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VMware products and features: An overview

Perplexed by the steady stream of VMware products? This overview dissects VMware features and product bundles and helps identify if VMware suits your virtualization environment.

VMware's product line provides a sometimes-confounding array of packages and features, which can be difficult for a virtualization administrator to navigate. This VMware products and features overview demystifies the virtualization platform by breaking down the capabilities of VMware's feature sets as well as how VMware bundles these features into its various virtualization products. This guide is designed to help your company choose the right VMware edition for its virtualization environment -- whether your goal is server consolidation with virtualization and reducing server hardware costs, improved server management or creating a virtualization infrastructure for private cloud computing.

First, VMware's product line is divided into two categories.

  1. data center/server virtualization
  2. desktop virtualization

VMware's core server virtualization hypervisor is ESX Server, but it is offered as the vSphere suite and in various editions with associated features (vSphere was previously known as VMware Infrastructure). A requirement for implementing VMware's vSphere is one of the editions of vSphere, plus VMware's virtualization management software, vCenter.

1. Data center/server virtualization
  1. Free ESXi edition: the free version of VMware ESX/ESXi that allows you to consolidate servers while still using VMware's enterprise-grade hypervisor
  2. vSphere 4/ESX Server: includes ESX and ESXi plus a number of features, depending on the edition of the vSphere suite that you select. Note that all these features require you to purchase vCenter Server (outlined below). Some vSphere features are the following:
    • VMotion: moved running virtual machines (VMs) from one server to another
    • Storage VMotion (SVMotion): moves the virtual disks of a running virtual machine from one data store to another
    • VMware High Availability (or VMware HA, VMHA): reboots running VMs on another ESX server if an ESX host goes down
    • Fault Tolerance (FT): moves a running VMs from one ESX server to another if the server they run on goes down
    • Distributed Power Management (DPM): when demand is low on a virtual infrastructure, running VMs are consolidated onto fewer servers, and unused servers are powered off
    • VMware Consolidated Backup (or VCB): this VMware backup tool enables you to back up running virtual machines using an existing backup application
    • vShield Zones: creates a virtual firewall within your virtual infrastructure
  3. vCenter Server: the centralized management server that manages all ESX servers and enables most vSphere features
  4. VMware Server: a free virtualization platform that runs in an existing Windows or Linux operating system

Finally, VMware features many other VMware Data center products, such as vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) and VMware Data Recovery. Check out the VMware Product List for information on all VMware products. 2. Desktop virtualization

  1. VMware View (includes VMware VDI): used to consolidate desktop PCs into your virtual infrastructure
  2. VMware Workstation: allows you to run multiple operating systems on your desktop PC

And finally, for those interested in virtualization certification, VMware's Certified Professional (VCP) is the most popular option available today. For more information, go to the VCP Web page. 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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As a system administrator in a startup, which product is more suitable to support up to 10 virtual machines