How many of you remember the old WebAccess interface that came with classic ESX 2.0? I know I sure do! It was a very useful interface that allowed administrators to easily manage their ESX hosts through a web browser that provided basic VM creation, troubleshooting and most importantly initial bootstrap configurations for greenfield deployments where a vCenter Server may not be available yet.
I have always felt that having a simple web interface that customers can just point their browser to an ESX(i) host after an installation would be the most intuitive from a user experience standpoint. About a year ago, I was involved in a project with two VMware Engineers, Kevin Christopher and Jehad Affoneh, when we worked on an early prototype of an optimized Embedded Host Client for ESXi. We socialized the prototype across many different teams at VMware and the overwhelming feedback was super positive. Earlier this year, with the help of the ESXi PM and the Engineering team, they decided to take the concept of the prototype to the next level and really turn it into something that could really be used by customers.
UPDATE: (08/25/15) - v2 has just been released, be sure to take a look at this blog post for more details.
Today, I am very happy to announce the release of a new VMware Fling: HTML5 Embedded Host Client for ESXi which is currently distributed as a simple installable VIB. The Fling currently only supports ESXi 6.0 (however, there is a workaround ESXi 5.x which you can find below). In this first release, the Free ESXi Hypervisor is not supported, but the plan is to add support for this in a future update. Here is a list of some of the supported operations in this first release:
- VM operations (power on, off, reset, suspend, etc.)
- Creating a new VM, from scratch or from OVF/OVA (limited OVA support)
- Configuring NTP on a host
- Displaying summaries, events, tasks and notifications/alerts
- Providing a console to VMs
- Configuring host networking
- Configuring host advanced settings
- Configuring host services
- License management
Once the VIB is installed, which does not require a system reboot, you simply just point your web browser to the following URL: https://[ESXI-HOST]/ui and login with an administrator account.
One of my favorite features of the Embedded Host Client is the integrated VM Console which is accessible directly within the browser and does not require any additional plugins or installers. I do want to mention that the VM Console feature is currently only available when installed onto an ESXi 6.0 host. One other caveat that I would like to point out is that for customers who wish to try the Embedded Host Client on ESXi 5.5 or on ESXi 6.0 host which have been upgraded from an ESXi 5.x environment, the following workaround is required:
ESXi 5.x or ESXi 6.0 (upgraded from ESXi 5.x) workaround:
Step 1 - SSH to your ESXi host and open the following configuration file:
Step 2 - Remove the following line and save the changes
/ui local 8308 redirect allow
Step 3 - Restart the reverse proxy by running the following command:
Step 4 - Open a browser to the following URL: https://[ESXI-HOST]/ui/ and note the additional trailing "slash" at the end of the URL. This is mandatory else the Embedded Host Client page will not properly load.
Note: This only applies to ESXi 6.0 hosts which have been upgraded from ESXi 5.x or pre-ESXi 5.5 Update 3 systems. You may also noticed translation errors when running the Fling on pre-ESXi 6.0, this is expected. For the best experience, we recommend using ESXi 6.0 or waiting until ESXi 5.5 Update 3 is released which will resolve this problem.
Having spent the last couple of months working with both of the Engineers: Etienne Le Sueur and George Estebe, I was able to help provide feedback and usability enhancements and I think you will really like what is there in this first release. I do want to stress that this is in no way, shape or form a comprehensive replacement for the existing vSphere C# Client functionality, but I think it could be a good start if the feedback from customers is positive. I really hope you do give this a try in your lab environment and please let us know what features and capabilities we should add next. There is a variety of way you can provide feedback by leaving a comment on this blog post, leaving a comment on the Flings page.
Big thanks goes out to both George and Etienne who took on the challenge and did a fantastic job on the Fling!