Over the past couple of articles I’ve discussed how to setup your basic vSphere 5.1 environment, from setting up vCenter server and all of its various components to getting your in place hosts easily upgraded. For the next few articles I’m going to focus on components to help you manage that environment, no matter where you are. In this article I’d like to introduce you to a vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA), a VMware Labs “fling” allowing you to manage vSphere (vCenter and ESXi servers) from a mobile-formatted website or through a very slick iPad app.
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VMware Lab’s flings are a very neat place to take a look around that is open to the public. The idea is that if you are a VMware employee and have an idea they will provide you a space to develop that idea and the outcome has been positive for us as customers. While a few of these flings have begun to find their way into the official vSphere product line, most seem to just stay there in a free (as in beer) albeit unsupported way.



Installing vCMA

Installing vCMA is pretty simple because you are simply deploying an OVF and then following some well written directions to customize the appliance to fit into your network. To start with you can download the OVF from the VMware Labs site. Once you finished downloading and unzip the file you can use the VI Client to deploy the OVF like any other appliance. After going to File>Deploy OVF Template… the wizard look like this.

  1. First select where the OVF file is located
  2. Accept the EULA
  3. Name the VM and decide where to put both in your cluster as well as the storage network
  4. Choose how you want the disk provisioned
  5. Choose which virtual network to put it on

Now that the VM is deployed, go ahead and open the console and start it. Under the hood this is just a CentOS 5.2 box and unless you’ve got it on a VLAN with DHCP configured you’ll see a bunch of failures. This is no big deal in that once it launches. The first thing you do is select Configure Network. Network configuration is wizard based and any of us should be able to handle it. Once it returns to the main screen it will provide you with the link to manage the server. One final thing to do here that the creators recommend is to change the default credentials on the box (root/vmware). If you aren’t used to Linux simply log in with those credentials and use the command passwd. Follow the steps and that will be done.

vCMA Network Setup

vCMA Network Setup

vCMA usage

When you browse to the IP or URL of the vCMA box you will be prompted for the IP and credentials for the server you are wanting to connect to.

vCMA Login

vCMA Login

vCenter Mobile Access can be used for much of the basic operation of your vCenter server or individual ESXi servers. The list of things that can be accomplished from vCMA is pretty extensive. This includes:

  • Monitoring performance, alarms, and events of your clusters, hosts, virtual machines and datastores
  • Starting, stopping, restarting of virtual machines and hosts
  • Migrations of virtual machines and putting hosts in maintenance mode

Do be aware though that what this will not give you the ability to open the console on virtual machines. From the iPad perspective I use the awesome Remoter VNC for that.

The setup is similar on an iPad. Download the app from the app store. In initial settings give it the IP address of the vCMA box and off you go. The interface is quite nice actually and responsive. I think if you spend much time doing management from the couch at home or a sunny beach you will find Remoter VNC to be an invaluable tool.


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