Add VM Custom Annotation and Create a Report on Annotations

Add Custom Attributes for Notes Annotation

A request to add custom attributes for Virtual Machines when using the fat client. (Web client in 5.1 and 5.5 requires a plugin, see “vsphere-web-client-plugin-for-custom”) 6.0 doesn’t see the attributes in the Web Client, 6.5 does, see the 6.5 KB.

Fields required : Applications, Company Name, Owner, Role, VM Cost

Code Below

Connect-VIServer VC6.test.domain
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Company Name” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “VM Cost” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Role” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Owner” -TargetType VirtualMachine
New-CustomAttribute -Name “Applications” -TargetType VirtualMachine
disconnect-VIServer VC6.test.domain -Confirm:$false


Add the details required


Bulk Virtual Machines Deployment and Zero Clicks Part 1

Add additional code code to add annotation in to the bulk script

$companyname = $item.companyname
$applications = $item.applications
$owner = $item.owner
$role = $item.role
$cost = $item.cost

#Get the Specification and set the Nic Mapping
New-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Spec $custspec -IpMode UseStaticIp –Position 1 -IpAddress $ipaddr -SubnetMask $subnet -DefaultGateway $gateway -Dns $pdns,$sdns

#Create VM using Template with the adjusted Customization Specification
New-VM -Name $vmname -Template $template -Datastore $datastore -VMHost $vmhost -ResourcePool $resourcepool | Set-VM -OSCustomizationSpec $custspec -Confirm:$false

#Set the Network Name
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Get-NetworkAdapter | Set-NetworkAdapter -NetworkName $vlan -Confirm:$false

#Set the CPU and Memory
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Set-VM -MemoryGB $ram -NumCPU $cpu -Confirm:$false

#Set some custom attribute fieds
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “VM Cost” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Role” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Owner” -TargetType VirtualMachine
#New-CustomAttribute -Name “Applications” -TargetType VirtualMachine

#Set annotation value for custom attributes
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “CompanyName” -Value “$companyname”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Applications” -Value “$applications”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Owner” -Value “$owner”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “Role” -Value “$role”
Set-Annotation -Entity $vmname -CustomAttribute “VM Cost” -Value “$cost”



RV Tools can be used to produce an MS Excel file to output a list of virtual machines and custom annotations RV Tools download


Alternative Report function used

Function Code Below
(greg-get-annotations tested successfully in our lab)……………….

function greg-get-annotations {
<# .DESCRIPTION Greg-get-annotations function stores information about annotation fields for vms in given cluster or in all clusters in VC. It stores the result in an arraylist $vms, you can either create a csv report from this object or display it on screen greg-get-annotations |export-csv -NoTypeInformation c:\file1.csv will export it to csv file etc… greg-get-annotations |format-table VMname,Cluster,CreatedOn,Notes will just display on screen a table with annotations that include : vm name, its cluster and field “CreatedOn” and Notes   .PARAMETER clustername Specifies the clustername against wchi report will be built   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations -clustername ‘cluster01’|Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv Will procude report on vms that resides in ‘cluster01’ and store it in csv file   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations -clustername ‘cluster01’|ft * Will procude report on vms that resides in ‘cluster01’ output it to screen   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations |Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv Will procude report on vms that resides in all clusters and output it to screen   .EXAMPLE greg-get-annotations Without specified -clustername switch, it will do report regarding all clusters in VC   .NOTES AUTHOR: Grzegorz Kulikowski LASTEDIT: 05/30/2011     #>
param ([string]$clustername)
if(!($clustername)){$clusters=Get-Cluster}else{$clusters=Get-Cluster $clustername}
$VMs=New-Object Collections.ArrayList
foreach ($cluster in $clusters)  {
foreach ($vmview in (get-view -ViewType VirtualMachine -SearchRoot $ {
$vm=New-Object PsObject
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name VMname -Value $vmview.Name
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name Notes -Value $vmview.Config.Annotation
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name Cluster -Value $cluster.Name
foreach ($CustomAttribute in $vmview.AvailableField){
Add-Member -InputObject $vm -MemberType NoteProperty -Name $CustomAttribute.Name -Value ($vmview.Summary.CustomValue | ? {$_.Key -eq $CustomAttribute.Key}).value
return $VMs

greg-get-annotations |Export-Csv c:\annotation-report.csv


CSV Out Put



Bulk Virtual Machines Deployment and Zero Clicks Part 1

A recent project revisited deploying virtual machines via PowerCli. Its fair to say this isn’t a new tool but sometimes over looked.

Part 1 /  Part 2

My requirements were to deploy :

  • 100+ virtual machines (within a few hours)
  • domain join all machines
  • license the OS
  • various virtual machine specifications
  • various Windows OS versions.
  • to two different data centers within a linked vCenter setup
  • to resource pools
  • to different data stores
  • to different networks


The constraints:

  • vSphere 6.0 update 2
  • no budget for third party automation tools
  • small window of opportunity to deploy the VMs


On the plus side there was:

o    Loads of available CPU and RAM
o    Large datastores presented
o    Subnets prepared
o    Stretched VLANs across Data Centers


The tools I used to the task

  • Excel (CSV)
  • Notepad++
  • PowerCLi


The CSV file example

# Example Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv

Template Datastore VMhost Custspec VMname IPaddress Subnet Gateway
2012_Template Storage1 ESXi.domain 2012_Spec test2003VL1
PDNS SDNS ResourcePool RAM CPU VLAN Size Format resource1 2 2 VM Network 10 thin


The Script

# Automate the deployment of customised virtual machines deployed in vSphere 6.0. Tested against u2
# Prereq’s
# 1) Populate the a CSV file called Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv
# 2) Create a Windows Server template
# 3) Create a customization spec within vSphere for Windows
# 4) Run Bulk_VMs_Deploy.ps1 script via PowerCli as administrator (CSV file must be stored in the same location where the script is run from)
if ( !(Get-Module -Name VMware.VimAutomation.Core -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) ) {

###### IMPORTANT, Check this file path is correct##########
. “C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\PowerCLI\Scripts\Initialize-PowerCLIEnvironment.ps1”
Connect-VIServer VC6.test.domain
#connect to a VC. This also works with Linked VC’s
$vmlist = Import-CSV .\Bulk_VMs_Deploy.csv
foreach ($item in $vmlist) {

#set variables to read from CSV
$template = $item.template
$datastore = $item.datastore
$vmhost = $item.vmhost
$custspec = $item.custspec
$vmname = $item.vmname
$ipaddr = $item.ipaddress
$subnet = $item.subnet
$gateway = $item.gateway
$pdns = $item.pdns
$sdns = $item.sdns
$resourcepool = $item.resourcepool
$cpu = $item.cpu
$ram = $item.ram
$vlan = $item.vlan
$size = $item.size
$format = $item.format

#Get the Specification and set the Nic Mapping
New-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Spec $custspec -IpMode UseStaticIp –Position 1 -IpAddress $ipaddr -SubnetMask $subnet -DefaultGateway $gateway -Dns $pdns,$sdns

#Create VM using Template with the adjusted Customization Specification
New-VM -Name $vmname -Template $template -Datastore $datastore -VMHost $vmhost -ResourcePool $resourcepool | Set-VM -OSCustomizationSpec $custspec -Confirm:$false

#Set the Network Name
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Get-NetworkAdapter | Set-NetworkAdapter -NetworkName $vlan -Confirm:$false

#Set the CPU and Memory
Get-VM -Name $vmname | Set-VM -MemoryGB $ram -NumCPU $cpu -Confirm:$false

#Additional Disk
#Get-VM -Name $vmname | New-HardDisk -CapacityGB $size -StorageFormat $format -Confirm:$false

#Remove the NicMapping
Get-OSCustomizationSpec $custspec | Get-OSCustomizationNicMapping | Remove-OSCustomizationNicMapping -Confirm:$false

#PowerOn VM
Start-VM $vmname

#Disconnect from VC.
disconnect-VIServer VC6.test.domain -Confirm:$false



Disclaimer Please take the code and evolve it into a different project? Credit / Tag me on your project Twitter #StephenHackers

Any use of this code is at your own risk. Remember bulk automation jobs require the right resources to be available.

This project & code was based on :
Which progressed to :

Part 1 /  Part 2

Learn NSX  Day 6 : NSX and Logical Switches

Replication Modes on Logical Switches

logical-switch options
logical-switch options


Broadcast (BUM)
Hybrid Mode Logical Switch




Sort of utilises both Unicast and Multicast traffic


Unknown Uni-cast replication


Reason to use :
Opposite to Multicast. Separation of the Physical and Logical networks
No PIM or IGMP on physical network. Non-ESXi don’t receive BUM option
Configurable in the Transport Zone (VTEPS Send Uni-cast and can remote proxy in transport zone)

Multicast Replication


Reason to use :
NSX relies on Layer 2 and Layer 3 multicast for physical network for VXLAN encapsulated multi destination is sent to all VTEPS
(page  26) 
Required PIM and L3 multicasting routing
Least amount of bandwidth used on physical network architecture


Logical Switches

Prep work :
Config VXLAN tunnel endpoint (VTEP) VLAN on trunk in physical switches

A good article on logical switching and transport zones was available this page by  Alex Hunt – Logical Switching and Transport Zones 

Spine – Leaf architected networks


A great description by Ethan Banks below :
“In modern data centers, an alternative to the core/aggregation/access layer network topology has emerged known as leaf-spine. In a leaf-spine architecture, a series of leaf switches form the access layer. These switches are fully meshed to a series of spine switches.

Network overlays such as VXLAN are common in highly virtualized, multi-tenant environments such as those found at Infrastructure as a Service providers. Arista Networks is a proponent of layer 3 leaf-spine designs, providing switches that can also act as VXLAN Tunnel Endpoints.” By Ethan Banks


Topics :
Learn NSX – Home
Learn NSX Day 1 : NSX Requirements
Learn NSX Day 2 : NSX Deployment Best Practice
Learn NSX Day 3 : NSX Manager and NSX Controller
Learn NSX Day 4 : NSX Roles
Learn NSX Day 5 : NSX HA, Edge, REST API
Learn NSX  Day 6 : NSX and Logical Switches
Learn NSX Day 7 : Deploying ESXi
Learn NSX Day 8 : vDS (vSphere Distributed Switch)
Learn NSX Day 9 : Load Balancing Feature
Learn NSX Day 10 : Layer 2 Bridging
Learn NSX Day 11 : NSX EDGE
Learn NSX Day 12 : Spoof Guard
Learn NSX Day 13 : Distributed Router and Distributed Logical Firewall
Learn NSX Day 14 : Monitoring
Learn NSX Day 15 : NSX Backups
Learn NSX Day 16 : Useful Commands & Errors


These are notes made during my study of VMware NSX for vSphere. Apologises if any of the detail is incorrect. Hopefully posts under “Learn NSX” help others to start learning about VMware NSX for vSphere.


VMware discussing NSX Notes


  • NSX 201 cross centre metro cluster, data centre migration / DR use case
  • NSX futures – distributed network encryption, management of containers, securing multiple clouds
  • VMware strategy for the cloud native applications and dev ops
  • Deep dive on Photon, lightwave, container management

NSX Discussion
How does NSX protect against bank attach or Twitter hack

NSX micro segmentation (isolation of apps)  ..DFW

3rd party integration like trend , Mcafee .. Steer traffic for layer 7 traffic.. For malware inspection.. Security tag VM.. It tells NSX to automate a policy, possible a quarantine policy

3rd party’s develop the tags ( protects against bank attach or Twitter hack etc ). NSX relies on the 3rd party NSX tags to apply a policy. NSX does have some features for tagging using activity monitoring an VM tools. VM tools can see what is running within the VM.

DMZ anywhere .. How long to provision a VM web facing and secure. NSX can spin it up instantly.

Secure user environment ..

Overlay virtual networking ( abstract )
Stretch across sites
Tunnelling ( change from vLans etc )
Logical layer 2. Packet in envelope. Encapsulate the traffic.

NSX is distributed across hosts rather than all going via a central physical firewall.

Develop cloud – Strategy vRealise but also others such as openstack
Others doing networks , Neutron in theory not as scale able. Challenge is abstraction layer.

Time to setup a PoC!!!

VMware do a NSX 2 day training


Containers – Cloud Native Apps

Contains, Windows 2016 ,G1 -> G2 -> G3 photon
Challenges with containers
Containers sit in the same user space on the same VM. Deploy multiple containers only appear as one VM in vcentre.

PowerCLI – Setup Host networking and storage ready for ISCSI LUNs

Useful script. Additional details and screen shots can be found using the following link

Script below provided by @Saintdle

( All scripts should be tested in a Lab environment only )

#Setup which host to target
$VMhost = ‘hostname’

#Create vSwitch2 for storage, add vmnics, add two vmkernels with Storage IPs, setup NIC teaming (based on the fact you probably have vSwitch0 for mgmt and vSwitch1 for VM traffic)

$vswitch2 = get-vmhost $VMhost | new-virtualswitch -Name vSwitch2 -Nic ‘vmnic2′,’vmnic5’ -Mtu 9000 -NumPorts 120

New-VMHostNetworkAdapter -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -portgroup iSCSI_ESX_01 -ip IP_ADDR -subnetmask SUBNET_MASK -Mtu 9000

New-VMHostNetworkAdapter -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -portgroup iSCSI_ESX_02 -ip IP_ADDR -subnetmask SUBNET_MASK -Mtu 9000

Get-VirtualPortGroup -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -Name iSCSI_ESX_01 | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive vmnic2 -MakeNicUnused vmnic5

Get-VirtualPortGroup -VMhost $VMhost -virtualswitch $vswitch2 -Name iSCSI_ESX_02 | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive vmnic5 -MakeNicUnused vmnic2

#Create Software iSCSI Adapter

get-vmhoststorage $host | set-vmhoststorage -softwareiscsienabled $True

#Get Software iSCSI adapter HBA number and put it into an array

$HBA = Get-VMHostHba -VMHost $VMHost -Type iSCSI | %{$_.Device}

#Set your VMKernel numbers, Use ESXCLI to create the iSCSI Port binding in the iSCSI Software Adapter

$vmk1number = ‘vmk1’
$vmk2number = ‘vmk2’
$esxcli = Get-EsxCli -VMhost $VMhost
$Esxcli.iscsi.networkportal.add($HBA, $Null, $vmk1number)
$Esxcli.iscsi.networkportal.add($HBA, $Null, $vmk2number)

#Setup the Discovery iSCSI IP addresses on the iSCSI Software Adapter

$hbahost = get-vmhost $VMhost | get-vmhosthba -type iscsi
new-iscsihbatarget -iscsihba $hbahost -address IP_ADDR

#Rescan the HBA to discover any storage
get-vmhoststorage $VMhost -rescanallhba -rescanvmfs

Trouble shooting a Disconnected Host in VMware vCenter

When your ESXi hosts are all setup up in vCenter and using HA and DRS but a blip happens, the power goes or  a host has a moment “not responding”.

disconnected host

In this  scenario we powered off the ESXi host.

What can you check?

Possible options. Try reconnecting the host if there has been no other changes

normal state reconnect

Watch the status bar for progress

Reconnecting host

What if it fails to connect like in the image below

failed to connect

  1. Don’t forget a few basic connectivity checks like…Can you ping the host?
  2. Can you connect to the ESXi host by DNS name or IP & local user and password using the vSphere client?
  3. Can you connect to any VMs which were / are still running on the disconnected host?
  4. Can you restart the management service on the ESXi host?
  5. Can you ilo to the ESXi host? Any errors /events logged on the host
  6. Any network switch down?
  7. Any SAN issues?

These are just a rough guide, it is no responsibility of the Author if you try any of these actions. Try at your own risk.

VMware vCenter 5 – NFC Server error


NFC Error

In vSphere 5 we moved an ISO from a local drive to a datastore using the VMware Infrastructure Client. Upon instigating the upload it immediately failed.

Error message :  Failed to log into NFC server.

Possible DNS issue with servers for the host?

We found missing DNS entries for the ESXi hosts. The servers specified were referencing DNS IP addresses that had no entries for the ESXi hosts being administered.

VMware ESXi 5.1update3 and deploying Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64

Deploying a Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64 virtual machine on ESXi 5.1update3.  

The “Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64” OS options is not available in the drop down list when trying to deploy a new VM from the vSphere client.

Just to confirm, it is supported in ESXi 5.1 update 3 (others might say update 2). (See VMware compatibility guide )

However, to deploy with the option to select Red Hat Linux Enterprise 7 x64 for the OS, you will need to deploy from the web client and not the usual vSphere client.

Just tested with web client with SSO an the VM deployed successfully.

Useful 5.5 article