vCLI and Lockdown Mode
For additional security, an administrator can place one or more hosts managed by a vCenter Server system in lockdown mode. Lockdown mode affects login privileges for the ESXi host.
You can disable lockdown mode as follows.
To make changes to ESXi systems in lockdown mode, you must go through a vCenter Server system that manages the ESXi system as the user vpxuser.
esxcli --server MyVC --vihost MyESXi storage filesystem list
The command prompts for the vCenter Server system user name and password.
You can use the vSphere Client or vCLI commands that support the --vihost option. The following commands cannot run against vCenter Server systems and are therefore not available in lockdown mode:
If you have problems running a command on an ESXi host directly (without specifying a vCenter Server target), check whether lockdown mode is enabled on that host.
The vSphere Security documentation discusses lockdown mode in detail.