Well, another tidbit (and maybe I’m slow coming to find this out)… from the VMware vCenter Server 5.1.0b release notes:
vSphere Client. In vSphere 5.1, all new vSphere features are available only through the vSphere Web Client. The traditional vSphere Client will continue to operate, supporting the same feature set as vSphere 5.0, but not exposing any of the new features in vSphere 5.1.
vSphere 5.1 and its subsequent update and patch releases are the last releases to include the traditional vSphere Client. Future major releases of VMware vSphere will include only the vSphere Web Client.
For vSphere 5.1, bug fixes for the traditional vSphere Client are limited to security or critical issues. Critical bugs are deviations from specified product functionality that cause data corruption, data loss, system crash, or significant customer application down time where no workaround is available that can be implemented.
Firstly, so, none of the new features of 5.1 are available through the current vSphere client. Not really checked this in detail, or which features this includes, but this suprises me.
Secondly, in the course of studying for the VCP5 exam the existing web client is described as something of a lightweight, not for general use by VMware admins tool. If the existing Windows vSphere client is being done away with, VMware will need to do some SERIOUS work in getting the future web client up to scratch. Not only that but they will have the tough task of choosing what web browsers to support and the various versions thereof.
Thirdly, what about all the third party plugins? Many of those will all need to be updated and rewritten to run on the vCenter server/vCSA. Now this is quite a big one since it will require plugins to be changed from running on the Windows based vSphere client to running on a Linux appliance. Not a totally trivial task I would wager.
Forthly, upgrading from 4.x/5.x to 6.x will probably be frought with some challenges in needing to switch back and forth between the “old” Windows client and the “new” web client. I expect some serious planning and testing will need to be performed to ensure that all operational tasks can be completed before, during and after the migrations/upgrades.
Can’t say I’m pleased about this. I can see massive challenges in keeping web browsers working smoothly with such a core and critical application. Even getting relatively simple websites to render equivalently across browsers can be challenging, let alone something as complex as a vSphere administration console.
However, I can see why VMware would want to do this – for their big vCloud push. “One client to rule them all” for the administrators/providers of clouds all the way down to their end customers. Quite a vision, but I wonder if they can pull it off.
There is a risk here that Microsoft’s Hyper-V will gain a foothold when this comes to pass. I imagine coupled with the removal of the thick client will be the removal of the installable vSphere Server. If this comes to pass then some Microsoft shops are likely to question the introduction of a Linux appliance into their server estate when a Hyper-V and Microsoft based platform will be available (and quite possibly already included in their existing MS licenses).
Customers are fickle and can switch allegance quite quickly… I hope VMware has considered this and doesn’t shoot it self in the foot!