VMware announced there's no vSphere Client for Windows for the next vSphere release, HTML5 web UIs are the future, forcing us to suffer vSphere Web Client during this transition

Posted by Paul Braren on May 18 2016 (updated on May 19 2016) in
  • Virtualization
  • ESXi
  • Homelab
  • Goodbye-c-sharp-with-border

    With today's announcement (excerpt seen above):

    any uncertainty about where VMware is headed for this next release of VMware vSphere is gone. Don't forget that the beta testing that's underway was done rather publicly so you can see for yourself, sign-up details at:

    It's no secret that I've rejoiced at the overt moves toward HTML5 for some time already, see:

    Wait a minute, is VMware Ready?

    Here's the thing. These HTML5 UIs don't have feature parity yet. And while development of the ESXi Host client has been swift and impressive, the vSphere HTML5 Web Client only just arrived last month, and doesn't have the same maturity and install integration.

    Specifically, you may recall that ESXi 6.0 Update 1 arrived with the ESXi Host Client baked right in. Now that's what I call integration. Just point your browser to the IP or name of your new ESXi host and go. Nice!

    But with the vSphere HTML5 Web Client, at least in the initial release, you have a separate VM to install just for the web server your point your browser to, not exactly as smooth or elegant as if it was included right into vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) in the first place.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm an author and video producer who occasionally takes on the daunting challenge of refining an easy-as-possible build-your-own vSphere Datacenter videos that have been very popular, such as:

    Basing such intensive work on a UI that's about to go away makes little sense. Moving to HTML5 couldn't be fast enough. I simply can't see me spending any more time on the C# vSphere Client client, given we all know it's been the end of the road for that UI for a long time now.

    Reasons for my concern.

    See Dennis Lu's words from today's aforementioned blog post:

    vSphere Web Client has always been intended to be the replacement for the Desktop client, and many of our users have tried to embrace this during the vSphere 5.5 and vSphere 6.0 periods, spending their time working within the Web Client even with the Desktop client available.
    We do expect the plugin transition to take some time, and this means that we expect to ship the Flex based Web Client and the HTML5 based vSphere Client side by side for some uncertain period. Everyone is very eager to have the new vSphere Client as the only client, but we want to respect the porting development time our partners require.

    The problem is time. As I mentioned, it's only been a month since VMware surprised us with the vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling, and it just doesn't have all the features it needs to truly replace the vSphere Web Client quite yet. So that means my next video needs to feature the sluggish and much-maligned, Adobe Flex based vSphere Web Client? Sigh. I think I'll pass. My voluntary evening and weekend blogging time is too valuable to invest in a temporary stop-gap UI.

    A deeper problem is it seems there's a certain lack of foresight and funding. Why is this suddenly a hurry? Wasn't the vitriol for the sluggish vSphere Web Client enough back in 2013/2014 for VMware to wake up and realize that pumping funding into an HMTL5 future as fast as possible was the way to go forward, getting free of the whole Adobe Flash/Flex and Client Integration Pack/NPAPI mess out of the way as quickly as possible?

    Five UIs is way too many.

    Let's hope VMware surprises us all with this vSphere 6.1 or 6.5 or whatever they wind up calling it, getting the HTML5 Web Client "near-enough" to feature parity. That would allow us to practically whittle this list of 5 UIs down to just 3 as quickly as possible, if VMware produces stable and reliable and consistent UIs. Yes, that will take serious ongoing and long-term funding for talented engineers with the right skills and experience, and a whole lot of UX and QA testing. Not the time for cutting corners and cost reductions.

    I simply can't explain this mess sufficiently to newbies in my getting started articles and videos. They get scared off and head to other hypervisors where initial setup is easier and faster.

    Below, you'll see how many UIs we have currently in vSphere 6.0 Update 2:

    1. vSphere Client - legacy Win32 C# client, to be deprecated soon

    2. ESXi Embedded Host Client - HTML5/JavaScript UI for ESXi

    3. vSphere HTML5 Web Client - HTML5/JavaScript UI for vCenter, released just 5 days ago!

    4. vSphere Web Client - comprehensive (and sluggish Adobe Flex) vCenter admin browser UI

    5. VAMI - occasional-use browser UI for back-end VCSA sysadmin

    Note the lines drawn through the dead-end UIs that I'm planning to eliminate from all TinkerTry videos and screenshots from today onward.

    My time and efforts are valuable, and I'd much rather my articles and unique and popular videos have years of shelf life and relevance, not mere months.

    I plan to keep writing the long-form stuff, not the short-term fluff.

    Closing thoughts.

    I'm very glad VMware is moving fast to HTML5, but it smells like the maturity of the replacement UIs are being rushed so fast that we are essentially being asked to bear a lot of unnecessary pain for even more time.

    Customers of all sizes would likely much rather hop directly from the C# vSphere Client to the vSphere HTML5 Web Client. This would avoid having to retrain staff on the intermediate dead-end, that slow vSphere Web Client.

    But the feature gap between the C# and HMTL5 UIs makes such a strategy a no-go for many enterprises.

    I would guess there will be a bit of backlash against this unfortunate period of painful transition, with the effect being further delays in enterprises adopting vSphere 6. That's unfortunate, because there's a lot to like about it, and my home lab that's actually on the VMware HCL is running smoother and faster than ever before. And wow, those HTML5 UIs can really look good and run fast, so in the long term, things are still looking pretty darn promising. Let's try to keep that in mind.

    May 28 2016 Update 1

    I have now spotted this excellent article, which includes a Q&A that I had hoped VMware would have published. Way to go, Eric!

    along with many more similar stories surfacing all over, including:

    See also at TinkerTry


    ...and two very popular articles that came out within a few hours of the download's availability:

    ...and finally, the beloved mini-tower system my article refers to, anyone can buy one fully tested from Wiredzone.

    See also