It’s coming – vSphere HTML5 Web Client!

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Brace yourself

It seems like a year or three ago that we first started hearing rumors about an HTML5 client for vSphere administration.  In fact, I specifically remember loading vSphere 6 onto a test cluster just to experience the new non-Flash Web Client only to be somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t included.

Being deep into the vSphere 6 life-cycle, it was interesting to find out about the HTML5-based ESXi Embedded Host Client but of course that only provided us the ability to manage a host directly with no vCenter ability.  It was exciting to find out that ESXi 6.0 Update 2 would include the host client (no longer as a fling).  Today marks another awesome step forward for VMware vSphere!  Today, it was announced that VMware Flings is offering the vSphere HTML5 Web Client.

For now, the HTML5 Web Client is offered as a standalone appliance that gets deployed alongside your vCenter Server Appliance or Windows vCenter server.  Installation is pretty straightforward though you have to enable bash as the default shell through SSH (documented in the instructions).  The instructions will indicate that the OVF “might work” deployed with the C# Thick Client but in my experience it does not – you will not be able to configure the networking properties in full:

HTML5 OVF Network

HTML5 OVF Network

You’ll notice above that we don’t get to set up the gateway, DNS, etc. so I recommend using the vSphere Web Client to properly deploy OVFs:

HTML5 OVF Network Correct

Once deployed, you simply SSH into the appliance as root (default password is demova) and register the HTML5 appliance with vCenter by running:

/etc/init.d/vsphere-client configure –start yes –user root –vc <your vcenter IP> –ntp <ntp server IP>

The –ntp portion is optional but recommended.

Once registered, you simply access the HTML5 Web Client by going to https://<the IP you assigned>:9443/ui and log in to the new interface:

HTML5 Web Client

The HTML5 Web Client is still not ready for full-time production, as it doesn’t support all aspects of the current Web Client, but it’s close!  For instance, one thing missing is the ability to manage/monitor vSphere Replication when going to the Monitor tab of the vCenter Server:

HTML5 Web Client

You can see in the above screenshot that there is no tab for vSphere Replication.  No big deal, since this is still a Fling, but you get the idea.

Overall the quality and performance is pretty good.  I used the console and VMRC console without issue.  You can edit VM settings and are quickly provided the basic settings you’d expect:

HTML5 VM Settings

Some of the advanced settings you’d find in the ordinary vSphere Web Client are missing… so I am sure that’s coming.

One other issue is that I couldn’t figure out a way to hide the tasks frame at the bottom – I tried to pull it down as small as I could in order to fit some more information from the main section while on my laptop but couldn’t.  I may have missed it but there was no “hide” function that docks the recent tasks to the side like in the vSphere Web Client.

In all, it’s a good start but like I mentioned earlier is no where near ready for production use so don’t think you’ll be rolling this iteration out any time soon.  Being a standalone appliance is a little bit of a hassle but that’ll surely be remedied once packaged with vCenter.  Hopefully it doesn’t bump the requirements of vCenter up much if any.

So, good work VMware Fling team!  I know the ESXi Embedded Host Client surfaced officially but a lot of us thought that the HTML5 Web Client would remain a myth.  Anxious to see this progress more and find its way into an official vCenter release!  Stay tuned!

Author: Jon

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