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VMware Releases HTML5-based Web Client

In time, it will likely replace the current Flash client.

VMware, wanting for some time to ditch its Flash-based vSphere Web client, has been working on an HTML5 version. That client is now available from the VMware Flings Web site.

Adobe's Flash is a notorious attack vector and has been derided for years for its unstable and frequently-patched nature. These and other factors are why companies have been moving away from it for years. Vishwa Srikaanth, who wrote a blog post announcing the client, explained the rationale behind the move. "The decision to go with Flash was made years ago, before HTML5 and developer tools were ready. The situation has changed, and we've been working very hard on removing the dependency on Flash to improve performance, stability, and security."

The Web client is being distributed as an appliance inside a virtual machine (VM), and "been designed to work with your existing vSphere 6.0 environments," Srikaanth blogged. Its purpose is to manage vCenter, and it was written in both HTML5, the current Web standard, and JavaScript. It isn't yet feature complete, but the Fling site has a listing of the current features, including:

  • VM Power Operations (common cases)
  • VM Edit Settings (simple CPU, Memory, Disk changes)
  • VM Console
  • VM and Host Summary pages
  • VM Migration (only to a Host)
  • Clone to Template/VM
  • Create VM on a Host (limited)
  • Additional monitoring views (Performance charts, Tasks, Events)
  • Global Views (Recent tasks, Alarms–view only)

The Fling site also lists a number of known issues, including browser compatibility and various bugs, none of which appear to be fatal. Duncan Epping, a VMware Chief Technologist, wrote on his popular Yellow-Bricks blog that the Web client is a work in progress. He said that "VMware focused on the key workflows first and will expand over time."

The Web client has some similarities to the recently released VMware Host Client, which Virtualization Review columnist Tom Fenton wrote about. Some of the differences are that the Host Client doesn't require a VM to be installed, and it can manage only a single ESXi host; the vSphere Web client is an interface to vCenter. 

One user who responded to the Srikaanth blog posting, self-identified as "Carl Liebich," had good things to say about the client: "The UI is fast and responsive and a very welcomed refresh!" One VMware source said that there has been a lot of customer dissatisfaction with the Flash client. It's important to note, however, that the new client is still far less feature-complete than the Flash version.

"Flings" are unofficial VMware products that may or may not become official in time. The Fling site says they're "Apps and tools built by our engineers that are intended to be played with and explored." In this case, however, it appears much more likely than not that the HTML5 Web client will eventually replace the Flash client. The VMware source said the new client will probably become part of the next major release of vSphere.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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