To quote the great American author Mark Twain, “The report of my death has been grossly exaggerated”, and this very much applies to Java.
Java is very much alive and kicking, as is the management interface to the PS Series array. However, it is the end of the line for the Netscape Plugin Application Programing Interface (NPAPI), which has enabled many web browser plug-ins and extensions, including Java. So from Java’s perspective, the end of NPAPI is only a minor setback, one that is best summarized by the words of another great writer (and actor) John Cleese: "It's just a flesh wound!"
NPAPI was first released in 1995 with Netscape Navigator 2.0, and was supported by every major browser released since then. This allowed plug-ins and extensions to be developed for web browsers, enabling a host of rich content to be accessed through a simple desktop browser. That was until 2014, when major web browsers announced that the end was nigh. This was mainly due to the API’s age, security issues and the strong adoption of plug-in free browser technologies such as HTML5. The end of NPAPI brings to an end the once-popular Java web browser plug-in used by many interfaces, including the one provided with PS Series storage.
So what does this mean for managing your Dell PS Series array? This is not the end of the line for Java. It is just the end of the ability to launch Java applications from within a web browser. You can still manage your PS array using the same user interface as you always have. You just can’t launch it from a web browser:
However, after some minimal ground work, you’ll be back in business — browser-free and using Java:
And that’s it!*
That is not your only option. For those who are also SC Series storage customers, earlier this year we released Dell Storage Manager (DSM) 2016 R1, the successor to the SC Series Enterprise Manager. While DSM is part of the SC Series ecosystem, it has been extended to manage Dell PS Series arrays running firmware 7.0 and above. You can take this a step further if you have both PS and SC arrays in your environment, and replicate in either direction between PS and SC storage. For more information, see this two-part video series on day-to-day management of PS Series with DSM, as well as this solutions guide and video series on replicating between PS and SC Series arrays.
For those who wear the dual hats of vSphere and storage administrator, the Dell Virtual Storage Manager enables full management of PS Series storage from within the vSphere Web Client. This includes everything from provisioning VMFS, NFS (FS76xx required) or a VVol datastore, to protecting virtual machines with application-consistent, array-based snapshots and configuring block-based replication for disaster recovery of your virtual environment. You won’t ever have to leave the comfort of the vSphere Web Client.
Finally, there is the ever-present CLI, which can be taken a step further using scripts. Windows PowerShell, along with the Host Scripting Tools, which support both Windows and Linux with Perl and Python. These scripting tools enable not only day-to-day management, but also extend PS Series capabilities into areas not currently covered by Dell Host Integration Tools for Microsoft, VMware and Linux.
When the last of the browsers disables NPAPI, it won’t be missed. It has already been replaced and no one will shed a tear. But it will be remembered for the important part it played in the history of the internet and the richness it brought to our simple web browsers for over 20 years.
*The fine print: Depending upon your OS, browser and Java versions and security settings, there may be additional steps. This KB article covers some additional combinations. But the essence is the same — get the Java applet and run it directly in Java.