There was an internal Socialcast question today in which the answer could be found in my how to identify the origin of a vSphere login article. After responding to the question, I had realized that I wrote that article almost 6 years ago and what is even more crazy is that it is still very applicable today. The article explains how you can identify a vSphere login by enabling the "trivial" logging option in vCenter Server (extremely verbose, so please use with caution). Once enabled, you can go through the vpxd.log file and find things about a user login such as the the IP Address of the client as well as the type of vSphere interface they had used to login to whether that is using the vSphere C# Client or PowerCLI for example. Although this extracted information can be very useful, the process to retrieve this is not very ideal, especially having to increase your vCenter Server logging verbosity to the extreme which can force other more critical log events to roll over.

Given that this article written back when vSphere 4.1 was still the current release, I figure I should give the process another look to see if there was a better method in retrieving this information. While quickly browsing around the SessionManager object and specifically the UserSession property, I noticed there have been quite a few enhancements that were introduced in vSphere 5.1. It looks like you can now easily retrieve things like the User Agent, IP Address of the client as well as the number of API invocations for anyone who is currently logged into a given vSphere environment. Perhaps someone internally saw my blog post and thought it would be useful to add these properties directly into the vSphere API rather than poking around in the verbose logs 😀

To exercise these new vSphere APIs, I have create a quick PowerCLI function called Get-vSphereLogins The script will iterate through all currently logged in vSphere sessions and provide the following output: Username, IP Address, API Count & Login Time. It also excludes the current session initiating the query as well as any of the VC Extension logins. Here is a screenshot of my environment using several different vSphere API interfaces to login to my vSphere environment:

With the information above, not only can you tell who is logging in but also where (IP Address) and most importantly how (User Agent) they are logging in. One thing to be aware of is that the User Agent is not always populated and even if it is, it may not provide you with enough information on the specific interface a given user is logging in from. For example, it looks like a script written using the vSphere SDK for Python does not actually set the User Agent, so it is empty.

Here is an updated table using some of the latest vSphere interfaces to log into a vSphere 6.0 Update 2 environment and their respective observed User Agents:

Interface User Agent
vSphere C# Client VMware vSphere Client/6.0.0
vSphere Web Client VMware vim-java 1.0
vSphere MOB Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_12_1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML like Gecko) Chrome/54.0.2840.71 Safari/537.36
PowerCLI PowerCLI/6.5.0
vSphere SDK for Perl VI Perl
vSphere SDK for Ruby (rbvmomi) Ruby
vSphere SDK for Python (pyvmomi) None

Note: In vSphere 6.5, the User Agent that is returned for the vSphere Web Client session looks to be using web-client/6.5.0

Finally, saving the best for last. The VMware Engineer(s) not only added these new properties into the vSphere API, but they have also made them readily available using the vSphere Web Client. To view all the session information, navigate to your vCenter Server instance and under Manage->Sessions you can get the exact same view as using the vSphere API. By default, the IP Address, User Agent & API Invocations are hidden by default. You just need to right click on the table header and add those additional field as shown in the screenshot below.

Longer term, it would be great to see that each of the "official" VMware CLI/SDKs as well as other interfaces can uniquely identify themselves with a well defined string. This not only helps with understanding the types of tools customers are using but also helps with any types of internal audits customers may require. If you think this would be useful to have, please feel free to leave a comment or any other things you feel would be useful to include.

4 thoughts on “An update on how to retrieve useful information from a vSphere login?

  1. Great article, I have really enjoyed your article . You show how to retrieve useful information from a vSphere login.I was little bit confused about how I can identify a vSphere login and now I completely understood that we can identify a vSphere login by enabling the “trivial” logging option in vCenter Server . It is really helpful. I have done by the help of your article. Thanks for sharing. The way you explained each and everything is really great. Thanks once again .

  2. Hey,

    just in case someone is searching for the user agent of VMware vCenter Converter Standalone:
    It is “VMware-client/5.1.0”.

    I needed this for a vRO workflow today, to distinguish manual VM registrations from converted ones.


    Matthäus Banach

    • …and don’t get irritated by the version number.
      “VMware-client/5.1.0” is even used in vCenter Converter Standalone 6.1.1

  3. Hello

    I would like to ask if is possible to get historical login data via powershell ?

    Thanks in Advance

Thanks for the comment!