VMware ESXi: Free vs Paid – A Look at License Limitations

VMware’s ESXi virtualization hypervisor is the best in the world. ESXi is the most popular hypervisor for virtual machines, and IT professionals consider it to be the best. VMware offers ESXi in a variety of paid versions, but there is also a free version that anyone can use.
Let’s discuss the limitations of the free ESXi version, what you can use it for and how to download and license it. Although the free version is great for light or home usage, it doesn’t offer any official support or load balancing. You do have access to a support community and it does not expire. You can also test drive products and perform disaster recovery, which is a smart idea regardless of the size of your operation.
What is VMware ESXi?
VMware’s ESXi hypervisor is the world’s best bare-metal. Hypervisors allow you to run multiple servers (also known as virtual machines) on one physical server. Because ESXi is directly installed onto physical hardware and not an application that runs on top of an existing operating environment, we use the term bare metal.
VMware ESXi can be used to manage multiple ESXi servers. It is just one component in the VMware vSphere Suite. VMware ESXi, also known as vSphere Hypervisor is part of the vSphere suite.
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VMware ESXi comes in two versions: a free and a paid version. The best thing about ESXi? Both the paid and free versions use the same installation media. This means that the enterprise solution is included in the free version, but certain features are not available in the paid version.
Here’s a comparison between the features that you get for free and those that you pay for:
Free vSphere HypervisorPaid vSphere HypervisorExpirationNo time limits on free versionNot applicableEvaluation time60-day trial of Enterprise Plus featuresNot applicableCommunity SupportVMTN ForumsVMTN ForumsMaximum physical CPUs2768 (logical)Maximum physical memory16TB16TBMaximum vCPUs per VM8 vCPUs256 vCPUsMaximum vRAM per VM6TB6TBOfficial SupportNoVarious SLAs availableCentral Management (vCenter)NoSupportedHigh Availability (HA)NoSupportedStorage/Backup API usage (VADP)NoYesLive migration of VMs (vMotion)NoSupportedLoad balancing of VMs (DRS)NoSupportedWhat the Free ESXi Version Doesn’t Offer
The chart above shows that there are two important features missing from the chart that can limit its use in a production environment: central management and support.
Support. Support is the most significant difference between paid and free versions. This chart does not show the levels of support. VMware offers a variety of service-level agreements, from the budget-conscious to luxurious.
Central Management. The free version ESXi can be used to develop and test small applications for development purposes. It does not allow for central management. vCenter Server is the paid version of this service. It makes it easier to manage, monitor, and patch your day.
What’s so great about the free version of ESXi
It is not recommended to be used in production environments due to its limitations from a support and management standpoint. However, there are many good uses for the free ESXi, including testing, disaster recovery and personal development.
VMware Products: Test Drive
VMware ESXi is a free tool that allows you to test VMware products like vSAN, NSX and vRealize suite. This is why they offer an ESXi Evaluation License. If you have the right hardware, ESXi can be installed on top of ESXi to create a virtual machine that allows you to test different versions in your lab environment, before you use them in production.
VMware Professional Development
The free version can also be used for professional development and training. To learn more, download the free version.

Author: Alexander