One of the many things we do as TAMs is ensure that our customers don’t have “shelfware” lying around. If we spend money on something, we want to use it, right? What about software or tools that are free or included as part of a purchase, but are not well publicized? As we start a new year, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce some of these free or lesser-known tools, to give them a little time in the spotlight and hopefully help you get even more value out of your VMware® investments.
Hopefully, most of you already know about VMware PowerCLI, our command-line interface that helps us manage our VMware software based on Microsoft PowerShell. Did you know that VMware PowerCLI 6.5 now allows you to run VMware PowerCLI Core from your Linux or Mac OS as well? VMware PowerCLI is constantly receiving updates and additional capabilities. Make sure you’ve got it deployed in your environment. It comes in handy for all kinds of things in day-to-day management of the VMware stack, from reporting to configuration.
Get VMware PowerCLI 6.5 R1 here: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=PCLI650R1&productId=614
VMware vCenter Support Assistant
Did you know that there is a plugin for VMware vCenter™ that helps you gather logs and create support requests? Did you know that the same tool can give you proactive alerts and even a monthly email report on your environment? VMware vCenter Support Assistant™ does all that and more! vCenter Support Assistant also helps you create and manage support requests directly from the vCenter interface. Not only does it allow you to create a request from the vCenter interface, it also allows you to include logs as you create the support request, so no more uploading logs afterward.
Get vCenter Support Assistant here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vcenter-support-assistant.html
VMware Software Manager
Ever download the latest VMware ESXi™ file and forget where you put it? We’ve got a tool to help that as well! Software Manager is a tool we can use to create a central repository for our team to find the latest versions of VMware software. It will also alert you within the tool if a newer version is available to download. This is extra helpful for larger teams—no more duplicate downloads sitting around in multiple places.
Get VMware Software Manager here: http://www.vmware.com/go/download-software-manager-en
VMware vRealize Log Insight
VMware vRealize® Log Insight™ may be more well-known than some of the other tools on this list, but it still has a neat trick up its sleeve. Even if you haven’t purchased vRealize Log Insight separately or as part of a suite, each vCenter license you own is entitled to a 25-OSI pack of vRealize Log Insight. This can be extra handy for troubleshooting smaller environments.
Get vRealize Log Insight here: http://www.vmware.com/go/try-log-insight
VMware vRealize Orchestrator
VMware vRealize Orchestrator™ doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It’s one of the most powerful tools available to VMware administrators, and it doesn’t require any licensing beyond your existing vCenter licenses. In a drag-and-drop graphical user interface, vRealize Orchestrator allows us to create workflows that can automate many of the tasks we do daily. Not only that, but vRealize Orchestrator has a large library of plug-ins available from VMware Solution Exchange that give you additional functionality for third-party software and hardware in your environment. Check out all the plug-ins available here.
Get vRealize Orchestrator here: https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vsphere/6_5
VMware SDDC Management Health Solution
Speaking of the VMware Solution Exchange, there is a really important content pack available for VMware vRealize Operations™. The VMware SDDC Management Health Solution is a content pack that gives vRealize Operations the ability to monitor many VMware solutions. It gives us additional metrics and dashboards in vRealize Operations so that we can monitor the health of our management stack, including vCenter, VMware Virtual SAN™, VMware NSX® for vSphere®, and many parts of the vRealize suite. If you have vRealize Operations , this content pack is a must-have.
Get VMware SDDC Management Health Solution here: https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/products/vmware-sddc-management-health-solution
VMware vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling
If you haven’t already moved to vCenter 6.5 (which has an HTML5 client built in), you might want to check out this Fling. Flings are apps and tools VMware engineers build that provide additional functionality or features under a technical preview license (basically, experiments that shouldn’t be run in production). Flings are a great way to try new features as they are developed. The vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling has been available for a while and allows you to see all the progress being made on the new client alongside your existing vCenter 6.0 deployment. It’s not feature complete in the Fling, but it’s a fun way to see what is coming.
Get the vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling here: https://labs.vmware.com/flings/vsphere-html5-web-client
vCheck is an incredible PowerShell script written by VMware’s own Alan Renouf. The script runs against vCenter and sends an email report to whomever you choose with all kinds of data about your environment. From stale snapshots to hosts with memory overcommitment, this report is very handy. Even if you have vRealize Operations running in your environment, this script is still very useful. The script is published on GitHub so that all the code is available for everyone, and the code is quite modular. You should be able to customize the script very easily. There are also vCheck scripts written for Exchange, VMware vCloud Director®, VMware vCloud® Air™, and even SCVMM.
Get the vCheck script here: http://www.virtu-al.net/vcheck-pluginsheaders/vcheck/
VMware vSphere Replication
Need some help with data protection or disaster recovery? VMware vSphere® Replication™ is an asynchronous VM replication tool integrated into vCenter that allows you to replicate VMs across data centers regardless of the guest OS and all the way down to a five-minute RPO on the latest version. The best part of vSphere Replication is that it comes with your existing vSphere licensing, so there’s no need to buy anything additional.
Get vSphere Replication here: https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vsphere/6_5
Make sure to reach out to your technical account manager if you have further questions about any of these great tools for your environment. Thanks!
Jason Boren has architected, managed, and implemented a wide range of IT systems in his 14 years in this field and loves every day of it. He is currently providing strategic advisory services to customers in regards to their VMware technologies as a Sr. Technical Account Manager.