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Remote plug-in architecture overview

Contributors netapp-pcarriga

Beginning with NetApp Element Plug-in for vCenter Server 5.0, the plug-in architecture changes from local to remote. With the introduction of the remote architecture, the plug-in is no longer deployed inside a vCenter server. For Element Plug-in for vCenter Server 4.10 or earlier, the plug-in deployment remains local to the vCenter server to which it is registered.

This page describes the implementation of the remote NetApp Element Plug-in for vCenter Server.

The vSphere Client remote plug-in architecture is designed to integrate plug-in functionality into the vSphere Client without having to run inside the vCenter Server. The remote plug-in architecture supports plug-in isolation, enables scale-out of plug-ins that operate in large vSphere environments, and provides the following benefits:

  • The plug-in is protected from interference by unstable or compromised plug-ins loaded on the same vSphere Client.

  • Plug-in compatibility is robust across vCenter Server upgrades.

  • An incompatible plug-in does not interfere with vCenter Server operation.

  • You can deploy a number of plug-in versions within the same vSphere environment.

  • The remote plug-in user interface only needs to communicate with a single back-end server.

  • Deployed plug-in topology is well defined and easy to understand which supports troubleshooting.

Remote Element Plug-in for vCenter Server high level architecture

Using NetApp Hybrid Cloud Control, the remote Element Plug-in is deployed in a docker container inside a management node along with management services.

Remote plug-in high level architecture

The remote Element Plug-in vCenter Server, registration service, and storage I/O control (SIOC) service share the same docker service but listen on different ports.

Description Port

Remote Element Plug-in vCenter Server


Registration service


SIOC Service


Remote Element Plug-in communication paths overview

You must first register the remote plug-in with the vCenter Server using the registration service running on a management node (https://<mnode-ip>:9443/). On the registration page, you can see the vCenter server username, password, and the plugin.json manifest file path.

Note The default path is populated in the UI. No action is required.

If the details provided are correct, the registration service registers the plug-in with vCenter Server and enters the vCenter details in the plug-in server database.

After registration completes, the plug-in server downloads the plugin.json manifest file and initiates the remote plug-in deployment which involves configuring the remote plug-in as an extension with the vsphere-ui client. After the deployment completes, you can access the NetApp Element Remote Plugin extension point from the vsphere-ui web client.

All communication from the plug-in UI occurs through the vCenter Server which runs a reverse proxy service using HTTPS protocol that is responsible for forwarding the requests for the remote plug-in service. The plug-in server interacts with the SIOC service using HTTPS basic authentication and an Element cluster using the Element Java software development kit (SDK).