Learning the differences between vMA & rCLI

When I posted ESX vs. ESXi – Beyond the blogger opinion people commented that ESXi was the correct way to move forward and that I should get used to it and also prepare myself and my customers. This is the VMware recommendation.

I took it very seriously, as I always do to anything related to my customers. I decided that from that day onwards I would only use vMA and rCLI whenever possible. And I will keep doing it until someone tells me that the Service Console is not going to be removed from ESX anymore.

If you are not familiar with the terms vMA and rCLI read this:

vCLI/RCLI contains a set of scripts (esxcfg-* and others) to help manage your ESX/ESXi hosts, this is primary useful for ESXi where the Service Console no longer exists and allows for remote management. vCLI can be installed on either Windows/Linux or downloaded as a virtual appliance.

vMA/VIMA is RHEL 5 virtual appliance that allows for centralized management of your ESX/ESXi hosts and providing administrators a location where scripts and agents can be written/created to be executed across a set of ESX/ESXi or vCenter servers. The vApp contains not only the vCLI and the vSphere SDK for Perl but also a logging component and authentication component called vi-fastpass which allows for non-interactive login.

After using both for a little while the differences started to appear, so I decided to collect few of them to share with you.

esxcfg-module – Does not allow to unload/load a module via vMA or rCLI. The action is only allowed when connected to the ESXi unsupported console mode.

resxtop – Works only from vMA, not from rCLI.
Update from Carter Shanklin: resxtop works from the Linux version of vCLI (the current name of what used to be RCLI) but not the Windows version.

esxcfg-nas –add – After several tentatives to re-add a deleted NAS datastore only the ESXi unsupported console mode allowed me to complete the action. vMA and rCLI always error as ‘The name ‘datastore’ already exists’.

I’m certain that VMware is working hard on vMA to make it ready for prime time. The last release of vMA was a major step in this direction.


  1. resxtop works from the Linux version of vCLI (the current name of what used to be RCLI) but not the Windows version.

  2. @Carter Shanklin
    Thanks Carter. Nice addition to the list.

  3. There is a great security hardening Perl script for vMA by William Lam.
    Added to my MI5 toolkit!


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