How to Remotely Manage your VMware Servers

Posted on January 8, 2009 by David Davis in VMware with 0 Comments

As soon as you begin using VMware Servers in a production environment you will have a need for remotely managing those VMware servers. Sure you could use remote desktop or something but there are much better tools. As the number of servers grows, the need will grow for a remote management application to administer those servers from your desk or from home. In this article, we’ll discuss and demonstrate the remote management options for VMware Servers.

Which VMware Server platform are we talking about?

In this article, we are talking about the FREE version of VMware, VMware Server. This is not to be confused with VMware ESX and the Virtual Infrastructure (VI) system. With VI, you would very likely use Virtual Center for centralized management.With the FREE version of VMware Server, you have a number of options for remote management.

VMware Server Console

The VMware Server Console is installed, by default with VMware Server. This is the application you usually think of when you think of VMware Server. This is what it looks like:

The Server console can, optionally, NOT be installed on a VMware server if you only plan on managing it remotely. Also, you can choose to install only the VMware server console on another machine (and not install VMware Server). You would then use the VMware Server console to manage a remote server using a username & password. These credentials would just need to be administrator equivalent on the remote system, running VMware.

So, the best free option where you have to install a client to remotely administer VMware is to use the VMware Server Console. In fact, it can even be downloaded separately (including some API tools). In that case, it is called the VMware Server Windows Client package.One disadvantage to the VMware Server console is that you can only work with one virtual host at a time (configuring & administering the multiple virtual guests on that single virtual host).As a side note, VMware Server console uses TCP port 902.

VMware Web Interface / MUI

* MUI REQUIREMENTS: Windows Server with IIS installed or Linux with Apache installed Another option is the VMware web-based interface (called the MUI). With a Windows server this can easily be installed when the server is installed but in Linux it can be a bit more challenging to install.

When you go to install your VMware Server, watch carefully your optional installation components. I recommend choosing Custom installation instead of Complete. This way, you know exactly what you are installing. To install the VMware Server web interface, make sure you check the VMware Management Interface, as you see below.

You should also be aware that the VMware MUI requires Microsoft IIS web server to be installed. After clicking Next on the screen above, if you do not have IIS installed, you will see this message:

To remedy this, you need to cancel the installation, install IIS, and return to the VMware Installation.Microsoft IIS is installed by going to Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs, then going into Windows Components. You want to choose to install IIS.

As I pointed out at the start of this section, Windows Server or Linux is REQUIRED for the VMware Web Interface / MUI. This is because the version of IIS included in Windows XP does not support more than the default website. In other words, it doesn’t support the VMware website that the VMware install tries to install. While there may be some way around like (like running apache on your Windows XP box), I would just recommend either running Windows Server or don’t run the MUI at all (Linux would also work).To access the MUI, you can go to either:



Once installed, the MUI interface looks like this:

As you can see, you can download the VMware Server Console from the Website.

Once logged in, on the main page for the MUI, you get status of your server and your VMs.

When you click on a VM, you can choose to startup/shutdown, make configuration changes or attach to the console. If you choose to attach to the server console, the MUI will provide you a xvm file that will then need to be opened in a local version of the VMware Console.

VMware Virtual Center for Virtual Server

Did you know that you can buy a centralized management application for the FREE VMware server? It is called Virtual Center for Virtual Server. This is not the same as the Virtual Center that is found in VMware Virtual Infrastructure. This Virtual Center can only manage the FREE Virtual Server virtualization product, not VMware ESX. The reverse is true of the VI Virtual Center – it cannot manage the FREE VMware Server.

Virtual Center for VMware Server runs for $1500 for a 3 server license (with 2 CPUs per server). You can also evaluate it for free.If you can afford this product, it is clearly the best option. It provides:

  • Centralized Performance Graphing
  • Centralized Reporting
  • Enhanced alerts and notifications
  • Centralized server configuration
  • Deployment wizard
  • Virtual machine cloning
  • Virtual machine templates

VMware APIs

Alternatives to traditional management applications are using programming and scripting interfaces. There are a number of feature-rich APIs. You can find more information at the VMware Server online documentation and the VMware Developer Resource website.


Remotely managing VMware server is easy if you have the right tools installed and setup ahead of time. If you have multiple machines and are willing to spend some money, the Virtual Center for VMware Server is the best option. On the other hand, if you are willing to manage servers one by one, the VMware Server console or the Web-based interface will work well for that.In this article, we discussed and demonstrated the remote management options for VMware Servers. By knowing all of your options, you can choose the best choice for you and your company. Just remember, there are many more options than using RDP to connect to the server desktop.

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