Managing VMware environments without Flash

09 August 2016 | By David Baird

We've always loved the traditional Windows C# based VMware client that has been around since the early days of the VMware products, but as not all the vSphere features introduced in vSphere 5.5 and above are available in the traditional client, like many organisations, we have moved to the vSphere Web Client for our VMware management functions.

The Web Client is however heavily dependent on Adobe Flash for its functionality. Unfortunately, Adobe Flash is often flagged in the weekly alerts published by the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-Cert), with critical vulnerabilities frequently being reported - at the time of writing, 138 vulnerabilities had been reported in 2016 relating to Flash. The use of Flash is therefore an issue and many organisations are actively looking to remove support for the application within their environments.

For those clients who need to conform to PCI-DSS standards, and where the use of the VMware client needs to be from within a PCI-DSS compliant environment, having to use a Flash based client is an anathema to them, as it introduces a vulnerable application that consistently requires updates and / or patching to maintain their PCI-DSS compliance.

VMware appears to be listening to the concerns of its customers in relation to this, and have been developing an HTML5/JavaScript based client, that will we hope will succeed the existing Web Client in the near future.

The HTML5 Web Client is available under a Technical Preview License from VMware’s Fling site, and whilst VMware note that it is not yet fully complete, it can be used to provide basic management of the environment. The client can be downloaded as a virtual appliance and integrates with existing VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) or Windows based vCenter using the VMware APIs, a similar method to the Flash based Web Client.

For smaller environments, such as home labs, or where vCenter is not used, VMware have also been developing an HTML/JavaScript application that is served from the standalone ESXi hosts. This ESXi Embedded Host Client is available from the VMware Fling site, and a variant of this, the VMware Host Client was included with the VMware 6.0 update 2 release.

The host clients still have a number of limitations, with VMware focussing on key functions and workflows first, however the ongoing development is encouraging, and feature parity with the vSphere Client may soon be here.

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