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ESXCLI Partner Extensiblity

By William Lam, Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer

Many vSphere administrators are familiar with the ESXCLI command-line utility that helps manage and configure settings on their ESX and ESXi hosts. With the release of vSphere 5.0, ESXCLI now includes a total of 250 commands that span across various namespaces.

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One would expect that VMware can easily extend and create new namespaces to expose VMware platform specific functionality. An example of this would be the vcloud namespace that is made available when vCloud Director is installed. What you may not know is, ESXCLI was actually built with a modular and extensible framework from the ground up and can easily be extended by third party providers as well.

Wouldn’t it be cool to see a hardware vendor extend ESXCLI to include commands to help manage and configure their specific hardware?

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Well, this is exactly what HP had done. Juan Manuel Rey, who works for HP, recently blogged about several new HP specific namespaces that are bundled as part of the HP’s customized ESXi image profile. Note that even if you are not running HPs custom image profile, or if you have an earlier version that does not include the new namespaces, you can still get access to the HP specific ESXCLI namespaces. You can simply install the relevant VIBs from HP’s online VIB depot using the command-line or using VMware Image Builder as shown here by Kyle Gleed.

Here is a screenshot of the HP namespaces using the local ESXCLI in the ESXi Shell:
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Another neat thing about integrating with ESXCLI, is that you not only get access to the vendor specific commands using the local ESXCLI utility available from the ESXi shell, but you also automatically get a free remote command-line version using the remote ESXCLI utility that is part of vCLI/vMA. This provides you the benefit of centralized management and configuration of your ESX(i) hosts leveraging the capabilities provided by your vendor.

Here is a screenshot of the HP namespaces using the remote ESXCLI command:
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Note: The remote ESXCLI requires additional parameters such as the ESX(i) host, username and password. You also have the option of authenticating against vCenter if the ESX(i) host is being managed by a vCenter Server.

As you can see the ESXCLI extensibility framework not only benefits VMware but can also benefit other vendor solutions that integrate with VMware. If you are a customer who would like to see this type of integration from other vendors, be sure to let them know about the extensibility of ESXCLI in vSphere 5.0 and how they can seamlessly integrate their tools with VMware to help make life a lot easier for the vSphere admininstrator. If there are other vendors who have similar capabilities and have integrated with ESXCLI, I would love to hear about it.

UPDATE:

Brocade – ESXCLI plug-in (BCU) support

LSI – ESXCLI plug-in (MegaCLI) support

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