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Over the course of the previous few years we’ve seen a steady improvement in the vSphere Web Client. VMware has been listening to the feedback coming in from our field, partners, and customers. And the feedback is that the vSphere Web Client in vCenter Server 6.0 and 6.0 Update 1 has been a really great step forward in terms of User Experience (UX). With that in mind, many of the improvements of the 6.0 vSphere Web Client have been “backported” to the vSphere Web Client in vCenter Server 5.5 Update 3. The primary scope of the backported functionality was to greatly improve performance while maintaining the consistency of the 5.5 User Interface (UI). So, while vSphere Web Client performance has drastically improved with 5.5 U3, the UI elements have stayed the same which makes it easier for Administrators to continue using the 5.5 Web Client.

Throughout this blog post I’ll highlight some of the enhancements that have been brought to the vSphere Web Client in 5.5 Update 3. This is especially important as we see customers continue to leverage the legacy vSphere Client (also referred to as the legacy C# client). Our goal is to make the Web Client everyone’s primary management tool for vCenter Server & vSphere and continuing to improve performance has been an essential requirement in doing that.

vSphere Web Client – Areas of Improvement

There are several key areas where we’ve seen a significant improvement in performance over previous versions of the 5.5 Web Client:

  • Action menu as well as the right-click menu
  • Related Objects, Summary, and Settings pages
  • Wizards
  • Login
  • Performance charts

These improvements were accomplished by a number of optimizations behind the scenes which includes the streamlining of pre-loaded data and reducing the number of queries required to build a view, page, or menu. The team also felt it was important to consider the impact of the size of both the inventory and vCenter Server instance. Two testbed environments that were used to test these new optimizations were:

  • Small – vCenter Server (4 vCPU / 16 GB RAM), 2 hosts, 4 VMs
  • Large – vCenter Server (32 vCPU / 64 GB RAM), 1000 hosts, 15000 VMs

By using this wide range of environments the team was able to show marked improvements in the user experience regardless of the size of environments you may be managing.

Performance Comparison

In the charts that follow we’ll see the normalized performance data of the vSphere Web Client prior to the optimizations included in 5.5 Update 3 compared to the performance after the inclusion of those optimizations. The improvement is quite significant in many areas, not limited to what’s shown below. In fact, the vSphere Web Client included in vCenter Server 5.5 U3 is on par with the performance in 6.0 Update 1 in some areas.

vSphere Web Client - Login Time

Another pain point was the Action Menu (which is also the Right-Click Menu). Depending on the object we’re interacting with we see slightly different performance characteristics. This is due to the context of the object and the types of actions that need to be loaded. For example, a VM object has very different actions available to it than a Cluster or Data Center object. Here’s a chart that shows the normalized response times of some of the different object types.

vSphere Web Client - Action Menu

As you can see, there is significant improvement across the board for the Action Menu. Administrators will definitely notice these optimizations in their day to day activities. An additional area where administrators identified as an area for improvement was the Performance Charts. Clicking, resizing, refreshing, and changing objects & metrics were all operations that caused delays in the vSphere Web Client. The chart below shows the nearly 60% improvement, on average, of the 5.5 U3 Web Client!

vSphere Web Client - Performance Charts

Finally, the Related Objects view in the vSphere Web Client has also seen improvements in response times in 5.5 U3. The Related Objects view is where we can see objects related to the object we’re currently viewing. For example, if we’re viewing the configuration of an ESXi Host, we can click on the Related Objects tab of that host and see all the VMs, VM templates, datastores, and networks that are registered to that host. As you might imagine, this area of the vSphere Web Client is a commonly used view and any performance increase is very welcome. In the chart below we can see a large reduction in the time it takes to generate the Related Objects view for a Data Center, Cluster, Host, VM, and Distributed Switch object. In other words, when I look at all the VMs that are running under a Cluster, there is a better than 40% reduction in the time it takes to generate that view. The chart below shows normalized averages across our test environments.

vSphere Web Client - Related Objects

Conclusion

In summary, while vCenter Server 5.5 Update 3 was mostly a bugfix and compatibility update release there was significant effort put into enhancing the User Experience of vSphere Administrators using the vSphere Web Client. There has definitely been a substantial improvement surpassing prior versions of the 5.5 Web Client and in many areas it is on par with version 6.0! Our goal is to have as many people as possible transitioning from the C# client to the Web Client and with recent releases of vCenter Server VMware has put in great efforts to enable that transition.

For more information you can also take a look at the VMworld US 2015 break out session entitled, “vSphere Web Client – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” and presented by Dennis Lu, Product Manager, and Yavor Boychev, Manager R&D.

For updates on vCenter Server, follow @vCenterServer on Twitter.

About the Author

Adam Eckerle leads the vSphere Technical Marketing team in the Cloud Platform Business Unit at VMware. This team is responsible for vSphere launch, enablement, and ongoing content generation for the VMware field, Partners, and Customers. In addition, Adam’s team is also focused on preparing Customers and Partners for vSphere upgrades through workshops, VMUGs, and other events.