PowerCLI Report Tip – Part 1

Introduction

For the last years, I’ve been writing a lot of PowerCLI scripts to automate repeated tasks and produce custom reports for managers to review the infrastructure. For the next 4 series of blog, I will be sharing a number tips on how to write an efficient and tidy scripts.
This will be the first series and it will discuss the ways to improve the performance.
Note: PowerCLI 5.8 Release 1 & vCenter Server 5.5 were used.

Getting Started

Let’s get started with a simple script:

$report = foreach ($vm in (Get-VM -Location (Get-Cluster -Name cluster1))) {
   $vm | Select @{N="ESXi";E={$vm.VMHost.Name}}, Name, NumCPU, MemoryGB, @{N="Datastore";E={ [string]::Join(",", (Get-Datastore -VM $vm | %{$_.Name})) }}
}

An example output is attached below:

ESXi,VM,CPU,Memory,Datastore
ESXi_test1,test1,1,1,datastore1,datastore2,datastore3
ESXi_test1,test2,1,1,datastore1
ESXi_test2,test3,1,4,datastore4,datastore5

For the testing, I selected a cluster with 300 virtual machines to measure how long it takes to run the script above and it took 5 minutes. 5 minutes does look OK, however, how about 2000~3000 virtual machines? It will take about an hour which is very inefficient.

How could we improve the performance?

Trick

Many people might think that saving a full list of output would take longer than applying a filter. For example, Get-Datastore vs Get-Datastore -VM $vm.

Is this the case? Let’s have a look:

  • Get-Datastore => To retrieve 565 datastores, it took 2.2 seconds
  • Get-Datastore -VM “VM” => It took 8 seconds

Surprising result, right? Get-Datastore without a filter is approximately 4 times faster, even it queried for 565 datastores. With this result, it was safe to assume that for the script above, it does Get-Datastore for 300 times which is roughly 300 * 8 = 2400 seconds, about 4 minutes. Sounds about right.

To improve the performance, one of the ways I could came up was to:

  • Save Get-Datastore output in a variable, e.g. $datastore_list = Get-Datastore
  • Utilise the $datastore_list to find which datastores are allocated to virtual machines

This way, instead of executing Get-Datastore 300 times, it will run Get-Datastore once, save the result in a variable and query datastore information from the variable. This does look much more efficient. However, how could we achieve this?

If you look at the properties of Get-VM closely (run Get-VM | Select * to view all properties, this will be discussed in depth on the next series), there is a property called “DatastoreIdList”. Each datastore has a unique datastore id and Get-VM has this datastore id value. This means, we could:

  • Run a foreach loop against DatastoreIdList
  • If datastore ID matches to any datastore id in $datastore_list variable, output

Translating the above into a PowerCLI command:

$datastore_list = Get-Datastore
(Get-VM -Name “VM”).DatastoreIdList | Foreach-Object { $datastore_id = $_; $datastore_list | where {$_.id -match $datastore_id} }

Converting the script in Getting Started section:

$datastore_list = Get-Datastore
$report = foreach ($vm in (Get-VM -Location (Get-Cluster -Name cluster1))) {
   $vm | Select @{N="ESXi";E={$_.VMHost.Name}}, Name, NumCPU, MemoryGB, @{N="Datastore";E={ [string]::Join(",", ( $_.DatastoreIdList | Foreach-Object { $datastore_id = $_; $datastore_list | where {$_.id -match $datastore_id} } )) }}
}

The above script took 27 seconds, producing the same output. This is approximately 20 times faster than the original one.

Wrap-Up

Throughout the blog, it discussed a few ways on how to improve the performance of PowerCLI scripts:

  • Instead of applying a filter, save the whole output
  • Avoid executing a same command over and over
  • Take a closer look at properties to avoid running a command

Hope this helped and on the next series, I will deep dive into properties.

PowerCLI Report Tip – Part 1

4 thoughts on “PowerCLI Report Tip – Part 1

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