifically restore just Resource Pool settings, DRS settings, Roles & Permissions, or again the whole damn inventory.

InventorySnapshot supports reproducing the following vCenter objects:

  • Datacenter Folders
  • Datacenters
  • Clusters
  • Resource Pools
  • vApps
  • Hierarchy
  • Roles & Permissions
  • Configuration Settings
  • Custom Fields

As you can see the only major item they are missing is Alarms, which they are working to support. The developers Balaji Parimi and Ravi Soundararajan did an excellent job documenting their Fling with a 17 page doc, they took the time to write a large troubleshooting and layout a few caveats/known bugs.


Introducing PXE Manager for vCenter

PXE Manager for vCenter enables ESXi host state (firmware) management and provisioning, Specifically, it allows:

  • Automated provisioning of new ESXi hosts stateless and stateful (no ESX)
  • ESXi host state (firmware) backup, restore, and archiving with retention
  • ESXi builds repository management (stateless and statefull)
  • ESXi Patch management
  • Multi vCenter support
  • Multi network support with agents (Linux CentOS virtual appliance will be available later)
  • Wake on Lan
  • Hosts memtest
  • vCenter plugin
  • Deploy directly to VMware Cloud Director
  • Deploy to Cisco UCS blades

What does that mean?  It automates the provisioning of ESXi hosts in either a stateless or stateful mode.  (notice no ESX support here!) via network boot using Pre-boot eXecution Environment (PXE)

How does that work?

Remember ESXi has a very small footprint--it's quite small that PXE booting ESXi is very easy.

Stateless and Stateful?

Stateful means the host keeps the "ESXi state" upon reboot--meaning the same version.  Think back to Microsoft RIS (remote installation services) days for VMware ESXi.

Stateless means the host doesn't keep the ESXi state upon reboot.  Why the heck would you want to do that you might ask?  I say why the heck wouldn't you want to do that?  Patching and upgrades becomes a breeze, throw a host into maintence mode--all the VMs evacuate to other hosts in the cluster then reboot the host.  When it comes up it's running the latest and greatest version of ESXi.  No extra leg work patching the host, it gets it automatically upon boot!  Think of the possibilities with DPM in the mix, a good amount of your environment can be automatically upgraded nightly when hosts get powered back on by DPM.


Provisioning becomes much easier--no need to install ESXi, and along with that the extra hardware required (SD Cards + Reader, Mirrored OS Drives, etc.)  Just rack new hardware and configure the BIOS for PXE boot and go!

Want to learn more?  Max Daneri threw together a great overview powerpoint

Ready to download? Grab it from VMware Labs and while your there check out other cool new things VMware is working on.