September 11, 2012, 11:37 AM — Today marks the official release of VMware's vSphere 5.1, and despite the point release, there's much more to this version than minor updates and bug fixes. In fact, this is a release that would have been comfortable wearing the number 6.
There's a lot going on in 5.1, and I've had only a few days to play with it in the lab. Still, my overall impression out of the gate is positive, with a few qualifications.
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The first major change is the client. While the existing Windows-based client is still present, VMware has marked the 5.1 release as the point where the transition to the Web client begins, with a road map toward phasing out the fat client at some point in the near future.
The Web client is a Flash-based interface delivered to a browser, and it has a look and feel that's completely different from the Windows client. It definitely takes some getting used to, as the fat client has long been the management portal into vSphere.
On the left is the object navigator, where you'll find objects relevant to the current focus, such as data centers, clusters, hosts, and virtual machines in the Hosts and Clusters view, and data stores in the Datastores and Datastore Clusters view. In the middle is the current activity focus that will display whatever selection has been made on the left, such as viewing a host summary or a VM configuration tab. On the right is a sidebar containing recent tasks, current tasks, and alarms.
Selecting a host on the left brings up several tabs that can display a host summary, performance information, settings, and so forth. These are navigated by tabs at the top of the main display. There's also a Related Objects tab that displays other elements related to the host, such as virtual machines, data stores, and networks. Each object on the right will have a Related Objects tab, which makes it easy to jump from one view to another within the same focus.