ESXi Free Version Limitations

I thought that after my previous post about ESXi really being free, I would write a post with the limitations I’ve noticed when you don’t have vCenter Server.  Having never used ESXi before and always having had vCenter I didn’t really know what to expect.

This is surely not an exhaustive list, but just things I’ve noticed so far.  Some of the items on these lists  really go into the differences of the licensed versions of the product, and I haven’t noted that here. (Standard, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus)

In no particular order….

* No cloning of virtual machines (Instead I just copy a machine directly on the data store and ‘add to inventory’)

* No templates (same as above)

* No Virtual Consolidated Backup (VCB) (With the free version you do not have access to download it at all)

* No Virtual Data Recovery (VDR) (same as above)

* No Clustering

* No vMotion

* Performance charts only display ‘Real Time’ statistics

* No Alert features

* No console on the host.  Management is ONLY through VIC

* Symantec’s VMWare agent will not work

* Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS)

* Power Management features

* Dynamically adding CPU and RAM to a running Guest

[UPDATE] * vStorage APIs (why Symantec’s AVVI will not work)


Things I was surprised to see…

* AD Integration for security in the Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC)

* Resource groups

* Performance statistics of any kind

* Guest automatic startup/shutdown features



For now this is all I can think of.  I will try and keep this list in mind and update it as I notice other things.

Post a comment if there is something you have noticed!

ESXi Really Is Free!

Now that I’m past my first month at the new gig I have learned quite a bit.  I’ve gotten a handle on the environment and layout here, and I’m still finding things every day.  There are a few things that have been quite an adjustment to get used to.

One of the things I miss the most is VirtualCenter and shared storage.  When I first got here there was no virtualization and when we started discussing it the folks around here were pretty set that we would use Hyper-V.  The primary reason for this is that my new company is on a program for start-up companies called BizSpark which allows you access to any Microsoft product with deferred payment, so Hyper-V was essentially no cost for a while.   I recall hearing that ESXi is a free license when your just installing it on a single server, so I started poking around.  Without shared storage though, you cant do anything more with Hyper-V than you can with ESXi.  It turns out that ESXi is indeed available free of cost, and if you go onto VMWare’s website you can register, download, and get a license code for it in just a few minutes!

I installed ESXi 4.1 onto our new Dell server, setup my local storage, networking and authentication, and started setting up new guests just as I would have if we did have shared storage and VirtualCenter.  There are limitations, but many of them are management and monitoring/alerting features. Without VirtualCenter your not going to be able to VMotion, DRS, and several other advance features, but without shared storage you cant anyway!  As far as core functionality and usability the product really is complete and usable.

One of the notable limitations I’ve experienced is the lack of performance monitoring.  You only get the ‘RealTime’ reports of performance on your Host and Guests.  To relieve some of this I’ve downloaded Veeam’s (also free) Monitoring software.  It has more enhanced monitoring of the environment, although it also is limited and only allows for historical reports back 1 week.

All in all, with some known limitations, but a greatly improved price tag, you CAN run VMWare for free.

New Beginnings

After nearly 9 years working at the same place, several things fell into place indicating the time was right to move to a new challenge.  It was hard to leave all the people behind, and also stressful starting a new job.  My new company is a small software startup, and I was about the 17th employee.  The people are great, and it is a nice relaxed atmosphere.  It is an exicitng business space, and there is a lot of energy around what we are trying to do.

There is no other IT staff, and they probably needed a person a year ago, so there is a lot to be done.   I need to split out the Small Business Server to get Exchange, AD, Sharepoint, SQL and everything else out on its own.  I need to setup a VM environment for the dev team and QA.  There needs to be some desktop imaging solution for all the growth that they say is coming.  I just hope that they can prioritize what they want done first and that everyone else can understand that there is no quick way to do things right.  The age of zip-ties and duct tape is over!


More to come about the new environment and its challenges.