A common request that I have heard from customers is to have the ability to automate vCenter Single Sign-On configurations from a programmatic standpoint. Unfortunately, this is currently not possible today as a public API does not exist for SSO. Having spent some time exploring the underlying vmdir database which is just an LDAP-based system (here & here) and learning about a way to update a particular key per KB2070433 within the vmdir database which I have shown here and I have found here, I wanted to see if it was possible to query for these specific SSO Admin configurations and also be able to update these properties.

Disclaimer: Please take extreme caution when connecting to the vmdird database. You should take extreme care in making changes while in the database else you can negatively impact your environment.

There are three main sections to the SSO Admin configurations that can be seen from the vSphere Web Client:

  • Password Policies
  • Lockout Policy
  • Token Policy

For each section, I have provided the specific ldapsearch query (please refer to this article as per-requisite) which can either be run directly on the VCSA if you are using that or a system that includes the ldapsearch command. You will need to replace the text highlighted in blue with your own environment details.

Password Policies & Lockout Policy

To view the following set of configurations, here is the ldapsearch query to use:

/opt/likewise/bin/ldapsearch -h -w 'VMware1!' -x -D "cn=Administrator,cn=Users,dc=vghetto,dc=local" -b "cn=password and lockout policy,dc=vghetto,dc=local"

Here is a screenshot of the Password Policies as seen in the vSphere Web Client and their corresponding LDAP property names:


UI Setting LDAP Attribute Name
Maximum lifetime vmwPasswordLifetimeDays
Restrict reuse vmwPasswordProhibitedPreviousCount
Maximum lenght vmwPasswordMaxLength
At least special character vmwPasswordMinSpecialCharCount
At least alphabetic character vmwPasswordMinAlphabeticCount
At least uppercase character vmwPasswordMinUpperCaseCount
At least lowercase character vmwPasswordMinLowerCaseCount
At least numeric character vmwPasswordMinNumericCount
Identical adjacent Characters vmwPasswordMaxIdenticalAdjacentChars

Here is a screenshot of the Lock Policy as seen in the vSphere Web Client and their corresponding LDAP property names:


UI Setting LDAP Attribute Name
Maximum number of failed login attempts vmwPasswordChangeMaxFailedAttempts
Time interval between failures vmwPasswordChangeFailedAttemptIntervalSec
Unlock time vmwPasswordChangeAutoUnlockIntervalSec

Token Policy

To view the following configuration, here is the ldapsearch query to use:

/opt/likewise/bin/ldapsearch -h -w 'VMware1!' -x -D "cn=Administrator,cn=Users,dc=vghetto,dc=local" -b "cn=Tenants,cn=IdentityManager,cn=Services,dc=vghetto,dc=local" -s sub "objectclass=vmwSTSTenant"

Here is a screenshot of the Token Policy as seen in the vSphere Web Client and their corresponding LDAP property names:

Token Policy


UI Setting LDAP Attribute Name
Clock tolerance vmwSTSClockTolerance
Maximum token renewal count vmwSTSRenewCount
Maximum token delegation count vmwSTSDelegationCount
Maximum bearer token lifetime vmwSTSMaxBearerTokenLifetime
Maximum holder-of-key token lifetime vmwSTSMaxHolderOfKeyTokenLifetime

Now that we know how to query for a particular SSO Configuration, here is how you can modify one of these properties. In the example below, we will be changing the life time of a password which dictates the frequency in which you need to change an SSO user's password. Using the "Password Policies" table above, we can see the that property name is called vmwPasswordLifetimeDays

To modify an LDAP entry, we will need to first create a file that contains the change, in the example here we are going to name it change.ldif and it should contain the following where the "replace" keyword shows which property is getting modified and the next line after shows the value that it will be changed to.

dn: cn=password and lockout policy,dc=vghetto,dc=local
changetype: modify
replace: vmwPasswordLifetimeDays
vmwPasswordLifetimeDays: 30

To apply the change, we will now run the following ldapmodify command and specifying our change.ldif configuration file:

/opt/likewise/bin/ldapmodify -f change.ldif -h -D "cn=Administrator,cn=Users,dc=vghetto,dc=local" -w 'VMware1!'

If the change was successful, you can confirm by either querying the property again using the ldapquery command or just refreshing the SSO Configurations using the vSphere Web Client.

3 thoughts on “vCenter Server 6.0 Tidbits Part 10: Automating SSO Admin configurations

  1. Thanks for The Great Information. After updating the security token renewal count, is it required to restart the STS services?

  2. What is the equivalent for Windows vCenter 6.0 U3. I am interested in doing some SSO password policies. If you are on single SSO domain with enhance linkmode, do you need to run this command only once or multiple on all PSC instance?

  3. Is for example the “Time interval between failures” setting still not exposed to powerCLi for instance to be changed scripted?

    For some automated hardening checks and compliance it would be great to have some way of setting/reading this programmatically without al the severe warnings, and extreme caution needed?

Thanks for the comment!