Access to VM Console without the vSphere Client
How can I grant access to the console of a VM to an end user without requiring them to install the vSphere client? How do I grant one of our vendors or partners access to the console of a VM without allowing them to see all of our guests?. I see questions like these pop up on the VMTN forums over and over again and I always answer it the same. Generate a VMware Remote Console URL! Or I guess a Virtual Machine Shortcut would be the official wording for it. Basically a Virtual Machine Shortcut is simply a URL that you can generate through vCenter Web Access which would allow anyone(with authentication of course) to connect to the console of a VM using only a supported browser. Now I say supported browser due to the fact that a plug-in needs to be installed in order to view the VM console. Currently supported browsers include only Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. I'm not even sure of the versions that are required as I can't seem to find any documentation around the plug-in itself. The end user will also need to have valid permissions set up within vCenter on the targeted VM. As long as the end user meets those two requirements then actually generating the URL is pretty simple and straightforward. And here's how…
Login to the vCenter Web Access by pointing your browser to https://ip-of-your-vcenter-server/ and select the 'Log In To Web Access' link in the top right hand corner.
From here, after you are logged in you will have to navigate on the left hand side through your datacenters and folders until you locate and select the VM you would like to grant access to. Once the VM is selected you should see the 'Generate Virtual Machine Shortcut' option under the commands section on the summary tab.
Once the Generate shortcut link is clicked you will be presented with the actual URL and a few options. Here is where you can do things like hide the event log of the selected virtual machine, as well as limit the view to that Virtual Machine only, and obscure the URL that it generates as well to make it harder to guess.
Simply send this URL to your end user and once they have entered this address into a browser they should be good to go and you should be happy that your work is done. All they need to do is copy/paste that URL into either IE or Firefox and they should be presented with the console of the VM.
What I'm not sure of, and might be a good idea to have, is the ability to have these URLs expire or time-out. I don't think you would want them just hanging around forever.