Understanding VMware ESXi features

If you're concerned about the ostensible 'limitations' of ESXi – VMware's scaled-down free hypervisor – an expert outlines ESXi's core features and compares ESXi and ESX.

VMware ESXi Server is VMware's free bare-metal hypervisor. It is the same hypervisor used in VMware's enterprise-class virtualization solution, vSphere but in a scaled-down free version. Unlike VMware Server or Workstation, you install VMware ESXi directly on your hardware and because it doesn't have the underlying host operating system, it offers so much more performance that those options.

ESXi comes in three editions: free ESXi, ESXi Installable, and ESXi Embedded. The latter two editions are part of VMware's vSphere suite and are enterprise solutions that can perform the same vSphere features as ESX full or classic. ESXi server comes with the vSphere client for virtualization management. This makes the configuration and management of ESXi virtual machines quick and easy.

ESXi Server offers the same performance as ESX Server (full or classic) but it lacks the service console that is used for command line management. To solve this issue, VMware offers the free vSphere Management Assistant (vMA) and vSphere command-line interface (vCLI) which are both compatible with the free edition of VMware ESXi Server.

Core ESXi features

ESXi's core features are the following:

  • Memory overcommittment and deduplication, which allow for higher consolidation ratios;
  • Huge scalability with up to 64 logical processing cores, 256 virtual CPUs, and 1 TB of RAM per host, enabling higher consolidation ratios;
  • Memory ballooning;
  • Network traffic shaping;
  • Network interface card teaming (or NIC teaming);
  • VMware vSphere client allows for easy graphical user interface management;
  • VMware Power command-line interface (or PowerCLI) and vCLI;
  • and many more.

See VMware ESXi Server features for the complete list of ESXi Server features.

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About the author:
David Davis is the director of infrastructure at TrainSignal.com -- the global leader in video training for IT pros. He has several certifications including vExpert, VMware Certified Profession (or VCP), CISSP, and CCIE #9369. Additionally, Davis has authored hundreds of articles and six video training courses at Train Signal, where one of the most popular course is the VMware vSphere 4 video training course. His website is VMwareVideos.com. You can follow Davis on Twitter or connect with him at David on LinkedIn.

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