The release of vSphere 5 brought us many new features and enhancements around the management and operations of our day to day tasks as a VI Admin. I'm slowly but surely trying to have a look at each and every one of these to try and validate whether they are valuable in a production environment or more suited for a home lab or test/dev. Next up is the vSphere Web Client server which essentially provides end-users with an OS independent web based version of the original vSphere Client. Although some new features, such as the vCenter Server Appliance are not quite ready IMO for the production environment I believe VMware hit a homerun with with the Web Client!
Some spots where the Web Client actually provides an improvement IMO are…
- Obviously OS Independent. You can can access this client from your Mac, Linux Box, Tablet. As long as your device supports flash you can run this. Which leads me to my next point…
- Prerequisites – Just Flash! No C++, .net this .net that…just a supported browser (IE and Firefox) No Chrome 🙁 and Flash! That's it!
- The 'Work In Progress' window/widget/component – not sure what they are calling these little windows. The ability to minimize your current task or wizard that you are running through, go do a few other things, and pick it up where you left off. This was something you couldn't do in the vSphere Client (for instance, go look at your storage in the middle of creating a new VM). You can even pick up this task if you log out and log back in!
- Customization of UI – you can customize this to your hearts delight, minimize certain windows, maximize others. Only downfall is it doesn't seem to stick after you logout! 🙁
- It's Sexy! – Lets face it, we all love a great UI! The Web Client is no exception. Built on Adobe Flex framework the client is nicely laid out and very responsive!
There is however a few spots in which the Web Client is lacking; a few that I've noticed so far are listed below…
- No Access to vSphere Permissions – I can't see the ability to add/edit/modify permissions at all from within the web ui.
- Cannot create new Datacenters or Clusters, or subsequently connect new hosts to existing ones.
- No access to apply or generate DRS recommendations. Better make sure you are running in fully automated mode if you plan to use the web client exclusively.
- Cannot really modify any entities except VMs. Meaning you can't change the configuration of a host, switch, cluster, etc. Basically, outside of editing a VM all you can really do is take hosts in and out of maintenance mode!
- No access to maps. I would definitely miss this 🙁
- No way to deploy an ovf – With a lot of VMware's new management products being pushed out in an ovf format the ability to deploy them would be…well…it's a must!
- No access to plugins – No Update Manager, no converter, no VCOPS, etc…
I'm sure there are many more differences, but those are just a few that I've noticed right off the hop. VMware has said that they are going to continue to develop the Web Client and in fact it will eventually replace the vSphere Client so you can bet that all of the features that are in the Windows client will eventually be ported to the Web Client. That being said, out of the box today I think it is still a great resource, especially for users just looking to manage their subset of VMs and not worry about the infrastructure behind it. And for the most part as a VI Admin I believe I can probably perform 80% of my daily tasks from within the Web Client interface. All in all I'd give VMware a thumbs up on the Web Client. This is a very good release for a 1.0 version with a lot the functionality from an application owners perspective built in and will eventually be a full fledged vSphere Client for everyone to use. For more information on how to install and configure the vSphere Web Client check out this post.