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Unfortunate that VMware haven't thought to build anything into ESX/ESXi that does this natively. Hardware configuration: APC Smart-UPS 1500 connected to the ESXi 5.1 Host via USB. UPS is connected to this VM using ESXi USB pass through option.The Network solution requires that at least one network switch is powered via UPS too. Software configuration: NUT (Network UPS Tools) master running in the VM, and native ESXi NUT slave running on the ESXi host.
The upsd process connects to the UPS through the usbhid-ups driver and monitors the UPS state.This is turn invokes the script on the ESXi host, which signals the VMWare Tools package in each VM on your host to do a clean shut down via the guest OS.In my experience, it works better than the Power Chute software from APC.If you like to monitor things from your VMs, you can setup slave apcupsd instances on them that connect to the master UPS control Linux VM.Your slave files should have an entry like this: You might consider using the USB device passthrough functionality to a guest running Power Chute or other software able to monitor the UPS's health and capable of triggering a shutdown on the ESXi host (e.g. ESXi officially only supports a very limited number of USB devices for passthrough, but people have been attaching and passing through different classes of devices for a while already with varying success, but the APC UPS USB seems to work according to this walkthrough for a Windows VM or this one for a Cent OS Linux VM.
While possible (probably/generally), I don't think an automated shutdown of a computer on battery power is a good idea.