We are excited to announce that VMware vSphere Client for iPad is available for immediate download from the Apple App Store. The VMware vSphere Client for iPad is a companion interface to the traditional vSphere client and is optimized for managing your vSphere environment on the go from your iPad. With this client you can monitor the performance of vSphere hosts and virtual machines. You can also start, stop and suspend virtual machines, reboot them or put them into maintenance mode.
In this post I’m going to give you some background on the thinking and design principles behind this app. I’ll also give you some hints on what its future might look like, but first, allow me to get some basics out of the way:
- To view a demo of the app, click here.
- To view a demo of how to set up the vCMA appliance, click here.
- To download the app, visit Apple app store
- To download the vCMA appliance, click here.
- To pose questions or provide feedback, visit our community forum here.
Duh, it is the apps, stupid!
We believe that mobile devices are the next-generation PC and consequently, they will be used for more than making phone calls, checking emails or browsing the web. It is all about the apps – not just consumer apps but also enterprise apps. We see a world where employees own multiple devices and switch between them during the course of a day. Our strategy is to allow users to leverage any device any time to run any app so they are more productive. This is part of the three-prong approach to mobile devices that I wrote about in 2009.
To that end, we are committed to developing mobile interfaces for our management products.
When we started on this journey, we wanted to validate two assumptions:
- That IT folks will actually want to manage aspects of their datacenters from mobile devices because it is convenient and
- That IT folks favor usability over a comprehensive feature list.
To test out our assumptions, we shipped the VMware vCenter Mobile Access appliance as a fling in 2009 to allow IT administrators to manage their vSphere deployments from mobile devices through a browser-based interface. (The video is a must see.) We received a lot of positive feedback with thousands of downloads. Assumptions validated!
When the iPad was released, a few of us got together to figure out how we could take the user interface to the next level. Somehow the notion of using the browser interface wasn’t very appetizing so we started with a clean slate with three design guidelines:
- Forget the existing Windowsy interface
- The app must look and feel like a native iPad app
- Only expose those features that 80% of the users will use 80% of the time.
We demoed early prototypes of the app at VMworld 2010 in San Francisco and Copenhangen and received a lot of positive feedback. Mostly it was along the lines of, ‘all good but when can I get it?’ What you see in the app you download today is what we came up with.
Where do we go from here?
First, it is not our goal to replicate every single vSphere client feature with this app. Second, our design principles remain the same. Bottom line: we want this app to do a few things really well. To that end, your feedback is crucial so please join us in the community forums at: http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/vsphere/ipadclient. The product teams will be actively participating here.
We realize that the mobile industry is very dynamic and the traditional once-a-year (approx.) release cadence doesn’t quite work for this app. So we are dedicated to updating this app much more frequently.
Before you ask, supporting Android tablets is on our radar. We are closely monitoring the many exciting developments there and once these devices get traction, we intend to have an Android client as well.
As we consider additional features to implement, one idea we are kicking around is to build multiple smaller apps (micro apps?) rather than one big app. Each of these micro apps would be focused on one or two use cases and provide the best possible interface to achieve the tasks you set out to do. Is that the right approach? If so, what would be some of the other apps you’d like to see? Let’s keep this conversation going on the community forums.
And, of course, there are other VMware product teams in various stages of developing mobile interfaces for their products so stay tuned for more news on that front.
Finally, a call out to all the awesome folks who worked on making this app a reality – including the wonderful folks at Momentum Labs. Well done, team!