VMware ESXi is the slimmed down version of ESX that comes in two forms - embedded and installable. The embedded version of ESXi comes as part of the server installed on an internal flash or usb memory. The installable version can be downloaded from VMware and installed on a hard drive. This chat will discuss the features of ESX and ESXi as well as the licensing of both with experts from Dell.

Technical Community - Background Reading

ESXi Adventures
Hyper-V vs ESXi in the Small Business Space
What's the Difference Between Free ESXi and Licensed ESXi
What to do with Free ESXi

Chat Transcript

DELL-ToddM We will be starting chat on ESXi in about 10 minutes
JasonPowell w00t
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DELL-ToddM Let me know if you have any specific questions or issues
DELL-ToddM That way I can make sure we get to it
DELL-ToddM Hey Roger
Dell-RogerF Afternoon.
DELL-ToddM w00t w00t
JasonPowell Just to verify: this is a txt only session ... no audio?
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DELL-ToddM Yes - Text only - although you can enable sounds for different events
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DELL-ToddM Like whenever somebody enters or leavees
JasonPowell I just shot out a twitter to try and get some more peeps in here
DELL-ToddM Welcome jbarton
DavidSzp Thanks for the reminder Jason, I saw the chat this morning but would have forgotten about it :-)
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jbarton thanks :)
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DELL-ToddM Thanks for the tweet - I sent one out about an hour ago - but one right now is better
DELL-ToddM Welcome genxinc123, bigfoot
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DELL-ToddM Hey Damon - glad to see you!
DELL-ToddM Welcome gsfisher13
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DELL-ToddM We are going to be starting our chat on ESX3i in just a few minutes
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Dell_-_Damon_Earley Apologies for the bounce. Just putting my badge on.
DELL-ToddM Damon - thanks for comming back!
Dell_-_Damon_Earley No prob.
DELL-ToddM It's the offical start time for the chat - but we usually give people a few extra minutes to get connected
DELL-ToddM Today's topic is ESXi - Features and Licensing
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DELL-ToddM We can stray a bit from that if anybody has other topics - but we will at least try to start there :)
DELL-ToddM Welcome smoke
DELL-ToddM Scott, another member of the Techcenter team, is not here today because he is on his honeymoon
DELL-ToddM I tried to talk him into logging onto the chat - but I don't think he's going to do it
jbarton his priorities are clearly out of whack :)
DavidSzp Todd: Shame on you for trying to interrupt his honeymoon! :-)
DELL-ToddM So let me do a brief intro and then you guys can tell me where you want to take this discussion
DELL-ToddM Welcome to today's Delltechcenter chat on VMware ESXi Features and licensing
DELL-ToddM VMware released ESXi as a free download about a month ago which has caused a huge increase in interest in this "embedded" version of ESX
DELL-ToddM So now that everybody has had a little bit of time to download it, think about what they could use it for, I thought that it would be a good time to have it as a chat topic
DELL-ToddM I would like to introduce Damon - who is a VMware license specialist at Dell
DELL-ToddM He helps customers to understand all the different licensing options for VMware - and I invited him today so that he could help us understand licensing in respect to ESXi
Dell_-_Damon_Earley Afternoon, folks.
flakrat howdy
DELL-ToddM We try to keep this as informal as possible - so everybody feel free to just jump in whenever
DELL-ToddM We can keep multiple threads going at the same time - well at least usually
Dell_-_Damon_Earley While you folks are formulating some questions, here's one I'd like to note since it comes up pretty frequently in most of my conversations with other customers.
Dell_-_Damon_Earley ESX and ESXi are interchangeable for the most part in a VMware conversation. They are managed very differently, but both run the full ESX kernel hypervisor for virtualization.
Dell_-_Damon_Earley If you've purchased or are looking at purchasing the Vi 3 Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise bundles, then you've got rights to either version when you're rolling out your ESX server farms.
DELL-ToddM Is anybody on the chat using ESXi yet?
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DavidSzp I have it installed on one of my servers at a place I support one day per week.
DavidSzp It went free just as I was about to turn a server into a virtual host, figured it was worth a try.
flakrat we use ESX, but not ESXi
DavidSzp I've used plenty of Virtual Server but no ESX-related products until ESXi became free. Now I want to play with it a lot more!
jbarton we use ESX but not ESXi as well
DELL-ToddM The performance of ESXi is the same as ESX - so it will be much better than Virtual Server
DavidSzp That's one of the reasons I decided to try it. That plus I've tried Virtual Server Beta 2 and have been unimpressed.
DELL-ToddM jbarton and flakrat - are you also using Virtual Center with ESX? Or do you have standalone ESX hosts?
jbarton yes, I have Virtualcenter set up
flakrat standalone ESX, no money for the good stuff
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DELL-ToddM I agree that VMware Server 2 Beta is not great - ESXi will be much more refined a product
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Dell_-_Damon_Earley The bare metal hypervisor definitely has the performance advantage.
Shawn sup David
flakrat plus Vm Server 2 is a pig on the host box
DavidSzp Beta 2 has web-based management that I hate. I loved the Windows client for Server 1, and ESXi has the same type of thick console but seems much better with more control and options!
DELL-ToddM As I'm sure you guys are aware - Virtual Center and all the cool stuff you can do with it is the big difference between ESXi for free and Virtual Infrastructure
DavidSzp Shawn: Is this the Shawn I know? :-)
DELL-ToddM The web based interface for ESXi is pretty good - I agree
Dell_-_Damon_Earley If you folks ever need to kick the tires of the full suite, or have some info on hand to make the business case to get some, you can always get access to temporary trial licenses from VMware that will give you access to a Virtualcenter license and Virtualcenter agents for the ESXi Servers. They're from VMware's site -- https://www.VMware.com/tryVMware/login.php?eval=vi3 .
DELL-ToddM The functionality between ESXi and ESX is almost exactly the same if you are just comparing a single server on each side
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DELL-ToddM The exception is that ESX (no i) has the linux based service console that runs locally
DELL-ToddM Welcome ebuford
DavidSzp Hi Ed!
ebuford howdy all
flakrat What's an economical way to back up virtual machines when using ESXi in a single host env?
jbarton Im curious about what the recommendation is for managing Dell machines on ESXi, since there is no service console to run Omsa on?
flakrat since you don't have access to a console
DELL-ToddM It's good to hear that some of you that have never used ESX before find ESXi easy to use - I was wondering how new users would fee about it
DELL-ToddM Backup with ESXi - there are a few options depending on your environment
Dell_-_Damon_Earley Flakrat: Check with your backup vendor, but your Vmfs file volumes where your virtual machines reside are on local storage. If they have access to that volume, instead of having agents in each Vm, you can typically just license the one server.
DELL-ToddM You may be able to use storage based features like snapshots or mirroring if the storage that is hosting the Vms supports it
DELL-ToddM You can run backup agents in the Vms - which can be expensive
DELL-ToddM Even though there isn't a service console for ESXi, you can download and run an appliance Vm that will act very much like the service console did
DELL-ToddM Recommendation for managing ESXi
flakrat Todd, that's a good suggestion that I hadn't thought of (the appliance), thanks
DELL-ToddM Without service console you cannot load Omsa - you are correct
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DELL-ToddM In virtual Center there is some visibility to things like fans, power supplies, and disk health - for the Dell Server models that ship with ESXi
Dell_-_Damon_Earley Jbarton: they've got info on the management best practices posted here -- http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/software/eslvmwre/en/ves_3i/systems%20management%20document/pdf/msmpa01.pdf . Since there's no Omsa in the console, management has to take advantage of Cim communications.
DELL-ToddM This includes the R805, and some others - but I don't have the list at my fingertips
DELL-ToddM The doc that Damon points to has some good stuff in it
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DELL-ToddM This is actually the direction that management has been going in for some time - more reliance on Cim with less on agents
DELL-ToddM The move to ESXi just accelerates this :)
DELL-ToddM It turns out that there is actually less to mange with ESXi as well
DELL-ToddM It is designed to managed more like an appliance or a network switch
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DELL-ToddM The ESXi code will not be patched - it will simply all be updated as a single image
DELL-ToddM Just like your firmware on your cisco switches
jbarton interesting
DELL-ToddM I will admit that I was one of the guys in the meetings when we first starting talking ESXi to say - Don't take my service console away!
flakrat I figured they did that as an incentive to buy ESX :-p
DELL-ToddM But it turns out that you don't really need it as much as you think - especially with the ability to remotely do almost all of the same commands
DELL-ToddM There are some cases where service console is still very handy - and it mostly around backup agents running on the local system
DELL-ToddM This allows for them to easily get access to the Vmfs volumes
DavidSzp2 There's an unsupported option to get shell/ssh to Busybox on ESXi
DELL-ToddM But - as VMware Backup get more integrated into all of the backup vendors solutions it becomes less of a problem
DELL-ToddM Tell me more about the shell/ssh to ESXi
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DavidSzp2 let me find the link
DELL-ToddM Welcome Mr-e
flakrat Say we don't have enough money for Virtual Infrastructure or any of the related tools, but we have enough for another Poweredge, is it possible to set up a redundant environment using shared storage between the two ESXi boxes?
DELL-ToddM Action - Recent Room history will catch you up on the discussion so far!
DELL-ToddM I don't know the answer to that one - I might do that as a homework problem in the next couple of days
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DavidSzp2 Someone's backing up ESXi using VMware Converter it looks like: http://ciscoospina.wordpress.com/2008/07/30/backing-up-vm-files-from-ESXi/
DavidSzp2 Hi Jermie!
Dell_-_Damon_Earley Flakrat: I'm pretty sure without a Virtualcenter to set the storage to shared, the two ESXi servers can't access the same Vmfs file volumes at the same time by default. Still, you can have a centralized place where you store the Vmdks and move them between the machines.
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JKilgore Hello
DELL-ToddM It would be interesting to see if you could setup a hotstandby type of deal - where if you lost your server, you could start the standby and be up and running
smoke455 I don't know about ESXi, but I have done the manual failover on ESX with no problem - its not as nice as Vc, but it works in a pinch
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DELL-ToddM What do mean by a manual failover?
smoke455 2 identical servers connected to the same shared Vmfs, you shutdown or pause the vm guest on host a, then register and startup the vm guest on host b
DELL-ToddM I know that there are lots of options for licensing Virtual Infrastructure - Damon - what is the entry level point for say two servers?
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Dell-Damon_Earley That particular set up -- the manual one -- just requires ESXi. The basic licensing for purchase -- Vi 3 Foundation -- is what adds the licensing for allowing a Virtualcenter to administrate the server, as well as the rights to Consolidated Backup and Update Manager (which both require the Virtualcenter).
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DavidSzp2 ESXi Ssh/shell link with how-to: http://itsupportjournal.com/2008/06/
DELL-ToddM Thanks David - I will check it out
DELL-ToddM What is the list price for Vi 3 Foundation - which included virtual center?
DELL-ToddM Or is there a site where that kind of stuff is listed?
DELL-ToddM I think that many who start using ESXi will at some point need to upgrade to have the ability to use Virtual Center
Mr-E What is the cost to get ESXi bundled with a Pe2950 or R805 ? (obviously the osftware is no cost now, what about the embedded Usb etc.)
DELL-ToddM Becuase once you have more than a few servers - management can become pretty tricky
Dell-Damon_Earley The list prices (and feature sets) are listed here -- http://www.VMware.com/products/vi/buy.html .
Dell-Damon_Earley Mr-e: I know there's a nominal fee for the Sdram and riser or the Usb and bracket, but I'm not certain what the exact amount is.
DELL-ToddM The cost for ESXi when it is embedded on the server is listed at $99 on the web configurator for the R805
DELL-ToddM In the case of the R805 it is on an internal Sd card
Dell-Damon_Earley Also to clarify, the Virtualcenter Foundation or Virtualcenter Management Server licenses are seperate purchases. VMware does have Acceleration kits which are bundles of Vi 3 licensing with the Virtualcenters, but if you're purchasing single licenses, you'll still need to look at gettinga Virtualcenter as well.
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DELL-ToddM When you take your existing free ESXi and want to move them into virtual center - do you have to reinstall or recreate your Vms?
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DELL-ToddM flakrat - Do you think that at some point you will want to purchase Virtual Center? Or do you plan to just stay on free ESXi? Or maybe goto Hyper-v at some point?
Dell-Damon_Earley Nope. Virtualcenter environments work off of server based licensing, so when you purchase the new licensing and load up the Virtualcenter and Flexnet license server, it'll locate and recognize your ESX servers that it has licensing for.
Dell-Damon_Earley Same with upgrading from ESXi, Foundation or Standard to higher level licensing; it just requires updating the license file. The only bit replacements that are needed is with major patch releases or upgrades.
DELL-ToddM I think this is a cool aspect to using ESXi as a starting point for virtualization as opposed to VMware Server or Ms Virtual Server - you can just move everything into virtual center with no changes
DELL-ToddM What other questions do we have out there?
DavidSzp2 Any tips for transitioning Vms from Virtual Server to ESXi?
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DavidSzp2 It seems to require Converter to accomplish that, which seems to work fine, but wondering if there's anything I've missed...
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DELL-ToddM You can use Vmconverter - free tool from VMware
flakrat Toddm, if the bosses start seeing value in virtualizing our servers, then I imagine upgrading to the enterprise tools
jbarton Is it safe to assume that the release of ESXi will not become a replacement for VMware server?
Mr-E Convertor is an excellent tool, I've used it a quite a bit recently - P2v, V2v
Shawn Dell-damon_earley: that VMware vi/buy link doesn't work
DavidSzp2 jbarton: If Beta 2 of Virtual Server is any indication, ESXi will replace it regardless of their intent :-)
DELL-ToddM I don't think that ESXi will replace VMware Server - but I don't know. I think I will try to find out the answer to that question at Vmworld in a few weeks.
DavidSzp2 Shawn: The VMware buy link has a period at the end of the sentence that goes in the link
DavidSzp2 Remove the period and it should work
flakrat Say you have two ESXi servers, what does upgrading to Virtual Center get you? a single management window for both servers?
JasonPowell According to the VMware webinar I watched ESXi is Not a replacement for VMware server
Dell-Damon_Earley If the direct link doesn't work, when you hit VMware.com, go to Products, Vi 3, then there should be a folder sub-tab mid-page called How to Buy.
Dell-Damon_Earley It outlines the bundles.
Dell-Damon_Earley Jbarton: I don't see VMware Server going away any time soon. So long as there's a use for hosted virtualization, like the Workstation products, I think it'll still be around.
flakrat Am I the only one who finds the VMware products confusing, at least from the stand point of what components do I need to accomplish my virtualization goals
DELL-ToddM I think that their naming conventions could be better - that might make it more clear
Dell-Damon_Earley Flakrat: To get the agents to use a Virtualcenter would require an upgrade to Foundation, but then the features you get that go along with the Virtualcenter are Update manager to push down patches to your online and powered down Vms, the ability to use Consolidated Backup in a shared storage environment, along with the rest of the advanced management tools provided by the Vc.
DELL-ToddM Does Vi3 foundation include VMotion?
Dell-Damon_Earley Flakrat: You're not the only one. I only understand them because I work with them every day. It can be pretty confusing starting out, particularly since a lot of the conventions of their licensing and naming span back to ESX v1.
Dell-Damon_Earley Todd: It doesn't. VMotion and Drs come in the Enterprise package.
flakrat Like what's the difference between Vi3, Virtualcenter, and just purchasing ESX
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DELL-ToddM Found the answer - Foundation does not include VMotion
JasonPowell What's the testing process look like for getting support for older Poweredge servers? I know there's a list ... but is Dell or VMware doing the work to get more hardware on the "supported" list? And is there any list of what's currently being worked on?
Dell-Damon_Earley The easiest way I've found to think of it is Vi 3 is anything dealing with ESX. Then, there are packages of features that comes with ESX. ESXi is basic ESX functionality, then Foundation, Standard, and Enterprise add additional licensing.
Dell-Damon_Earley Virtualcenter is a central console that's required for most of the advanced features, but you only need one per network.
DELL-ToddM This page seems to sum it up (I think we already linked to this earlier) http://www.VMware.com/products/vi/buy.html
Dell-Damon_Earley It's my favorite of their links, and the clearest I've found.
DELL-ToddM We are just about out of time - any other burning questions? I can stay for a couple of more minutes
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flakrat I'd be interested in Jasonpowell's question regarding supported hardware lists for Dell servers
Shawn I would like jpowell's q answered
DavidSzp2 I missed Jason's question, what was it?
DELL-ToddM Additional questions can be posted as discussion threads on the homepage for today's chat - http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/08-12-2008+VMware+ESXi+licensing+and+features
flakrat I've read many threads regarding issues with hardware (especially systems that use sata drives)
DELL-ToddM Oh yes- hold on I will give it a try
Dell-Damon_Earley Jason: A lot of the older servers are typically brought through in the revs of the new patches, but ESXi has opened up new testing for both Installable and Embedded versions. I'm not certain how many older servers are being tested, and while I know a list is created, I do not know what the full list is.
DavidSzp2 I was told by a friend of mine that ESXi will run on anything ESX will run on, as a general rule.
DELL-ToddM Damon has the same answer I was going to give - well not word for word - but basically
DELL-ToddM That should be true, but ESXi hasn't been tested and verified on those systems that ESX has been tested on
DavidSzp2 Sure, no support on non-hcl hardware, but doesn't mean it won't work :-)
DELL-ToddM That is correct - they didn't take hardware support out of ESX when they made ESXi, but it is different in some ways so no guarantees
DELL-ToddM The virtualization engineering team here that does these certifications has been very very busy this year with all the new hypervisors - Hyper-v, ESXi, Xenserver - and new servers - R805, M600, M605, etc
JasonPowell I prob missed this earlier but I assume you can flash upgrade an embedded ESXi server to full ESX
DELL-ToddM You can "upgrade" and ESXi server into full ESX by installing ESX on the harddrive of the server
Dell-RogerF Gotta go. Thanks Damon for chatting with us.
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JasonPowell ahh ... so that's something to think about when ordering a new server with no disks
DELL-ToddM It's not really an upgrade, it's more like a reinstall
DELL-ToddM You can "upgrade" ESXi into virtual center environment without any changes to ESXi
DELL-ToddM or the Vms on it
DELL-ToddM It is only a licensing change
Dell-Damon_Earley I appreciate the time, folks. Jason, in that situation, you'd probably look at the one Todd was talking about where you can download the appliance that works like the Service Console.
JasonPowell thanks guys
DELL-ToddM Thanks to everybody for attending today's chat. Additional questions and the transcript from today will be posted on the hompage for this chat - http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/08-12-2008+VMware+ESXi+licensing+and+features
Dell-Damon_Earley Have a good one!
DELL-ToddM Next week we will be discussing ESXi again - So come back after trying it our for another week and we will continue the conversation around ESXi capabilities