Cloning a vm from command line whilst keeping the vm running

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I’m trying to backup esxi vms from cli not using snapshots.


We have several vms which run tests round the clock and so downtime needs to be limited.


Environment is ESXi 6.7.0 and vsphere 6.7.0


From the gui I can clone without vm downtime. I’m yet to find a way of doing this via command line so that I can automate the backups


copying the vmdks, vmx via vmkfstools returns “device busy” errors


I’ve downloaded vsphere cli and started to look at the dcli interface which seems to be the api into vsphere but I’m not sure if this can do backups.


It seems like a fairly common thing to want to do but I’ve been stuck on this one for some weeks.  Any advice or ready to go scripts on how to proceed



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