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. :)

  • http://www.gabrielchapman.com Bacon_Is_King

    Makes you wonder why they are removing it from vSphere5.
     
    Also you comment section doesn't work in Chrome, well at least it doesnt for me.

    • http://mwpreston.net mwpreston

      Huh? I had no idea they removed it! Maybe they’re assuming people will just use the web client for that sort of thing? Thanks for the comment and I will check out the issues with chrome!

  • http://www.gabrielchapman.com Bacon_Is_King

    I may have jumped the gun on that one because it looks like its now an add-on you have to install onto vCenter:http://virtualisedreality.com/2011/07/15/vsphere-5-new-vsphere-web-client/
    but I'm studying for VCP4 and I recall this in the release notes:
     
    vSphere 4.1 is the last product release for vSphere Web Access. As a best practice, VMware recommends that you use the vSphere Client, which contains all the functionality of Web Access. Because vSphere Web Access is no longer being developed, support for this product is provided on a best effort basis.”.
     
     
     

    • Anonymous

      Huh? Not sure why they would even think of removing it in the first place? Hard to keep up with it all

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ObelixFace Julio Ramos

    Hi there, Mr Preston.
    Mine Web Access requests to login before, however, for a specific VM ( a Demo Environment), i would like to allow, that shortcut powers up that VM?
    Which skills would be require that i get knowledge, before implement?
    This is for Vcenter 4.1.

    • http://mwpreston.net mwpreston

      I think at that point you would be looking at some perl scripting and the sdk’s. good luck ;)