This isn’t just another article about vSphere 5. It’s not my aim simply to rattle off a list of new and improved features. There are probably a plethora of those posts out there already, some better than others – use Google to find them.
I was inspired to write this after I saw white paper linked to on Twitter about the differences between ESX and ESXi written by Global Knowledge. Actually it was the responses to that article that prompted me.
Of all of the many changes announced today, it is the departure of the Service Console that is perhaps the most significant in my view. It may not be a new, super-whizzy feature and many people are already using ESXi and might be thinking “so what”. For me, removing the COS / SC / Service Console is significant for two reasons.
Firstly, no longer can the unenlightened refer to vSphere as “Linux based” or “Unix based”. ESX never really was that and it wound me up more than it should have done when people got it wrong. I have a strong Microsoft background (although I can hold my own when it comes to Unix / Linux OSs) but in some companies that seemed to exclude me from touching VMware infrastructure even though I knew all about it. Ok, that’s more of a pet peeve than a significant reason.
My other one though is that to me this signifies the direction in which VMware are taking virtualisation. It may even be more accurate to say that dropping the Service Console marks the completion of a transition or a journey. ESX was an excellent way for enterprises to make efficient use of powerful hardware amongst many other benefits but there was always a glass ceiling there.
Some say that ESXi isn’t as flexible because it doesn’t have a command line. Perhaps they don’t realise that it really doesn’t need one. Occasionally, when things go wrong, SSH access is useful and ESXi does provide that. But for day to day usage there are better and more efficient ways to manage a Virtual Infrastructure (PowerCLI, vCenter or one of the many VMware and 3rd party products) and dropping the Service Console is both recognition and reinforcement of that. ESXi turns the hypervisor into commodity or utility platform, it’s not a management interface in its own right. ESXi is a foundation stone for building a dynamic, automated infrastructure so forget about the Service Console now.
In some ways I’ll be sorry to see it go but ESX was a means to an end and it has reached its end.
Michael is a Senior Consultant for Xtravirt. If it's got buttons or flashy lights on it then it'll probably be on his radar. When not "mending computers" (it's sometimes easier than explaining "cloud" to relatives), Michael provides essential education, entertainment and trampoline services to his two children.