vCLI is not a command set but a package of several command sets.

You usually install vCLI on an administration server and run scripts from there against other hosts or, for DCLI, against vCenter Server systems. Some vCLI commands can also be run locally on the ESXi host or the vCenter Server system.

When you install the vCLI package, the following command sets become available.

DCLI commands - These commands are available as part of vCLI, from the vCenter Server Appliance, and from the command-prompt of a vCenter Server Windows installation.

Host Management commands - Includes the following command sets.

ESXCLI commands - The ESXCLI commands included in the vCLI package are equivalent to the ESXCLI commands available in the ESXi Shell.

vicfg- commands - The vicfg- command set is similar to the deprecated esxcfg- command set in the ESXi Shell. vicfg- commands are still included in this release but are deprecated. Migrate to ESXCLI where possible.

Miscellaneous commands - A small set of commands for managing and monitoring ESXi hosts, including vmkfstools and resxtop . In many cases, equivalent but slightly different commands are available in the ESXi Shell.


ESXi Shell is intended for experienced users only. Minor errors in the shell can result in serious problems. Instead of running commands directly in the ESXi Shell, use vCLI or PowerCLI.

You can run vCLI commands from a Windows or Linux system, or use vMA.

Install the vCLI command set on the Windows or Linux system from which you want to administer your ESXi systems and run vCLI commands. See Installing vCLI.

Deploy a vMA virtual machine to an ESXi system and run vCLI commands from there.

After you have installed the vCLI package, you can run the host management commands in the set against ESXi hosts. You can run the DCLI commands against a server by specifying the IP address or host name and can manage the services associated with that server.

You must specify connection parameters when you run a vCLI command. The connection parameters differ for DCLI commands and for other commands. See Running vCLI Host Management Commands and Using DCLI Commands.