What is behind my https://vCenterServer ?

Hello and welcome. I expect that most readers of this post use their vSphere Client to connect to their vCenter Server and perform their daily business. You will probably know that the vCenter Server runs a web server, but do you know that the vCenter Server and also an ESXi host do have a few surprising and useful features?

Let us start and point our (supported) browser of choice to our vCenter Server. In the opening window, VMware presents a comprehensive summary. At this point, I have to admit, in most cases I finished reading at “vSphere Documentation”.

The first option is the vSphere Web Client. Previous versions of vSphere also had some kind of Web access. With vSphere 5, a complete new Web Client was introduced that offered a lot of functionality and even has some features the traditional vSphere Client does not have!

Before you can use the vSphere Web Client, you have to install the server component. See this VMware video for a quick how-to. There are a lot of great videos and blog posts on installing and using this new Web Client, so I will not repeat.

The next option is “Browse Datastores in the vSphere Inventory”. After successful authentication, you can drill down until file level and Save files on your local computer or open with an editor.

The final option from the opening window is the “Browse Objects managed by vSphere”. This option also requires authentication.

To get an idea, under “Properties” click on “Content”. An useful example of the possibilities of this feature.
Recently, I was trying to remove an old vCenter Operations plug-in from vCenter. While doing some research on the web, I stumbled on this post by William Lam, it describes how to unregister an extension with help of the Managed Objects Browser.

Another feature is the “vCenter operational dashboard”.
Enter http://<My vCenter>/vod/index.html, this feature also needs authentication. It’s main function seems to present a lot of vCenter Server statistics. You can also click one of the seven detail pages. For example under “Host status”, you will find info on the Heartbeat status of an ESXi host.

You can also connect your web browser to an ESXi host. The opening window looks very familiar, and offers some additional information concerning vCenter and the CLI tools. You will also find the same options for browsing the Datastores and the Managed Objects.

In case you have the SSH service running on an ESXi host,

try this: https://<ESXi host>/host.

After successful authentication, the ESXi server will present an overview of the available configuration and log files. These files are located in folders like: /etc, /etc/vmware and /var/log

You can inspect important configuration files like “esx.conf” and examine logfiles.

I wonder if vCenter and ESXi have more of these hidden features. I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

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