The new vSphere 5.1 Web Client – A walkthrough (part 1)

With VMware vSphere 5.1 GA for a while now, I am using the vSphere Web Client for the same period of time. vSphere 5.1 will be the last vSphere version incorporating the Windows vSphere Client; the next version will be Web Client – only, so it’s good to get used to the new client a soon as possible. I will write a series of articles about the new vSphere Web Client which will help you to get around this new management interface.

I have to say: I am pretty exicited about the new full functional Web Client. Okay, it will cost you some time to get used to it (and to find those handy screens you were always using in the Windows vSphere Client), but after that the vSphere Web Client will make you feel like “home”.

vSphere Web Client – Client Requirements

First of all it’s good to notice the requirements for the client (from vSphere 5.1 online documentation Center):

Use of the vSphere Web Client requires a supported Web browser. Supported browsers include:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9
  • Mozilla Firefox 3.6 and higher
  • Google Chrome 14 and higher

The vSphere Web Client also requires Adobe Flash Player version 10.1.0 or later to be installed in your browser.

And what about Mac? Well Mac is not supported, although you can use the Web Client on Mac there’s no client integration available for this platform. This means you cannot use/access the VM Console and you cannot upload files to a datastore. For the rest, Mac will work :).

vCenter Single Sign On

Using VMware vSphere 5.1 means you have to use the new vCenter Single Sign On product/feature. SSO will create a Single Sign On environment for the various VMware products like vCenter, vCenter Orechestrator, vCloud Director and vShield. SSO will sit between your VMware products and your user directory and/or you can use SSO as you user directory. In a pre vSphere 5.1 scenario the only possible user directory integration was with Microsoft Active Directory. vCenter SSO can integrate with more different Active Directory domains, Open LDAP, SAML 2.0 and WS Trust. This picture gives a good idea of the architecture of vCenter SSO:

Note: During a recent vSphere 5.0->5.1 upgrade I performed, I lost the Active Directory integration. For me this meant I could not logon to vCenter with my personal administrative logon. The only two accounts available were the local Windows vCenter administrator account and the SSO admin account (admin@system-domain), the latter one didn’t have any permissions on the vCenter server but you will need it to administer vCenter SSO (the admin@system-domain account had rights on SSO)!

Login on to the vSphere Web Client for the first time and configure SSO

You can use a webbrowser to logon to the Web Client, the default URL is http://vsphere_webclient_url:9443/vsphere-client/ (vsphere_webclient_url = vcenter_url most of the time). You can also open http://vcenter_url/ and click “Log in to the vSphere Web Client”. After the login screen is loaded, it’s a good idea to download & install the client integration plugin, used for the VM console connection:

First, I am login in with the SSO administrator (admin@system-domain) account, so I can connect to AD (again). After login in choose administration at the left side of the screen and then choose “Configuration”. Use the plus sign to add an AD resource:

Gabrie already wrote a great article on how to connect to AD, so I will not explain it in this article.

Let’s continue our tour. First log out of the vSphere Web Client, logon again…this time with an account that has sufficient rights on the vCenter Server. After login in the home screen appears:

The screen of Web Client is divided in three parts:

  1. The object browser which enables you to browse the vCenter Inventory.
  2. The object details screen, depending on the object selected in area 1 the details are presented in this part of the screen.
  3. The tasks & alarms, everything that is happening in your environment will be presented in this part of the screen.

Then, there are a few handy shortcuts indicated by the red arrows:

  • The object history button on the top left of the screen.
  • A shortcut to the vCenter server and a shortcut to the vSphere Web Client home screen.
  • Two pins which will pin (or unpin) the object browser and task & alarms screen. Especially when you working with a lower screen resolution it’s handy to unpin these parts of the interface.

Favorite screens

In the traditional vSphere Windows Client I have some favorite screens which offer me insight information right away. Let’s see if I can found them in the vSphere Client:

Select a cluster -> related objects -> hosts for a quick overview on the load on your ESXi cluster in the selected cluster:

Do the same for cluster -> related objects -> virtual machines for a quick overview on the load on the various virtual machines:

The Storage Views option in the traditional vSphere Client offers some great insight information on e.g. storage usage, snapshot usage, path redundancy and more. Fortunately we have this information available through the new Web Client! Select the storage object -> Cluster -> Monitor -> Storage Reports for some great info:

Now we’re talking about storage…can we still up- and download files using the vSphere Web Client? Yes we can, although it works a bit different compared to the Windows vSphere Client. First off all, you will need the client plugin to be installed. The upload feature is available through datastore, select a datastore, and click the upload option. Downloading a file is available by right clicking the file and select “Download from datastore”:

Okay, this is where part 1 ends. I hope you find it useful, part 2 of this article is available here.

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About viktorious

Viktor van den Berg is a Solution Architect at PQR and VCDX #121.

Viktor is a regular speaker at seminars and conferences. Continue reading...

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