One of the great things about virtualization is that because objects such as virtual machines are contained in a virtualized infrastructure, seemingly big tasks can be done quite easily and leverage one of many automation techniques.

Recently, I was talking to someone about the many great things you can do with vSphere PowerCLI, the PowerShell extension for vCenter Server, and it became clear that the person wasn’t comfortable with PowerCLI just yet. It’s a fair point, PowerShell and related automation techniques are very powerful and can be destructive if things go wrong. If you want to see PowerCLI and other automation scripts in action, you should check out Alan Renouf’s Virtu-Al site and William Lam’s Virtually Ghetto. These are two of the best resources in the world for practical real-world script resources.

But, for many, PowerShell and script-based automation isn’t palatable just yet. For VMware vSphere environments, there is a scheduled task engine that can help out in situations like this. The scheduled task engine will do pre-defined tasks in the vSphere environment automatically and are easy to set up via a wizard. The scheduled tasks list is in the Management section of the vSphere Client and is shown in Figure A below:

Figure A

Available scheduled tasks in the vSphere Client

These tasks can align to business-related functions such as a decommissioning of an old VM, moving VMs around, and deploying new resources. In my experience, I used scheduled tasks to remove development systems. When a developer needed a VM for a task, I’d issue it for 45 days or some other specified number. When that time-frame expired, I had scheduled emails reminding the developer of this upcoming event and lastly a scheduled task to power down the VM and move it into a folder that was a queue of VMs to be deleted.

There are a number of ways you can use a scheduled task to round out your vSphere practice, even if automation such as PowerShell isn’t something you are comfortable with just yet.

Do you use vSphere scheduled tasks? If so, which ones are your most frequently used and how do you use them? Share your comments below.