Installing the vSphere Web Client for browser-based VMware management

Break free from the Windows ball and chain, and install the vSphere Web Client for browser-based VMware management. It’s great for admins who are constantly on the go.

The vSphere Web Client provides a versatile, browser-based VMware management tool for admins on the go. From a...

compatible Web browser, you can use the vSphere Web Client to monitor and manage a VMware infrastructure. Before breaking the tether to the Windows-only vSphere Client, you need to first install and configure the Web Client’s components on the back end.

To set up the vSphere Web Client on the server side, verify that port 9443 is open on your network between where you will run the Web Client and the vCenter Server. This port is the default, but you can set it to whichever you choose.

Next, make sure you have administrator-level credentials for the vCenter Server, and then install the Web Client software. It’s available on the same installation media as the vCenter Server installer and is listed as VMware vSphere Web Client (Server). You can install vSphere Web Client either on your vCenter Server or on any server connected to the network. In my case, I installed it directly on my vCenter Server.

Once you install vSphere Web Client, point the browser on your Web Client server to the vSphere Web Client Administration Tool, located at https://localhost:<9443 or whatever port you chose>/admin-app/. Next, register the vCenter Server or Servers with the vSphere Web Client. Click on Register vCenter Server to proceed.

The following screen will ask for the vCenter Server name or IP address, username and password. Make sure you use an account that has administrator privileges to the vCenter Server. If you need to register additional vCenter Servers, you can do that task, as well.

Unless you are using Linked Mode, the Web Client will only be able to connect to one vCenter at a time. Also, be aware that unregistering the vCenter Server from the Web Client will prevent access to that particular vCenter Server from the Web Client.

Using the browser-based vSphere Web Client
After installation is complete on the server side, you can use the Web Client to access your vCenter Server or ESXi host.

To access the Web Client and log in to your vCenter Server, point your browser to https://(Web Client-hostname)(port)/vsphere-client/.

Web Client Fig. 1

Notice the prompt to Download Client Integration Plug-in. You can choose to log in to your vCenter Server at this point or install the plug-in.

Once you successfully log in, you are presented with a screen that identifies the various menus and columns of the browser-based Web Client, as shown below. In the upper-right corner, you can elect to not show this page at the startup.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 2

Pay particular attention to the Launch icon, which looks like an inverted triangle along the top of the window. This button allows you to select the different VMware management applications, such as vCenter Management, Search, Monitoring: Task Console and Event Console, and System Administration: Plug-In Management. As you select the different VMware management applications, the menu title will update to reflect your current selection.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 3

Shown below are screenshots from the browser-based VMware management applications. Each content area contains various tabs that you can select to display different information.

VCenter Management
You will likely use this screen the most. Some of my favorite features include the ability to edit virtual machine settings and the snapshot functionality, which is accessed via the gear icon along the top. The Global Information panel along the right displays the status of tasks that are being performed, which is particularly useful when snapshot operations are in progress.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 4

Advanced Search finds objects within your vCenter environment. Once the object is found, clicking on it will take you to the object in the vCenter Management application.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 5

Monitoring: Task Console
Use this screen to see which tasks are running, who initiated them and their current status.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 6

Monitoring: Event Console
This screen is useful for keeping track of events in your virtual environment. You can view all events from the Event Console, such as user logins and snapshot creation. From this console, you can also see event details and errors that may help you pinpoint a problem if an event fails.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 7

System administration: Plug-in VMware management
You can view your plug-ins on this screen.

vSphere Web Client Fig. 8

As you can see, the browser-based vSphere Web Client provides an alternative to manage your virtual infrastructure when the vSphere Client is not available or inaccessible. Once you get past the complexity of the initial configuration – and the limited browser compatibility – the Web Client provides most of the functionality that systems administrators use for their everyday, VMware management tasks. The Web Client is yet another useful tool that you can add to your VMware management toolbox.

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