The Death of an Icon – Literally

From vMusketeers.com written by me and commented on by my co-bloggers

As I type this we are about to go to a special WebEx meeting for vExperts only but by the time you read this; VMware would have announced this on their blog and the gag can come off!

So after enduring a huge amount of pain due to typical conference call pings/rings/background noise we eventually got down to business.

The meeting is basically telling us we are going to get a new GUI to manage VMware estates however there can be only one (cue Highlander movie MEME). What does this mean? Well it means:

VMware are no longer offering C sharp client (VI CLIENT) in the next release of vSphere

So what is the low down and why did VMware make this strategic or tactical move? Well according to VMware they did it for a number of reasons and these are, but not limited to:

  • HTML5 is going to be the replacement in it’s entirety
  • Getting customers a web client interface that performs and has the same structure as the current GUI is a priority as the current one has known performance issues.
  • Since 5.5+ more features have been moved into to the GUI and so this is a natural progression
  • Web client is the way forward and the ONLY way forward in the eyes of VMware
  • vSphere 6.0 comes with embedded client already based on HTML5 so they are expanding on this
  • No answer on when the next release of vSphere so no exact time known to prepare
  • C sharp will continue to be supported until the End Of Life of the vSphere version currently running it (note 5.0 and 5.1 are almost EOL already by the way!)

Main concerns from fellow vExperts

  1. We need the C# to manage platform i.e. file uploads etc
  2. we don’t like change
  3. 3rd party plugins – what happens to them? How will they work? Will they work?
  4. Too many tools to manage the same estate

From listening to the concerns, there was a lot of push back from the vExperts to say that we don’t like being told by VMware how to manage our environments, but more along the lines of we need VMware to offer us the functionality that we are asking for in the real world.

What was also clear was that this wasn’t really discussed with the community in depth first as there were a lot of un answered questions with regards to the primary concerns of the vExperts and customers. A member of the call also suggested we get a separate dedicated page that will act as a compatibility matrix of vendor plugin to the next release version including the HTML5 GUI.

As an architect we will absolutely need this to measure the impact of the HTML5 client and management of complex vendor specific work flows and environments. More so if you are doing upgrades to new versions of vSphere as you may already have established work flow practices and DR run books or documentation which could literally all breakdown if your plugins no longer work. In green field deployments; you will already have got a test plan in place and introducing new ways of managing the platform in some cases so this may not be an issue.

So we there you have it, the death of VI client is announced so make the most of it while you can as VMware will have a lot to do to make the new GUI not only offer the same features as the C# client, but also to make it quick and a single pane of glass. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were features missing and VMware turn round and say use PowerCLi. We will find out soon enough!

Final thoughts

I’ll miss the VI Client. It’s been a faithful servant to me since the very start of using vSphere and has got me out of jail on a number of occasions when the vCenter has crapped itself due to some boo boo made by an admin (me in most instances). To lose this critical functionality and get out jail free card in case of a web GUI failure of some description, will more than likely not go down well with most of you either. I personally think it’s a mistake relying on web services for the be all and end all of management because web servers fail so if they do, you’ll want another way in. You always get taught to make things highly available and to have a back up plan so why not keep the VI Client in this way but to only be used in emergency. The new GUI MUST deliver the same functionality as the VI client if we are to let our friend go to into retirement as we really do need it.

@VMware – The vExperts have made it loud and clear on the call, if we lose it, you better come up with the goods and by goods I mean a GUI that performs much faster than the current GUI for the new GUI or you’ll have more than a few tough conversations in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Want to know what the HTML5 client fling  is about: Click here!

Bilal here:

I think getting rid of the C# client all together is a bad idea. Yes by all means move on into the new HTML 5 client and make the web client the sole focus….but leave the functionality that the C# has, and let people use it who want to use it.

It’s obvious VMware have been moving towards this for a while, but to say you are binning it off, before you have got a decent production ready web client up and running for people to use, is a bit silly and a hell of a gamble.

I guess in some ways burning your bridges so you cant go back, will force you to go full throttle ahead and put everything into it and that could work out really well.

Graeme here:

Man there was some mad interference on that conference call! I had a headache by the end of it. I agree with Bilal, VMware should let admins have the choice of either the C# client or the HTML 5 client. There’s no real reason (in my mind) why they can’t replicate what you see in the thick client straight into the H5 client. As admins, we should have a choice what tool we want to use – for example, regardless of what GUI we use, CLI will always be an option. I’ve always HATED the Web Client but LOVED the idea of it. It will be a sad day when I remove the C# client from my machine.

Of course we have to remember we can still use the thick client until we’re fully off 5.5 and 6.0 – the H5 client will be the ONLY way from the next major release of vSphere. I have a feeling that a lot of admins and companies will hold back on upgrading until the H5 client does what it should be able to do from day 1 – in our experience it won’t!!

About

IT virtualisation professional since 2002 after serving 7 years in the British Army as a REME Corporal. Currently a Solutions Architect. I'm a dedicated husband, motorcyclist, proud father and owner of two beautiful border collies Monty and Mitch. Hobbies are: Motorcycles - Isle of Man TT/Road races and MotoGP/BSB/WSB Rugby Union Skiing DCS Flight Simulator -A10A/C and SU25 Frogfoot specialist Airsoft - Closer Quarter Battle

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