vSphere Upgrade Saga: HTML5 Client Usability

VMware has the HTML5 vSphere/vCenter Client constantly under development. Yet, would you use it? Would I? The client is woefully incomplete for the entire VMware product suite but seems to have the basics done well. Here are a  few tips for keeping this client up to date, as well as what seems to be missing for day-to-day use.

Since the client is changing regularly, it is important to keep everything up to date. I wrote this little script to run in cron that will do just that. Now that the client is updated regularly, usage seems simple. However, I found there are some gotchas:

  • Use Windows session authentication does not seem to work. This does not work on the web client either. (Fixed in vCenter 6.5)
  • There are cluster-level issues:
    • There is no support for NSX Manager.
    • There is no support for VSAN, which houses my View environment.
    • There is no support for Update Manager, which is crucial to ensuring everything is up to date.
  • There is no way to add or update licenses.
  • vRealize Operations Manager integration is missing.
  • vRealize Infrastructure Navigator integration is missing.
  • vCenter Support Assistant integration is missing.
  • Host Profiles does not work as expected. (It got stuck and could not allow me to click on any button. Great for showing status, not remediating.)

However, the bare minimum required is there. I do find myself switching back and forth between clients quite often. It is happening with diminishing frequency, but it is still required.

My third-party integrations are also missing. I hope that will change in the future, such as with HPE OneView for vCenter.

I find that the HTML5 client is still slow and a bit clunky. For instance, it needs to verify that you wish to edit something instead of entering the edit screen directly and then allowing you to change your mind there. When I go into edit to review things, the extra mouse click is not helpful.

I also find web interfaces to be woefully slow. What I can do in the .NET client in less than thirty seconds often takes a minute to do in either client for some reason. The DOM takes a while to render, while in the .NET client, it does not.

This all came to a head when I went to fix a serious problem with my environment. My nodes kept crashing on me due to a non-maskable interrupt issue with one of the PCI Express adapters in my box. I had to go back and reinstall with an older version of ESXi to fix. I am not sure yet if this was a PCIe ordering problem or something else. It would take quite a few repetitions of entering maintenance mode, reinstalling, applying the host profile, rebooting, exiting maintenance mode, and stopping and starting HA to fix.

Update: The fix was to set the vSphere  host kernel setting iovDisableIR to FALSE for all my nodes.

Unfortunately, I was hopping between three clients and eventually only two. We need better notification that nodes are out of commission or that nodes are rebooted than the web clients seem to give. When we are waiting on the web client(s), we are in trouble and feel like our time is not worth much.

Consider how you use the clients during a major disaster. We need things to be fast, reliable, and effective. That can be achieved with web clients, but with many changes. We are not there yet. VMware is currently working on functionality, but it cannot lose sight of the speed necessary to use the client on a day-to-day basis during an emergency.

While not fully fledged, the HTML5 client is getting there. This time, I could not use it for everything. I hope to change that in the near future.

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is an author, analyst, developer, technologist, and business owner. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and TVP Strategy where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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