July 10, 2017

So pretty much every industry is moving away from Adobe Flash.  The tide began turning when Apple shunned Flash, and both Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome browsers made it easy – or the default – to block Flash.  Additionally, Windows 10 has added Flash blocking features as well.

There are a number of good reasons for this, including how much memory Flash takes up, the security issues that are associated with it and the fact that HTML5 is a viable and nearly always superior replacement for Flash.  The problem that VMware ran into was that it had long used Flash and Adobe’s Flex-based platform for vSphere.

Yo! What's a vSphere?

VMware could have entirely ditched Flash and simply released an HTML5 version of vSphere, but there were a number of drawbacks to that plan. To begin with, switching from one platform to another would require users to learn a new interface with the launch of the vSphere 6.5 update.

However, the larger issue is that either the new version of vSphere 6.5 would be significantly delayed or it would lack a number of features that existed in the Flash version.  In fact, in spite of a number of updates to the HTML5 version of vSphere 6.5, it still lacks a number of the features that currently exist in the Flash version.

As a result, VMware simply decided to release two versions at the same time to allow users to transition in their own time.  The Flash version will eventually be phased out, but in the meantime, users aren’t being forced to use a new HTML5 version of vSphere that is missing a number of features and/or elements.

There are still regular updates being made to the HTML5 version of the product, and it’s got a bit of a way to go until it reaches parity with the Flash edition.

Functionality Still Missing from vSphere 6.5 HTML5 Edition

There is still a pretty long list of things that aren’t functional yet in the HTML5 version of vSphere which is lame. In fact, before launching the HTML5 version, the link actually let’s you know that you’ll be faced with only Partial Functionality.

Although, many of the missing features deal with customization and aren’t necessarily critical if you are just a VM admin.  The laundry list of unsupported functionality is huge but examples of this include the ability to create and configure distributed switches, overview performance charts, advanced networking template customization, content library management, permissions management, the ability to turn locator LEDs on and off of storage devices…mmmmkay I’ll stop now since the more I list, the sadder I get.

Of course the number of aspects of the GUI that are missing and will make vSphere easier to use once they’re available.

These are all nice features to have, but they won’t usually have a significant effect on performance, it’ll just make the lives of a VM Infrastructure engineer to cry a bit.

Speaking of not listing more missing functionality,  there are a number of functions related to datastores that aren’t available yet and are fairly important.

You can’t register virtual machines or mount and unmount VVOL datastores to hosts, and there are a number of default and profile settings that you can’t change.

Host storage is another area where there’s a lot of missing features.  You can’t edit host cache configurations, swap cache configurations or add to the virtual flash resource capacity.  You’re also missing capabilities like support for hardware iSCSI to IPv6, virtual flash resource management and the ability to manage single sign-on.

Generally speaking, across all aspects of the web client, you’re limited in a number of ways when it comes to editing settings or changing default configurations.

Supported Functionality Added to vSphere 6.5 HTML5 Edition

Although there’s still a lot missing from the HTML5 version of vSphere 6.5, VMware has been busy with constant updates to the web client.  Since its launch as a fling, there has been a stream of features and capabilities added.

One of the reasons that there are so many gaps in configuration capabilities is that VMware has naturally focused on getting the most important functions working.

Some of the things that have been added since the initial release include a variety of functions related to managing and deploying the platform’s hypervisor and the virtual machine file system.  Other, also important updates, included the ability to configure networks through editing ports, adapters and switch settings.

Host storage management updates have made it possible to view, change and monitor iSCSI hardware and settings as well as the ability to attach and detach devices and to scan for storage changes.

While they’ve focused on getting the most important functions to work, they’ve also added a few sweet features that help make it easier to use the client.  Drag and drop capabilities for VM migration were added as well as the ability to do batch mode installs, upgrades and unmounts for virtual machines and things and such.

So Which Edition of vSphere 6.5 Should You Use?

The question of whether to use a Flash or HTML5 based edition of vSphere will soon be a non-issue since VMware has clearly stated that they’re deprecating the use of Flash as a platform.  However, they are still in transition mode, and there are a few good reasons to use the Flash-based version for now.

The biggest is that it has all of the features while the HTML5 version is still missing quite a few!  Additionally, if you’re already used to using older versions of the client, you’ll be much more familiar with the latest edition.

That said, you’re eventually going to have to transition to the HTML5 version of the client if you intend to continue to use vSphere, and most users have found it to be faster and more stable than the Flash version.

If the only thing that’s holding you back is having to get used to a new interface, you may as well take the plunge and start using the HTML5 edition.

I just wish that they’d model the design of the flash version based on the old thick client. This way it would feel more familiar to the vets that have been using it for years. No biggie in the end. I’m all about change and it’s just another thing to get used to. 🙂


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