Part 1: What’s New vSphere5.1: The Web-Client

Part 1: What’s New vSphere5.1: The Web-Client

Main Takeaway: There are MANY new options and features that are ONLY available in the web-client, which are NOT available in the old C# vSphere Client


Before VMworld I spent a good week or more working through the “Launch Readiness” materials for VMworld. It’s been sometime since I did an NDA session with VMware. I’ve been so focused on the SRM and EUC technologies that I hadn’t time to really look at the beta and release candidates. So it was a welcome return to the platform, and it was refreshing to see us continue to refine and approve the technology. Despite my emphasis on “cloud” you can never forget that the underpinning layer remains vSphere.

There’s a number way of handling this subject – going through the components bit by bit – VM, ESX, vCenter, Networking and Storage. I’m going to do that, but before I do I want to draw your attention to something really important, but seemingly trivial - the web-client. I could have one jumbo post that cover absolutely everything but I wanted to break it down to make it a bit modular and easier to navigate.

It’s been around in various guises for sometime, and of course we all know the goal is to replace the C# “vSphere Client” with an Adobe Flex web-client instead. I rather like the old vSphere Client but its important to acknowledge that it was in some large environments a little bit slow to load up. Sometime you would windows that were just white boarders, and the more plug-ins you installed the more you would have to scroll along the tabs to find the tab you needed. Although people do seem to like “tree” architectures – I would find myself clicking backwards and forwards between the four primary views, and endlessly navigating down hierarchies to find the object I was looking for. The web-client has new “flatter” structure that means less navigating up and down those views.

We also have to acknowledge that it was locked to the Windows platform that was at best an irritation to the Apple Mac and Linux communities. I always felt the best route of this bind would be a web-client that works with any web-browser on any OS the admin choses.  You might ask why the web-client is Adobe Air based considering that means you need that software installed as well as web-browser – and why we didn’t level for a HTML5 web-client instead. Answer? Well, HTML5 is still an evolving standard, and put simply different HTML5 web-browser do not deliver a consistent use experience right now. But there’s something more important about this web-client for admins than these rather cosmetic issues.

Firstly, whereas the previous incarnations of the web-client were quite “operator” focused. The new web-client is more focused on the admin who spends their time with full rights to hosts and clusters. So see it less as a VM Operator tool, and more of a vCenter Administrator front-end. Secondly, a great many of the new features are only accessible to the web-client. That’s really the incentive to use it. There will be certain features, components and options that will only be configurable from it (I will be giving detailed examples in this series – in fact the vast majority of my screen grabs come from web-client because of this).  Like any client UI change there’s bound to be that bedding in period as you get used to the new layout. That’s only natural I went through the same experience with VirtualCenter 1.x and Virtual Infrastructure 3. My recommendation is once you have upgraded to vSphere 5.1 is jump right in with both feet. In my experience the fastest way to learning a new UI is to use it. Within a couple of hours or days you’ll be in you element.

The "Object Navigator" view - shows all the objects that make up a vCenter environment in one location...


This is larger scale view of the client itself...

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 09.50.34.png

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