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Saturday, 15 December 2012

ESXi 5.1 Free version

- Hard limit on physical RAM (server will not boot if there is more RAM installed)

BUT, there is a hard limit for physical RAM which stays in place for the ESXi 5.1 Hypervisor. The ESXi box cannot have more than 32GB of RAM, otherwise it will not boot. So if there you have a situation that you got this box with more than 32 Gb RAM, you’ll have 2 options:

1. Take the memory which is over the 32 Gb limit, out of the box.
2. Deactivate the additional slots through the BIOS
- No cloning of virtual machines

- Number of CPU sockets are not limited in ESXi 5 free version, in Essentials kits the limit is 2 CPU sockets per host.

- No Alarms, no SNMP support

But, ESXi 5.1 Free version has other limits. One of them is the non writable APIs for having the possibility to use one of the backup software on the market, and do hot backups

ESXi 5.1 Free version does not have a management, you’ll still need to fire up two or three consoles all the time to manage your ESXi hosts
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 ex. 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 problem. Even when using the free version of ESXi 5. Both ESXi hosts can access via iSCSI, NFS or FC your SAN and create datastores 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 hypervizor.

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, Trilead or PHD Virtual.

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 Advanced, vSphere Enterprise, or vSphere Enterprise Plus.

The first kit for SMBs – vSphere Essentials, which starts at $495.. unlocks quite a lot. Having a paid license (even the cheapest one) unlock the storage APIs and Memory limits. You’ll be able to allocate up to 8 vCPU to your VMs. In the package you’ll get vCenter Server Essentials (limited to manage 3 ESXi hosts).

You’ll be definitely missing out some new products which has been added to the Essentials Plus package, and which you’ll be able to try during 60 days very soon (the 11th of September).

Also, you’ll be missing new features, like the 
new enhanced vMotion, which uses only local server storage to vMotion VMs from one host to another.

In many cases users testing VMware Free hypervisor in 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 a the first phase or testing period finished, the upgrade to the licensed version is a snap, since no reinstallation of ESXi 5 is necessary.

The best way for a small business to go further after tesing the ESXi 5 Free version is to buy an Essentials or Essentials Plus version of VMware vSphere 5. Those kits does include the centralized management – vCenter Server – which can manage up to 3 physical hosts (it’s hard 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.

ESXi 5.1 Free version is good to start with, to build a test lab. But once those tests validated, the host don’t has to be reinstalled in ordert to benefit from the paid features. The paid license unlock those features without the need to rebuild the host – even with the VMs running..