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Hello World using vSphere SDK

If you know how to write web services clients, you know how to program using the vSphere Web Services SDK. vSphere APIs are exposed as web services, compliant with WS-I BP 1.0. vSphere Web Services SDK consists of the WSDL files (containing the vSphere API, and data object definitions), client side stubs (Java) generated by Axis 1.4, sample programs in Java and C#, and reference documentation. The goal of this is to explain how to write a simple Hello World equivalent program using the vSphere APIs.

A good understanding of the object model is fundamental to writing the client programs. vSphere APIs consist of managed objects, and data objects.

Data object represents information about the managed objects. It is passed by value to the client. It is defined in the WSDL schema.

Managed object represents a server side object. It represents either an entity (data center, host system, virtual machine etc.) or a service (session manager, property collector, root folder etc.). It is not defined in the WSDL schema. All the API invocations require a managed object reference. Managed object reference is an index for the server to identify the appropriate managed object.

Different ways of getting managed object references:

  • Using constructor

    Typically the client applications use this method only once, during the creation of ServiceInstance managed object. This is necessary since every API invocation requires a managed object reference.

  • Accessing the property of a data object

    Data object can contain managed object references as its properties. Simply using the accessor method for that property can fetch the managed object reference.

  • Invoking an API

    When an API is invoked, it can return a managed object reference.

  • Using the property collector

    Property collector provides a way to retrieve and monitor properties of managed objects and the managed object references.

  • Using SearchIndex APIs

    SearchIndex APIs (findByDnsName, findByIp etc.) can return a managed object references.

All the clients start with creating ServiceInstance managed object reference using the constructor. This is used to obtain ServiceContent data object. ServiceContent data object contains the managed object references to all the top level controller (service provider) objects. Most of them of are singleton, and the reference guide contains more details about these. Some examples:

rootFolder – managed object reference to the top of the inventory

sessionManager – managed object reference for managing client session

propertyCollector – session specific managed object reference for retrieving and monitoring the properties of managed objects

Every client program goes through the following steps in order perform any function using the vSphere APIs.

  • Create an instance of ServiceInstance managed object
  • Connect to the web service port
  • Obtain ServiceContent data object using the ServiceInstance managed object reference (using retrieveServiceContent API)
  • Establish session with the vCenter Server / ESX host using the login API. The ServiceContent data object contains managed object references to all of the controller objects required for invoking any API
  • Use the appropriate controller object to invoke the right API
  • Terminate the session using the logout API

Code snippets in Java illustrating the aforementioned steps:

//Create an instance of the ServiceInstance managed object

ManagedObjectReference siMoref = new ManagedObjectReference();



//Connect to the web service port

VimServiceLocator locator = new VimServiceLocator();


VimPortType vimPort = locator.getVimPort(new URL(https://<HOST_NAME or IP>/sdk));

//Retrieve ServiceContent data object

ServiceContent sc = vimPort.retrieveServiceContent(siMoref);

//Establish session with the server (vCenter or ESX)

vimPort.login(sc.getSessionManager(), user, password, “en”);

//After establishing session any API can be invoked. For simplicity we invoke the current server time.

//The API required passing a managed object reference and the invocation fails if the session is not established.

Calendar cal = vimPort.currentTime(SIMO_REF);

//Terminate the session


Here is a simple vSphere API client program written in Java to retrieve the current time from the server with all the aforementioned steps. You can replace getCurrentTime method in the attached code sample with any other method to invoke any API or you can add any number of methods to invoke any API.

The following code sample is created using vSphere Web Services SDK 4.0. You can use the jar files in the lib directory of the SDK distribution to compile and run it.

Download GetCurrentTime

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