Tonight I have published a new version of the VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack. This release (version 2.4.0) is the first release that provides near 100% feature parity between both PowerGUI and the Virtualization EcoShell. I say near 100% feature parity because PowerGUI supports displaying progress dialogs during calls to Write-Progress but the Virtualization EcoShell does not, so PowerGUI users have a minor leg up over the Virtualization EcoShell experience. Depending on what environment you are coming from, you will notice some of the following improvements to this PowerPack:
- Visio 2010 support for vDiagram functionality
- Charts for virtual machines, datastores, and resource configuration data
- Progress bars during the rendering of diagrams created with the vDiagram functionality
- Improved layout in the nodes in the tree
- Simplified connection logic, making it easier for you to reuse scripts generated by the PowerPack
- Additional minor bug fixes
Note that version 4.1 of the VMware PowerCLI is not supported with this release at this time, due to a number of issues. For now the only supported version of the VMware PowerCLI is version 4.0 U1.
If you are an existing user of this PowerPack, you will automatically get notified about the new version. If you haven’t looked at this PowerPack yet and you manage VMware vSphere, Virtual Center, ESX, or ESXi hosts, I strongly encourage you to give this PowerPack a try. You can download it here. It provides an excellent management experience over those VMware hosts, and it’s free!
As usual, many of the enhancements we add in these releases are based on customer feedback on the PowerGUI Forums. If you’d like to see more improvements to this PowerPack, please speak up and let us know on the forums. We’re always listening!
UPDATE 10-JAN-11: To deal with the issues identified below, I published a beta version of the VMware vSphere PowerPack with PowerCLI 4.1 or later support. You can read more about the beta and how to install it here.
Earlier this week, VMware released version 4.1 of the PowerCLI. This release brings some great improvements that the community has been waiting for, and you can read about them on the VMware PowerCLI site and a number of other blogs that have been publicizing the release. I’m not here to talk about the new features and improvements however. I’m writing this to notify you about the breaking changes that were introduced in this release that haven’t been discussed externally but that you will want to know about.
With version 4.1 of the PowerCLI, the VMware team has changed the namespaces used in the object model behind the PowerCLI. The objects themselves have stayed the same, but the namespaces have changed. This change has a number of impacts once PowerCLI 4.1 is installed, including but not limited to the following:
- Any PowerShell function that uses strongly typed parameter names with the VMware PowerCLI 4.0 or earlier type names will no longer function properly without an update.
- Any PowerShell script that uses the is or as operators with the VMware PowerCLI 4.0 or earlier type names type names will no longer function properly without an update.
- Any PowerGUI extensions (read: PowerPacks) written for PowerCLI 4.0 or earlier will no longer function properly without an update.
- Any PowerShell scripts that use the VMware PowerCLI 4.0 or earlier type names inside of Add-Type calls will no longer function properly.
In general, any code or script written that is dependent on these type names will have issues once you upgrade to PowerCLI 4.1. It also means that once these items that don’t work with 4.1 are updated, they may no longer work with PowerCLI 4.0 and earlier. Also note that these are just PowerShell-related impacts. If you’re using other languages to manage or automate VMware you need to be aware of the impacts for those languages as well. Here are a few PowerShell-specific examples of the impact of these breaking changes:
- The PowerCLI Community Extensions won’t work with PowerCLI 4.1 until they have been updated, and once they have been updated they will not work with PowerCLI 4.0 and earlier as long as they continue to use strongly typed parameter names (which they should).
- Scripts on PoshCode like this one and this one will suffer the same fate since they use strongly typed parameters in the advanced functions.
- Blog posts like this one from Glenn Sizemore and this one by Maish Saidel-Keesing will only work with PowerCLI 4.0 and earlier unless they are updated.
- The VMware Infrastructure PowerPack for PowerGUI and the Virtualization EcoShell will return data from the nodes, however actions will not appear and icons and charts will not show up in the grid.
- The VMware Community PowerPack for PowerGUI and the Virtualization EcoShell will return data from the nodes, however actions will not appear and icons and charts will not show up in the grid.
- Any blog posts that mentions PowerCLI object types will now be out of date.
- Books like this one will contain examples that are now broken.
As you can see, the PowerCLI 4.1 release comes with changes that are pretty far reaching, and they are definitely going to cause confusion in the community. Unfortunately, since these changes are now in the wild, we’re at a fork in the road where some community contributions will only support 4.0 and earlier for a while and others, as they start supporting 4.1 and later, may only support 4.1 and later depending on how they add that support. Changes like this are never fun, so please be aware of these changes when considering when to upgrade PowerCLI in your environment. As far as the PowerPack issues go, we will add support for the PowerCLI 4.1 release to the VMware Infrastructure PowerPack soon, but it will take a little while for us to work out the details and do the appropriate testing. Until then, please don’t upgrade the PowerCLI on your systems where you use the VMware Infrastructure PowerPack. Thanks, Kirk out.
Wow, have I been busy. In case you hadn’t noticed from my blog posts late last year and early this year, I’ve been working very hard at putting together multiple back-to-back updates for the VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack for the past several months. This has involved working long hours with many thousands of lines of PowerShell script and figuring out how to do some really cool things with both PowerShell and VMware’s PowerCLI (formerly known as the VI Toolkit). The end result is always fulfulling, and I’m usually pretty good at setting up the really cool functionality so that I can leverage it in any PowerPack so all my hard work pays off in the long run.
A few weeks ago I finished off yet another update with some really cool new features, however this update isn’t available for the PowerGUI admin console just yet. That update is coming shortly after we release the next version of PowerGUI, which has some functionality that it is dependent on. If you can’t wait until then though, you can take a look at the new functionality now as part of the first public beta release of the Virtualization EcoShell that came out on April 15th.
What is the Virtualization EcoShell? The Virtualization EcoShell is a project started by Scott Herold that was designed to provide an administrative experience that is tailored for virtualization administrators. It is powered by PowerGUI and comes with a script editor and an admin console just like PowerGUI. The out of the box experience is different though because it doesn’t come with PowerPacks for Exchange and Active Directory. Instead it includes functionality that virtualization administrators care most about. At the moment this is simply the VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack, but over time this will grow to include other virtualization-related administrative functionality (think: additional VMware features, functionality to work with virtualization platforms from other vendors, and capabilities to extend into important technologies surrounding virtualization such as storage).
If you want a preview of the next generation of the VMware Infrastructure Management PowerPack a little early as well as a look at a new virtualization administration platform, all you have to do is pop over to the Virtualization EcoShell site and download it. You can install and use it side-by-side with PowerGUI, so you won’t need any secondary systems or a VM to run it on either. Once you’ve taken a look, let us know what you think or what you would like to see next on the forums! Your feedback directly influences the features we add, and we’re listening!