We are well aware about what is a plug-in, so here the focus would be on the concept and usage of plug-ins in computing. To encapsulate the textbook definition, Plug-in is that software component which adds a particular feature to the already existing application or a computer program.

VMware also allows this feature in its vSphere Web Client. vSphere Web Client plug-in is a program that is designed to extend the user interface for Web Client to a browser. It allows an administrator to connect to a Server (vCenter server) system and manages the vSphere client environment. VMware gives the third party developers the facility to customize the plug-in according to its use and product.

Virtualization and Storage go hand-in-hand and it is an essential step to speed up computing in cloud. Plug-in helps storage agencies to achieve efficiency and simplicity in data center operations. It provides permission to vCenter Server to perform storage related tasks easily.

In the vCenter Server, the plugin is installed as a part or package to map entities between virtualization and storage.

Internal Working Structure of Plug-in

vCenter Server can be connected using vSphere web client or vSphere client.

Once one authenticates successfully, a user session is identified in the vSphere Client.

The plug-in is customized depending on the third-party developer. Icons, extensions visible are dependent on the product and permission to its user. There are list of plug-ins registered with vCenter Server. The location of configuration files is stored and redirects the vSphere Client web page to it.

This configuration file is parsed by the vSphere Client. In addition to these extensions, components or icons are added to the UI system to be displayed depending on what is defined in the file. And when this button for the plug-in is being clicked, the web server is connected through client and that specified information is send in the URL which also includes sessionId, moref, serviceUrl, Locale

Requirements to develop Plug-in

To develop plug-in module for the vSphere Web Client, we require following requisites:

  • A vCenter Server Virtual Appliance or vCenter Server depending on vSphere client 6.x or 5.x so that we can connect vSphere web client to it.
  • An environment that is capable of developing Flex web applications and Java-based web applications.
  • A text editor for creating XML files.
  • A build of the vSphere Web Client on a web server that runs the vSphere Web Client Virgo server framework.
  • To install the plug-in separate from the vSphere Web Client we can connect it to an ESXi host and upgrade or deploy the vCenter Server Appliance, browser should support the plug-in.

Uses of Plug-in

To enhance development process we use integrated development environments. These plug-ins or extensions are either URLs, icons or configuration files that are accessed by external programs and are displayed in UI items in vSphere Client. We use the Integration plug-in to deploy OVF or OVA templates and transfer files with the datastore browser and also plug-in is used to connect virtual devices that reside on a client computer to a virtual machine. Main purpose of using the plug-in is to allow third-party developers to enhance and extend an application and also add new features.

vCenter plug-ins provide solve many purposes:

  • Displaying a dynamic and static Web page.
  • Managing the inventory of vCenter server and fetching information related to host systems, virtual machines and so forth.
  • Information and performance statistics about events.

Evolvement of vCenter plug-in

– vCenter Client Integration 5.0

vSphere Client plug-in provides administrators the flexibility to monitor and manage functions from the vSphere client. VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat operational tasks and alarms are registered with it which enables user to view this information directly from the vCenter Client.

– vCenter Client Integration 5.1

In 5.1 the functionality of the vSphere Web Client got easy to extend. Now a user can add/upgrade almost everything that they can interact with in the user interface. The documentation provides third-party developers with the information that is necessary to create new extensions and functionality quickly.

– vCenter Client Integration 5.5

In 5.5 we can use the plug-in to manage multiple vCenter Server instances. We can create workflows that use plug-in API to automate tasks in vCenter Server environment.

The plug-in maps the vCenter Server API to the JavaScript that can be used in workflows. The plug-in also provides actions that performs individual vCenter Server tasks that can be included in workflows.

The vCenter Server plug-in provides a library of standard workflows(create/clone/migrate/delete) that automate vCenter Server operations

– vCenter Client Integration 6.0

In 6.0 Suite UI was enabled by default for the vSphere Web Client.

Now we need to download .iso installer for the vCenter Server Appliance and Client Integration Plug-in separately. While installing Client Integration plugin double-click “html” file in the software installer directory that allows access to the Client Integration Plug-In and click Install/Upgrade to start the vCSA deployment.

– vCenter Client Integration 6.5

Client Integration Plugin was previously a necessity for few functions in the vSphere Web Client.

Most of these have been modified to remove any kind of dependency:

  • OVF Export & Deploy
  • Upload/Download files in datastore
  • Import/Export of Content Library

Limitations of Plug-in

  • Plugin-6.0 cannot be installed with account credentials of window system
  • Installing and uninstalling of Plug-in might fail if there is some antivirus software running on machine.
  • vSphere Web Client login page may or may not detect correct version of plug-in.

Future Scope

vCenter Server edition will be vCSA and VMware applications will be compatible with vCSA. Lighter version of vCSA will be included in each ESXi host so that we don’t need the vSphere Client for Windows for future vSphere deployments. Third party developers will continue to convert their vSphere Client for Windows plug-ins to be compatible with the vCSA.

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