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VMware focuses on the future with vSphere HTML5 Web Client

VMware's decision to move to HTML5 and no longer rely on Adobe Flash means the end of the C# client.

It's out with the old and in with the new for VMware, waving goodbye to the C# client and introducing a new vSphere...

HTML5 Web Client.

Ever since the Web Client was released back with vSphere 5.1, the end of the vSphere Client for Windows -- C# client -- has been in the cards. That Web Client was never deemed a sufficient replacement to the C# client; therefore, the company had to delay the inevitable.

The vSphere C# client will still be available in vSphere releases up to vSphere 6.0 Update 2, but it will not be available in the next version of vSphere.

The C# client has been the main management interface for years -- debuting back in 2003, alongside VirtualCenter 1.0 -- but it limited you to a Windows-based machine. With the huge uptake of mobile technology, tablets and other operating systems, such as Mac and Linux, it was an archaic tool that didn't evolve with the times. In fact, it looks almost the same as it did back in 2003. The Web Client seemed like the right way to go in order to provide a cross-platform management tool, but because of the reliance on Flash -- having been developed in Adobe Flex -- and huge performance issues, it was never widely accepted by the end-user community.

When the Web Client was first released, there was a limited set of features to manage your VMware environment and no option to integrate any plug-ins for the likes of Site Recovery Manager, vSphere Update Manager and third-party products, such as EMC Virtual Storage Integrator or other storage vendor APIs. End users were pretty much running both clients side by side.

However, because of the security vulnerabilities of Adobe Flash, and the poor performance and user interaction with the Web Client, end users quickly reverted to using the C# client. Even with the updates that followed -- especially with the new release of vSphere 6.0, with vastly improved interaction speeds and flattened menus -- the continued reliance on Adobe Flash meant it was still hated by customers and the adoption rate remained low, which is one of the reasons why VMware was forced to keep the C# client.

VMware recognized a new approach was needed, and the only way to encourage customers to adopt the Web Client would be to move it off the existing Flash-based platform and onto one built on HTML5 and JavaScript. This move promises both a faster user interface and a broader support for devices and browsers.

Over the past year or so, VMware has been working toward a transition to HTML5 -- first with the admin user interfaces for the Platform Services Controller and the vCenter Server Appliance, and later with the release of the Host Client in vSphere 6.0 U2. The final hurdle is the management interface of vCenter Server. And with the recent release of the vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling, VMware has cleared the last obstacle -- although not all features have yet been enabled in the VMware Fling.

With the new vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling, you can access the management interface from any device. Compared with the existing Web Client, the interface is very slick, modern and, most importantly, it's responsive.

VMware turns its attention to the vSphere Client

After the huge success of the ESXi Embedded Host Client Fling, it comes as no surprise that the engineers at VMware Labs cooked up an HTML5 version for the vSphere Web Client. VMware has dubbed it the vSphere Client.

The feedback for the Host Client Fling was so overwhelmingly positive that VMware was able to complete a lot of bug fixes and tests in order to roll the feature out with vSphere 6.0 U2.

Customers have complained for years about the performance issues with the Flash-based Web Client, so if the development cycle of this new Fling is anything like the Host Client Fling, hopefully, customers will see the vSphere Client released before the end of the year.

According to VMware, there has been a huge uptake of the vSphere Client Fling, with 40% of those surveyed already deploying it into production to manage their environments, despite not officially being supported by VMware. New versions of the Fling appear almost every week, with VMware engineers incorporating any useful feedback into the product.

It's worth noting that VMware has already started to engage with third-party vendors regarding developing their plug-ins for the new vSphere HTML5 Web Client. This plug-in development will take some time, so VMware said they may release both the Flash vSphere Client and the HTML5 Web Client side by side for a period of time until everything has been transitioned over.

End users have embraced the new HTML5 Web Client Fling and given positive responses so far, so it should be quite easy to roll this out natively with the next release of vSphere.

The important thing to note is customers will no longer have a choice. One of the reasons why VMware might have made this announcement so early is to point everyone to the vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling in the hope that customers will help shape the new vSphere Client. It also makes the adoption of the new vSphere Client less painful, as people will have time to prepare for it.

Next Steps

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Managing VMware on your iPad with the vSphere Client

New features accompany vSphere 6 Update 1

This was last published in May 2016

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