vSphere Client for the iPad

The VMware Community Roundtable, which is recorded every Wednesday, has been available for download from iTunes for the last couple of years or about as long has the podcast has been presented on TalkShoe.com.  Other than the community podcast and The Virtualization Security Podcast there have not really been too many other things available on iTunes for VMware technologies or products. You could find a VCP study guide, VCP Exam Cram from Pearson Education and some other third party tools to control VMware vCenter from your iPhone and/or iPad.  Within the last couple of years there have been hundreds if not thousands of iPads that have been given away at the different technology conferences and the sneak peak from VMware at these conferences, on the iPad application that they are working on, it was just a matter of time and that time has come with VMware releasing the VMware View for iPad and the VMware vSphere Client for the iPad.

I have gotten a chance to download and install the vSphere Client for iPad and at first glance I really like the graphics and presentation of the application itself, but I must be honest… I wish it would really be able to do more.  This is version 1.0 of the application and enhancements are bound to be added and tweaked over time. VMware has presented the iPad Client to be able to view key performance metrics and perform essential tasks in a simplified interface. VMware goes on to be clear that the vSphere iPad Client was not meant to be functionally equivalent with the existing Windows client, but rather to have the ability to perform the most common 80% of the vSphere administrators’ tasks.

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VMware has presented the vSphere Client for iPad with these key functionalities and abilities,

  • Search for vSphere hosts and virtual machines
  • Monitor the performance of vSphere hosts and virtual machines
  • Manage virtual machines with the ability to start, stop and suspend
  • View and restore virtual machines’ snapshots
  • Reboot vSphere hosts or put them into maintenance mode
  • Diagnose vSphere hosts and virtual machines using built-in ping and traceroute tools

These are nice abilities, but I really expected more from the application especially how long this tool has been in development and has been hyped over time with the different sneak peak videos that have been available on YouTube as well as VMware’s website. At the very least, I was hoping and or expecting the iPad client to be able to handle just about any and all tasks or function that I would need to perform while I was on-call or called, while out of the house, to handle any infrastructure emergency.  In some ways I have some extra abilities with my iPad since it is JailBroken and I have added a ssh terminal as one of “special” application that I can use to connect to the shell of the VMware ESX hosts themselves.  I am just looking to be able to leave my big, bulky and very heavy laptop at home and replace with something that has a much longer battery life, much easier to carry around everywhere and that gives me other options to perform my job and service my clients’ needs no matter where I am.

There are two components that make up the client and the connection into vSphere.  First, you need the VMware vSphere Client for the iPad from the iTunes store and you will also need the vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) virtual appliance, which is available free of charge from the VMware Labs Site If you have played with the Mobile Access Appliance before you will notice that it has most of the same functionality as what is presented with the iPad Client.  They are the same backend and entry point into the vSphere infrastructure but the vSphere iPad application have much better graphics and overall presentation to the end user but appliance is still the same.

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So what would I like to see different?  I would love to see Alive VM be added as part of the client in one way or another.  I would love to see much better performance presentation of hosts by getting the advanced performance counters from ESXTOP available.  I would really like the see the ability to add or change permissions or roles from the iPad client.

This is version 1.0 and really does look promising and we will just have to wait and see what direction VMware takes and pushes the product in the form of functionality.  What would you like to see added and why?  I am really curious to see what my peers would like to see added to the product as well as what you think of the iPad Application and how it will really help you to perform your day to day jobs.

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