Many IT departments feel the squeeze from the current economic crisis and have seen their budgets slashed. When times are tough you must get creative, and the best way to do that is to utilize products that won’t cost you a dime. Can’t afford new ESX licenses right now? Why not recycle some of that older hardware with one of the free hypervisors? Or better yet, take one of your big servers that only runs one application and install ESXi so you can run other applications concurrently. Let’s go over some free products that you can download and use in your VMware environment.
VMware Server – Version 2.0 has lots of new features and can be installed on several versions of Windows, Linux and almost any hardware.
VMware ESXi – The entry-level edition of VMware’s enterprise-class hypervisor; the installable version installs bare metal on a variety of supported and unsupported hardware.
VMware Player – A great tool for starting up virtual machines without installing a full hypervisor on your system.
The VMware appliance marketplace has hundreds of free appliances that span a variety of categories. Appliances range from simple firewalls to enterprise monitoring systems to full-blown Web and database packages (LAMP). You can run these appliances with VMware Player or import them into ESX/Server/Workstation and run them there.
Free management and reporting tools:
Embotics v-Scout – A free, agentless tool for tracking and reporting on virtual machines in VMware VirtualCenter-enabled environments.
Hyper-9 – This soon-to-be-released free search-based reporting tool is a great addition to every administrator’s toolbox. Watch for its release around the end of the year. If you are interested in participating in a beta version of this tool, drop me an email. Not all beta requests will be approved and the company is looking for feedback if you do participate.
RVTools – A handy little tool that displays a multitude of information about your virtual machines.
Solarwinds VM Monitor – A free management tool that monitors ESX hosts and virtual machines.
VMotion Info – A free utility that gathers system and CPU information from your hosts and puts it in a single overview to check for VMotion compatibility.
VM Explorer – A management tool that eases management, backup and disaster recovery tasks in your VMware ESX Server environment.
MCS StorageView – A utility that displays all of the logical partitions, operating systems, capacity, free space and percent free of all virtual machines on ESX 3.x or Virtual Center 2.x .
ESX HealthCheck – A script that collects configuration information and other data for ESX hosts and generates a report in HTML format.
Free administration tools:
Putty – A must-have utility for every administrator to remotely SSH into their ESX hosts.
Veeam FastSCP – A great SSH file transfer utility application.
WinSCP – Another speedy SSH file transfer utility application.
KS QuickConfig – Designed to reduce the time needed to deploy and configure VMware ESX servers as well as eliminate inconsistencies that can arise with manual operations.
VP Snapper – A free utility that lets you revert to multiple VM snapshots at once rather than one-by-one.
VMware Converter – VMware’s free application that lets you perform physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual operations.
vmCDconnected – A handy utility that scans all virtual machines in your infrastructure and shows if they have a CD connected to any of them. After scanning you can disconnect all of the CDs with a click of a button.
CPU Identification Utility – VMware’s free utility that displays CPU features for VMotion compatibility, EVC and 64-bit VMware support.
VMTS Patch Manager – A great ESX host-patching application for those who don’t have Update Manager.
Free backup utilities:
VISBU – A free backup utility that runs from the Service Console and provides VMDK-level backups of any VM in storage that is accessible by the host.
VM Backup Script – A backup script to perform hot backups of your virtual machines.
Free storage utilities:
Openfiler – A free, open source, browser-based storage appliance that supports NFS and iSCSI. It can be downloaded as an ISO file to install on a server or as a VMware appliance to import to an ESX host. A great way to get more shared disk in your environment by turning physical servers into network-attached storage servers or turning the local disk on your ESX hosts into shared disk when using the appliance.
Xtravirt Virtual SAN – A free solution that turns local disk space on your ESX hosts into shared VMFS volumes to avoid purchasing costly storage area network disk space.
Free security tools:
Tripwire ConfigCheck – A free utility that rapidly assesses the security of VMware ESX 3.0 and 3.5 hypervisor configurations compared to the VMware Infrastructure 3 Security Hardening guidelines.
Configuresoft Compliance Checker – A free tool that provides a real-time compliance check that can analyze multiple VMware ESX host servers at a time. Also provides detailed compliance checks against both the VMware Hardening Guidelines and the CIS benchmarks for ESX.
If you know of any other free tools that you use in your VMware environment, feel free to list them in the comments section of this post.