HTML5 vSphere Web Client vs. the Past

As all software vendors develop management tools to provide the best user experience and deliver more convenient, user-friendly, and platform-independent products, we have witnessed an evolution from Windows-only applications to Web-based, platform-independent ones including HTML5 vSphere Web Client.

Prior to vSphere 5.0 release, there was only one tool for vSphere management provided by VMware – a Windows-based application called vSphere Client. Every new release of vSphere required installing a new version of that client. So, if your environment had vSphere v4.0, v4.1, and v5.0, you’d have to re-install all your clients. In vSphere v5.0, VMware introduced a new, shiny Web client, which was intended to replace the Windows-based vSphere Client. But that never happened.

What was wrong with the previous vSphere management tools? The biggest disadvantage of the Windows-based vSphere client was its dependency on the Windows platform. In the era of smartphones and cross-platform applications, a decision to support only Windows-based applications looks like a dead end. A Web client working in a browser looked like a logical step forward. But the web-based version of the vSphere Client received too many complaints from system engineers, with the strongest ones referring to speed, usability, design, and even its architecture. The Web client also required the Adobe Flash plug-in installed, which brought in additional security risks.

With the introduction of the new HTML5 vSphere Web Client, VMware claimed that it would be the last point of the Windows-based client existence. We heard that before, but this time it might be true.

HTML5 vSphere Web Client (HTML5-VWC) as a part of the vSphere infrastructure

The new HTML5 vSphere Web Client (HTML5-VWC) is a part of the vSphere infrastructure, but it comes as a Linux (SLES) virtual appliance, which is easy to deploy. Being a VA, it does not require an additional Windows license and does not affect the vCenter server.

After deploying the virtual appliance, you need to run a special script on your vCenter machine that would create required configuration files for the HTML5 vSphere Web Client. It’s not a very elegant way, but with clear instructions it’s quite simple, considering you should perform it only once.

HTML5-VWC comes with a light, clear, and user-friendly design:

HTML5 vSphere Web Client

The structure of the objects remains the same as in the vSphere client. In general, HTML5 Web Client has definitely shown better performance than the previous Web client. Almost all actions are already available in HTML5-VWC:

  • VM Power Operations (common cases)
  • VM Edit Settings (simple CPU, Memory, Disk changes)
  • VM Console
  • VM and Host Summary pages
  • VM Migration
  • Clone to Template/VM
  • Create VM on a Host
  • Additional monitoring views (Performance charts, Tasks, Events)
  • Global Views (Recent tasks, Alarms–view only)

Conclusions

Pros of HTML5 Web Client

  • Much faster than previous vSphere web client
  • No flash support needed to open web UI on your device
  • The structure of objects became more logical and more convenient compared to Windows vSphere client
  • Simplified navigation

Cons of the HTML5 Web Client

  • HTML5-VWC still is in development and some advanced configuration features are not available in current release

So, in most common cases when you don’t need to reconfigure any advanced features of a vSphere infrastructure, it would be more appropriate to use the new HTML5-VWC. Also, as it seems VMware plans to focus on this tool, so it would be good to get more experience with it.

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