vSphere Upgrade Saga: vSphere Management Assistant Replacement

VMware will be removing the vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) from future versions of vSphere. I, for one, use vMA  quite a bit. However, all hope is not lost. It is pretty easy to build your own version of a vMA. It is even easier now, as I have created an installer.

The vSphere Management Assistant replacement installer will install the following components:

  • vSphere Command-Line Interface (vCLI)
  • PowerCLI Core
  • PowerNSX
  • ovftool (w/ov-import.sh script)
  • Linux version of VMware Software Manager

This is pretty much everything you need to create and manage scripts that work with your vSphere Management tools. The installer can be found at https://github.com/Texiwill/aac-lib/tree/master/base (which is where all my installers are located). Here are the build instructions:

  1. Create a Linux CentOS 7 VM with a minimal install (I use a 100 GB disk, but smaller is fine as long as there is a place to download the software you require).
  2. Log in to the new VM.
  3. Install wget. I use “sudo yum -y install wget” (run using sudo).
  4. Get the installer. I use “wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Texiwill/aac-lib/master/base/aac-base.install” (run as the user).
  5. Upgrade the installer to pull down all the other necessary scripts. “./aac-base.install -u” (run as the user).
  6. Run the installer in manual mode or use the install option to install just the VMA without traversing the menus. “sudo ./aac-base.install -i vma” (run using sudo).

Now, the installer will download and install my port of VSM, which is now the vsm.sh script in /usr/local/bin. It will use VSM to download and install the vCLI, then install PowerShell with PowerCLI and PowerNSX, creating a script named /usr/local/bin/powercli, which you can use to invoke PowerCLI as desired. Lastly, it will install ovftool using the VSM script which includes my ov-import.sh script for importing OVA/OVF files en masse.

Keeping it all up to date is pretty easy, as the scripts were designed to run as many times as you desire. You can easily create a cronjob that will update the aac-base.install scripts, which you can then run periodically to update the entire vSphere Management Assistant replacement, such as a script with the following lines:

./aac-base.install -u
./aac-base.install -i vma

Why VSM?

So, why do I need to use my VSM script to install bits of this new vMA? VMware does not allow anyone outside of a select few to download and install their software as part of other products. The VSM script will ask for your My VMware username and password credentials, just like the Windows version of VSM. It will then allow you to download software you are entitled to download using an official mechanism.

I also found that VSM was not being kept up to date as quickly as I needed it to be. It would periodically have issues with metadata that was missing, yet referenced. So, I created a script that originally  ignored missing bits while allowing for the same features as the Windows VSM.

By now, the features have grown considerably. You can now use the script to find individual files within various VMware products as well as mark a particular product suite as your favorite, then check for updates against that particular suite.  For example, you may wish to ensure that you have all the bits for a given release of vSphere. Like the regular VSM, you can tell the script to ignore or add custom ISOs, drivers and tools, or open source software.

You can read more about my VSM script at https://github.com/Texiwill/aac-lib/tree/master/vsm, which is updated with new information and features.

Why AAC-Base Installers?

Sometimes, you just need to install a specific product or system that has no known orchestrator component, nor any need for use of configuration management. Actually, you may need base installers just to get to the point where you can use such tools.

The AAC-Base installers are just that,  a convenient way to get things installed before your configuration and orchestrator tools take over. In addition, I wrote these tools for me. I wanted something simple. I wanted something repeatable. I wanted something I could easily use.

Since each script is designed to do one thing and one thing very well, the scripts can be used to ensure that things like SELinux and other Linux security measures are met. That was the real reason behind these scripts, as I wanted to use SELinux on all my nodes, but installing third-party software tends to break this requirement. The scripts I have reset the security context of the system after every install or update. They also include any necessary changes to ensure the product works while SELinux is in enforcing mode.

I hope you benefit from these installers and my Linux version of VSM. They can be used to install more than the vSphere Management Assistant replacement.

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is an author, analyst, developer, technologist, and business owner. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and TVP Strategy where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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