Monday, April 4, 2011

VMware Server vs. ESXi Server

These days I run both VMware Server and VMware’s ESXi server but when I was first looking into using virtual machines I didn’t quite understand the differences between them. Here are some of the good and bad with both VMware Server and VMware’s ESXi server as I see them:
  • VMware Server
    • Good:
      • Server software that runs on top of Windows OS.
      • You can take your existing VMs (made via VMware Workstation), copy them over to the Windows Server and just run them. Simple!
      • Easy and quick to run VMs from the console in VMware Server.
      • Use any modern web browser to access VMs.
      • Free!
    • Bad:
        • Discontinued, meaning VMware no longer supports it.
        • Server can be much slower because it's running on top of Windows and your existing resources are used to power the Windows Server.

    • VMware ESXi Server
      • Good:
        • Free!
        • Uses vSphere management console which is far more powerful than what is provided via the web browser.
        • ESXi can be much faster / more efficient with resources. Uses it's own Linux OS so you are literally installing the hypervisor directly on the machine instead of using Windows to communicate.
      • Bad:
        • Longer install time
        • You must convert all your existing VMs over before being used.
        • Requires separate management software (free single CPU licenses are available).


    Determining which version you go for depends on what you will be using it for. If you want to convert and run regular operation servers like ftp, mail server, file server, etc. that you don’t need to access using the console or prefer to remote in, then ESXi works better. Also if you want to leverage the machines hardware better ESXi is the better option.

    However if you want something simple that can run on top of your current Windows server and/or don’t want to have to convert each individual VMware virtual machine to the new format, go with VMware Server.
    Both server products are free and are great when used the right way.

    1 comment:

    Kimmono said...

    Just the info I was looking for! Going to vmware.com for this info is just a waste of time..

    Thanks! :)