Customizing Win 10 desktop for vSphere and Terraform

In a previous blog we talked about installing Terraform on Windows 10. In this blog we are going to dive a little deeper and get a vSphere provider configured and ready to use from our Windows 10 desktop. To get started we need a way to get into our vSphere server. The easiest way is to log into the web console and get the information from there.

The more difficult way but allows for better automation is to do everything from the command line. Unfortunately, for Windows the default PowerShell version is not supported by the Command Line Module from VMWare and to run PowerCLI we need to upgrade to PowerShell 6 or higher. At the time of this writing PowerShell 7.0.3 was the latest version available. This binary can be downloaded and installed by following the documentation on the Microsoft website and pulling the binary from the official Microsoft github.com location.

The install is relatively simple and takes a minute or two

Once PowerShell 7 is installed we need to install PowerCLI by using an Install-Module command. The format of the command is

Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI

The installation is relatively simple and takes a minute or two to download the code and extract. Once extracted we can connect to the vSphere server.

When it comes to connecting to the server we can have it ask us for the username and password or set these variables as environment variables. In the following video we set the variables $user and $server as well as the $pwd (not shown) then connect to the server using environment variables. When we first connect the connection fails because the SSL certificate on our server is self-signed and not trusted. To avlid this set need to execute the two commands to get a valid connection

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore -Confirm:$false

Connect-VIServer -Server $server -User $user -Password $pwd

From here we can get the DataCenter, Folder structure of the VMs and Templates, as well as the Datastores for this installation.

Getting the parameters that we will need to populate a parameters.tfvars file can be done with the following PowerCLI commands

var.datacenter Get-DataCenter

var.datastore Get-Datastore -Name <name>

var.template_folder Get-Folder -Name “Templates and vCenter”

var.terraform_folder Get-Folder -Name “Terraform”

var.templates Get-Template -Location $var.template_folder

var.terraform_vms Get-VM -Location $var.terraform_folder

From here we have the base level data that we need to populate a parameters.tfvar file and define our datacenter, host, folder structure, datastores, and templates. These are typically relatively static values that don’t change much. At some point we might want to pull in a list of our ISO files to use for initializing raw operating systems. Most companies don’t start with an ISO file but rather a partially configured server that has connections into an LDAP or Active Directory structure as well as the normal applications and security/firewall configurations needed for most applications.

To summarize what we have done is to configure our Windows 10 default terraform desktop so that we can use a browser to pull parameters from a vSphere server as well as script and automate pulling this data from a vSphere server using the PowerCLI Module that runs under PowerShell 6 or 7. We should have access to all of our key data from our vSphere and ESXi server and can populate and create a set of terraform files using variables, data declarations, and resources that we want to create and manage. With this blog we have built the foundation to manage a vSphere or ESXi instance from an HTML browser, a PowerShell command line, or from terraform. The eventual goal is to have terraform do all of the heavy lifting and not enter data like username and password into configuration files so that we can use github for version control of our configuration and management files.

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