Discovering vSphere web client 5.1

When the web client was first announced last year, I was really excited with what it had to offer. I was personally even more excited because I really thought, I would finally have no need to run a windows VM on my mbp.

Then I had a rude awakening which triggered me to write this post. Basically, even though you could access the web-client via the browser on OS X, there is still an element called the “Client Integration Plug-in” that cannot be installed on OS X. :(. This and a few more things just killed all my motivation to use the web-client. I figured if I was going to run a VM to access a fully functional client, I might as well run the C# client. But now things have changed a bit.

To start off, the client integration part has still not changed, it still does not fully work on OS X. I just tried it on 10.8 with no luck. So what does this really mean? Lack of inability to install this will keep at least two options away from you that I know of.

  1. Ability to launch the console of the VM
  2. Ability to transfer files to and from datastores
These are the only two that I am aware of, I am not sure if there are any other gotchas yet. But clearly these are not the end of the world. Another thing that I found disappointing was the inability to access VUM from the web-client. Seriously? Why?
So now that I am done with all the trash talking. Lets talk about why should you still get on the web-client bandwagon soon.
  1. I have been told, support for OS X is on the roadmap (that should address the client integration plugin issue)
  2. The VUM plug-in is coming soon
  3. All/most new enhancements of 5.1 are visible and accesible via the web-client ONLY
  4. 5.1 will be the last release for the traditional C# client we have used for all these years. Going forward, web-client is the only way.

So there, #4 should be enough to motivate one to move forward. But let’s keep the draconian approach out for a little bit. The web-client has had a major face lift and IMO has a much better UI. Sure, you will feel lost in the beginning but you will notice the web-client will provide you a much better user experience. The UI is well thought out and has a much better work flow.

To start off, one can now assign searchable tags to objects inside vCenter and yes one object can have more than one tag assigned to it. I am sure this will be a very helpful new feature in large environments.

How many times have you started doing something in vCenter only to realize you have to go back to a different object to get some info. But you can’t without canceling the wizard and what you are doing. In comes work in progress, this is a pretty handy way to address those situations where you can pause what you are doing and come back to it when you are ready.

Another one that I find very useful is the log browser. Basically it gives you the ability to view the logs for your vCenter and all yours hosts in one place. Isn’t that nice? Single pane of glass is what we always wanted. And yes it will let you see all the logs of your host, and you can switch between the type of logs using the drop down list as shown below.

 

These are simply some of the new features that the web-client has to offer among so many more. During the beta, I noticed the OS X compatibility issue but was hopeful for it to be fixed before GA. That didn’t happen but at least its on the road map. The VUM plugin is coming soon along with most other third party plug-ins. Keep in mind, dont be shocked if future third party plug-ins are only available for the web-client. It only makes sense for the vendors to develop for the client that will stay.

Lastly, if you want to make use of all the enhancements in 5.1, the web-client is a must. I was originally not too impressed by the original web client last year, but I must say the 5.1 is not just as good as the traditional c# client but better. Moreover as mentioned above, the traditional client is going away, now will be a good time to get to know your new friend.

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