This week, in the lead up to this year’s VMworld US, VMware have announced the impending death of both vCenter on Windows, and the vSphere Web Client.
Each of these will be deprecated in the next major version of vSphere (assuming 7.0), and removed in the next major version after that (assuming 8.0). Quite when we will see these releases is still a matter of speculation, but with VMworld this week it is possible 7.0 will be slated for release in Winter 2017.
vCenter Server Appliance vs Windows
The vCenter Server Appliance, or vCSA, has been around since vSphere 5.0, and over time has become more mature, more stable, and has moved from VMware’s licensed version of SUSE Linux, to the modern and lightweight Photon OS.
These changes have turned the appliance into a performant, and reliable powerhouse; important facets for what is obviously a critical and central part of any modern vSphere datacenter.
Since vSphere 6.0, the vCSA has had at least feature parity with vCenter installed on Windows, and the added simplicity of installation that it includes – not having to install VUM separately, not having to install a MSSQL database, and not having yet another Windows instance to stroke – makes the use of vCSA over Windows a no-brainer.
As things have moved on, the migration tools too have become more and more mature, meaning that migration to vCSA 6.5 Update 1 is a really straight forward affair from most starting points.
The death of flash – long live HTML5
The vSphere Web Client has been a contentious tool since its introduction in vSphere 5.0; often unstable and poorly performing, it has been the only way to access newer features of vSphere such as VSAN, SPBM, as well as newer versions of vSphere Update Manager and Site Recovery Manager.
Added to this are the raft of security issues facing Flash, and it’s general fall from grace over the last 10 years. Adobe have now decreed that Flash will die in 2020, which is great news for desktop browsers, mobile devices, and the internet in general.
VMware responded to customer feedback on the vSphere Web Client (or Flex Client) by releasing the HTML5 Web Client under their Flings program back in March 2016, and shipped vSphere 6.5 with this installed alongside the Flex client.
While the HTML5 client still does not have feature parity at this time, the rate at which it is catching up is impressive, and we can reasonably expect it to match, and possibly, overtake in terms of features in the next 6-12 months.
The removal of both of these tools is, for me at least, great news. I have had no desire to run a Windows vCenter since probably 5.5, which was four years ago now. Likewise, the vSphere Web Client has been a necessary evil since the same time, especially when it came to using third party integrations and newer features.
Hopefully the removal of these legacy chains will mean that development is accelerated as engineering resource is freed up. It will put some burden on the engineering teams from VMware ecosystem partners, who will need to release new versions of their plugins, if they haven’t already, utilising the gorgeous HTML 5 Clarity interface, but those partners should already be moving in this direction anyway.