What're the limitations of the ESXi 6.x Free Edition – the VMware vSphere Hypervisor? The free version of the VMware vSphere Hypervisor – ESXi 6.x, has got some limitations. I know it's been discussed on many places already, but I'm still getting questions about that and so I wanted to clear this out.
Which use cases for VMware ESXi free version? It can be a lab, it can be a monitoring software running, or it can be some non production workloads which you don't care if you lose them.
You could always backup those VMs by isntalling for example a Veeam Free Agent into those VMs and do an image-level backup, but you can not use Veeam backup and replication to backup those VMs.
What's the principal limitations of the ESXi 6.x – The Free version of VMware Hypervizor?
A number of Physical CPU limit – There is a hard limit of 2. You can have server which has Two physical socket on the motherboard only. You cannot use hosts with 4 sockets for the free version.
Number of vCPU per VM – You can only create VMs with up to 8 vCPU. If you create VM with let's say 10 or 12 vCPU, and you can do it, you won't be able to power ON such VMs unless you buy an ESXi license.
Note: You don't necessarily need to deploy vCenter Server, but you will need to assign a paid CPU license to the ESXi host in order to unlock the API.
Management Options – with the VMware Free Hypervisor you manage single server only. With the vSphere client, you connect to your ESXi host to manage your VMs etc… If you have many ESX hosts…… you can only manage them one-by-one. For example, you're running 2 ESXi hosts, you connect to them with 2 different vSphere client sessions.
But on the other hand, concerning the storage, the VMs can live on shared storage without a problem. Even when using the free version of ESXi 5. Both ESXi hosts can access via iSCSI, NFS or FC your SAN and create data stores etc…. but you won't be able to use vMotion, HA and other advanced vSphere 5 features because you don't have the option of central management with the VMware Free hypervisor.
Other Limitations – There are other limitations like CLI is available in read-only access or no SNMP support. Full read-write access is necessary for all commercial backup/recovery solutions like Veeam, Altar, Vembu or others…..
A quick quote from VMware KB2005377:
vCLI, PowerCLI, and vSphere SDk for Perl are limited to read-only access for the free vSphere Hypervisor edition. To enable full functionality of vCLI on a VMware ESXi host, the host must be licensed with vSphere Essentials, vSphere Essential Plus, vSphere Standard, vSphere Enterprise, or vSphere Enterprise Plus.
In many cases users testing VMware Free hypervisor in a production environment for not important workloads or for testing virtualization, because there are still many, many companies which don't use virtualization at all. So it's the best way to start with. And after the first phase or testing period finished, the upgrade to the licensed version is a snap, since no reinstallation of ESXi 5 is necessary. Another point that I wanted to clear out… -:).
The best way for a small business to go further after testing the ESXi 5 Free version is to buy an Essentials or Essentials Plus version of VMware vSphere 5. Those kits do include the centralized management – vCenter Server – which can manage up to 3 physical hosts (it's hard to limit). Besides using the centralized management to manage the VMs from one central location, the more advanced features, like HA (High availability) and vMotion are included (in the Essentials Plus version). High Availability (HA) can automatically restart a VMs on another host if the underlying host where the VMs has been running has a hardware problem and fails. vMotion can migrate VM from one host to another without downtime.
- How to Configure VMware High Availability (HA) Cluster
- ESXi FREE Web Client Interface
- What are VMware Learning Credits?
- What is VMware Learning Zone?
More from ESX Virtualization
- What is VMware Cluster?
- What is VMware Storage DRS (SDRS)?
- VMware vSAN Upgrade Scenarios For Small Clusters
- What is The Difference between VMware vSphere, ESXi, and vCenter
- What Is Erasure Coding?
- What is VMware vSAN Caching Tier?
- How VMware HA Works?