If you're a vSphere sysadmin and you've been waiting patiently for a fully-featured HTML5-based vSphere client, VMware finally has some good news for you: you (probably) won't have to wait much longer.
That's because the server virtualization company has given a (vague) promise about its availability. "We are targeting to deliver to you a fully featured version of the vSphere Client later this year, in Fall 2018," June Yang, a VMware vice president, said in a May blog post.
Long-suffering customers have been waiting for this for over two years since the client was first teased. The unpalatable alternatives are a C#-based client desktop that is incomplete, or the old Flash-based web client, which most administrators will only run a mile from on-security grounds and which even VMware is distancing itself from.
But far from being seen as good news, Yang's promise of an HTML5 client later in the year appears to have enraged some sysadmins who are desperate for a fully featured web client for their vSphere virtualization setup.
"This blog post is actually a smack in the face when it comes to VMware clients!" commented one user called Richard. "It still reads 'We are targeting to deliver to you a fully featured version of the vSphere Client later this year, in Fall 2018' meaning it's not even definite! 2+ years and your development team is still dragging its feet!"
In VMware's defense, a VMware product manager called Vishwa pointed out that the new HTML5 client is not a direct port of the old Flash client. Instead, the development team has tried to enhance features and improve performance, he said.
And it's also the case that the virtualization technology company has released unsupported "Flings" (i.e. beta versions) of the HTML5 client which are quite stable, even if they don't offer the full range of features that the Flash version did.
But user Richard is far from the only VMware customer who is upset with the company. Another sysadmin called Steve appeared apoplectic with rage that the new HTML 5 client is still not ready.
"This should have been done at least 12 months ago," he commented. "I can't believe an enterprise software company like VMware has taken this long to implement a usable management interface for their flagship product. I can't believe that the original web client shipped with such terrible performance and usability to start with. I can't believe the C-sharp client was abandoned before an adequate replacement was available. I can't believe that an enterprise software company that provides software that runs highly secure and mission critical applications would base a web client on FLASH."
Rallying to VMware's defense once more, Vishwa pointed out that the use of Flash was commonplace in the past. "We all know that Flash is getting deprecated and it had a lot of other issues," he said. "(But) at the time of Flash-based client development, Flash was not seen the same way as it is now and HTML5 based development was not nascent."
HTML5-Based vSphere Client: The Devil Is in the Details
Despite the obvious anger of the likes of users Richard and Steve, the announcement that a new web client is imminent was seen as good news by some VMware sysadmins. But as is often the case, the devil is in the details. For example, the announcement did not make clear which version of vSphere users will have to be running to enjoy the full functionality of the new HTML 5 client.
When asked about this explicitly, Vishwa replied: "For the fall 2018 fully-featured client, this will initially be available on the 6.7 version. Having said that, we are trying to bring all of this into the 6.5 release too."
But when will 6.5 be supported too? "At this point of time, we do not have a timeline on the porting to 6.5 versions," Vishwa said.
So it looks like VMware is working hard to keep its vSphere customers happy. But the angry ones do have a point. Having spent a fortune on VMware's software, is it really too much to expect a fully-featured web client so that sysadmins can do their jobs securely and efficiently? Because after all, if server virtualization isn't about security and efficiency, then what exactly is the point of it?
Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.