Users can access the VMware vSphere datacenter through the vSphere Client, Web Access through a Web browser, or terminal services (such as Windows Terminal Services).

Only physical host administrators in special circumstances should access hosts. All relevant functions that can be done on the host can also be done in vCenter Server.

VMware vSphere Access and Control
This image shows how VMware vSphere datacenter can be accessed through the vSphere client, Web Access, or terminal services.

The vSphere Client accesses vCenter Server through the VMware API. After the user is authenticated, a session starts in vCenter Server, and the user sees the resources and virtual machines that are assigned to the user. For virtual machine console access, the vSphere Client first obtains the virtual machine location from vCenter Server through the VMware API. It then connects to the appropriate host and provides access to the virtual machine console.


vSphere Web Access cannot be used to access a host running ESXi 4.1.

The vSphere Client includes embedded assistance that guides users who are new to virtualization concepts through the steps to set up their virtual infrastructure. This embedded assistance is in-line content presented in the vSphere Client GUI and an online tutorial. You can turn off the assistance for experienced users. You can turn on assistance when new users are introduced to the system.

Users can access vCenter Server through the Web browser by first pointing the browser to an Apache Tomcat Server set up by vCenter Server. The Apache Tomcat Server mediates the communication between the browser and vCenter Server through the VMware API.

To access the virtual machine consoles through the Web browser, users can use the bookmark that vCenter Server creates. The bookmark first points to the vSphere Web Access.

vSphere Web Access resolves the physical location of the virtual machine and redirects the Web browser to ESX/ESXi where the virtual machine resides.

If the virtual machine is running and the user knows the IP address of the virtual machine, the user can access the virtual machine console by using standard tools, such as Windows Terminal Services.


Web Access is turned off by default for ESX hosts.