Configure vSphere Tags Across Multiple vCenters using PowerCLI

vSphere Tags are something I didn’t use very often until I started using vROps. In vROps, it’s possible to create a Custom Group based on the vSphere tag which can really speed up the creation of those Custom Groups. In a large environment, however, it can be a real chore to create and assign tags on lots of objects in multiple locations. Using PowerCLI, we can easily create and assign tags across multiple vCenters.

Connect to All Your vCenters

You might have a more sophisticated way of doing this already, but I have a text document with all my vCenter IPs and simply import them using get-content and then connect to all of them, like so:

$vcenters = Get-Content c:\vcenters.txt
$creds = Get-Credential
Connect-VIServer $vcenters -Credential $creds

I have this saved as a poweshell script, so when I need to connect I just run connect-vcenters.ps1 and off we go!

Create Tag Category

Before you can create a tag, you have to create a tag category. There’s already an excellent write up on tags and PowerCLI on the official VMware blog, so I won’t restate it. This step is easy because it works across multiple vCenters, so all you’ve got to do is run it the same way you would against a single vCenter:

New-TagCategory –Name "vROps Custom Group" -Description "vROps Custom Group Membership" -Cardinality multiple

This line will provide a generic tag category you can use to define vROps Custom Group membership. You’ll notice I omit the switch EntityType so that we can use this category against any object in vCenter. I also set Cardinality to multiple in case a single object needs to be a member of multiple Custom Groups.

Create Tag

Next you’ll need to create a tag in the category you just created. This is trickier, because the New-Tag commandlet does not work against multiple vCenters. To account for this, I put it in a loop for each vCenter:

foreach ($vcenter in $vcenters) {New-Tag -name "GroupName" -Category "vROps Custom Group" -Server $vcenter}

You’ll need to define your own group name, but now you’ve created a tag ready to use in all of your vCenters.

Assign Tags

Here was the real fun part. New-TagAssignment also doesn’t work with multiple vCenters. So if you want to assign a tag to a list of VMs, you need to know the vCenter name and pass it through with the -Server switch. When I was figuring this out, I was trying to assign tags to a list of VMs which didn’t include their vCenters. To make a long story short, here’s how you do it!

#Import your list of VMs, then Get-VM on all of them
$vmlist = get-content c:\vmlist.txt
$vms = Get-VM $vmlist
#Loop through each VM, assign the tag
foreach ($vm in $vms) { $vm | New-TagAssignment -tag "GroupName" -Server (([uri]$vm.ExtensionData.Client.ServiceUrl).Host)}

([uri]$vm.ExtensionData.Client.ServiceUrl).Host was the the real gold find for this task. Get-VM doesn’t have an obvious property for the parent vCenter, but it exists in (Get-VM).Client. You can see it here as a property of a VM variable in PowerGUI:


Full disclosure: I did not discover this on my own. I received help on the PowerCLI channel of the VMware{code} Slack group, which I highly recommend that you join!

Create Custom Group in vROps

Anyway, that’s how you know what vCenter the VM belongs to, and how you can pass it into the -Server switch. Once you’ve done, that you can go into vROps and create a custom group full of VMs based on their tag:


And that’s all there is to it! Now you have a Custom Group in vROps with membership defined by a vSphere Tag!

Written on April 4, 2017