VMware ESX Server and ESXi both provide the same basic virtualization functionality. Both can also be managed with VMware Virtual Center and joined with additional servers to create a cutting-edge virtualization server farm solution that can do all kinds of cool things. ESX includes a Linux-based service console that allows for some "local" agents to be run on the host. ESXi is a very slim hypervisor that can only be managed and accessed remotely. This chat helps answer questions and provides a discussion around the similarities and differences between ESX and ESXi.

Special Note: This chat resulted in the creation of a new unoffical theme song for Hyper-V created by Ye110wbeard.

Technical Community - Background Reading

Chat Transcript

DELL-ScottH Hello John
John Hello Scott
John I joined 10 minutes ago and thought we wouldn't have one today.
DELL-ToddM I usually hang out in the chat room for about an hour before; but was in a meeting about Twitter at VMworld
DELL-ScottH I would never miss the chance to geek it out
DELL-ScottH Again, I miss all the cool meetings
John What's Twitter?
DELL-ScottH www.twitter.com/delltechcenter
DELL-ScottH Sort of like text messaging to a group
DELL-ToddM I would say that it is a cross between IM and Blog
slbrown joined.
DELL-ToddM Hello slbrown! How's goes it?
John Oh okie, messagblog :)
kurtmeyers joined.
slbrown It goes well and you?
DELL-ToddM Hey Kurt
DELL-ToddM Things are good, but busy, here
kurtmeyers Hello
DELL-ScottH Hey Kurt and slbrown
slbrown Hello Scott
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger joined.
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DELL-ToddM Dan the Man!
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Hola
DELL-ScottH Hey Dan
DELL-ScottH Hello Jbarton
jbarton Hey everyone
DELL-ScottH I set the line at 20; who wants the over?
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger What are we virtualizing today?
kurtmeyers Everything of course
DELL-ToddM We are going to get officially started in about five minutes or so; give everybody a chance to join in
DELL-ToddM I'll take the over
DELL-ScottH Cool, lunch is the bet?
DELL-ToddM Deal
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Did you guys see that VMware and Cisco joined the SVVP program from Microsoft?
DELL-ToddM Today's topic is going to be ESXi and ESX—a discussion of the differences between the two
DELL-ScottH I'm in the VMworld session scheduler right now...pretty cool, easy to build a schedule
Steve_W joined.
DELL-ScottH Define swp
DELL-ToddM I did get an e-mail about VMware becoming a supported virtualization Platform for Ms Os and Apps
DELL-ToddM Which nets out to Exchange is now supported on VMware!
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Windows Server Virtualization Validation Program
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger The link is http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/svvp/
DELL-ToddM I'm going to do a blog post on it tomorrow; stop stealing my thunder :)
DELL-ScottH Oh, s-v-v-p...I need better glasses
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Ok, ok I'll stop
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Might as well mention the license change that MS took today that allows VMotion of workloads outside of that 90-day limit
DELL-ToddM Seriously, I would like to hear from everybody if this makes a difference to them
DELL-ToddM Dan, Is that included in the link above? Or is that somewhere else?
DELL-ToddM I would like to welcome everybody to today's delltechcenter Web chat on ESX and ESXi
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger That's another link
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I like the TechCenter but I read Allesandro's site for news too: www.virtualization.info
DELL-ToddM Last week we discussed ESXi licensing and features; the transcript is here www.delltechcenter.com/page/08-12-2008+VMware+ESXi+licensing+and+features
DELL-ToddM This week we can continue that discussion as well as talk about how ESXi and ESX are the same and different
DELL-ToddM Does anybody have any questions that we can get started with?
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DELL-ToddM Welcome tpape - we are just getting started
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DELL-ToddM There is a great page on VMware's site that goes through the differences between ESX and ESXi: http://kb.VMware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_us&cmd=displaykc&externalid=1006543
DELL-ToddM Welcome Jeff_g. You can use Action, Recent room history to catch up on the conversation so far
DELL-ToddM The biggest difference between the two is that ESX has the service console and ESXi does not
DELL-ToddM Oh, and the ESXi is available for free
kurtmeyers But when deploying say more then four or five VMs on a server, isn't it wise to have a service console?
DELL-ScottH Coolest thing I read from last week’s transcript was the hack to get SSH working
DELL-ToddM The service console allows you to run some agents locally on the ESX server; the most common and useful is probably backup agents
John I am looking at the kb from VMware
DELL-ToddM However, you can use the Remote CLI to do all of the same commands that you could do in service console against the ESXi server
DELL-ToddM On the ESXi page here on TechCenter I have a link to the Remote CLI: www.delltechcenter.com/page/VMware+ESXi+embedded+hypervisor
John If you can, please test that URL; I am not able to view it.
kurtmeyers So then there really isn't a reason for the console as long as you have the remove CLI
John I mean Kb on the difference between ESX and ESXi
DELL-ScottH http://kb.VMware.com/kb/1006543
DELL-ToddM Testing: It was working a few minutes ago when I pasted it in
jbarton I would assume that the Remote CLI only helps running ESX commands from another location, but doesn’t help much with other stuff that would run in the service console, like backup agents, monitoring agents, etc.
DELL-ToddM Backup agents will probably not work; you need to use VCB-enabled backup
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Don't forget your APC agents for graceful shutdown, etc.
DELL-ToddM In respect to the licensing cost difference, free versus cost, this has definitely increased the interest in ESXi over the past month
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DELL-ScottH Todd, how did your test go with the ESXi failover, without using Virtual Center?
DELL-ToddM Welcome Gkeller and Mikemoffet; Action, Recent Room History will catch you up on the discussion
DELL-ScottH Welcome Gkeller and Mike. Use Action, Recent Room History to catch up
DELL-ScottH Pick poke you owe me a coke
DELL-ToddM Scott, Thanks for mentioning
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Long story short, the move to a VMware hypervisor without a service console is pretty cool because it shrinks the form factor to a point where it can be run on USB/SD cards. It's a win for end users because a majority of the ESX security patches went to the service console
DELL-ToddM Last week a question came up about doing failover with only the free ESXi
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger You just need to double-check your internal processes and understand if you need to drop agents into the SC
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger If you do, then you may need to stay with the version with the service console
DELL-ToddM No Virtual Center, but a manual failover of VMs
DELL-ToddM So I set up two PowerEdge R805s with and MD3000i iSCSI storage to test it out
DELL-ToddM I created a VM on the first server residing on the shared storage between the two servers
DELL-ToddM In the VM I installed Windows 2008 and tested to make sure it was working
DELL-ToddM Then shut down the VM on server A
DELL-ToddM Went to server B and manually created the same VM again, pointing to the same virtual hard disk on the shared disk
DELL-ToddM Then started the VM on server B, and it came up just fine
DELL-ToddM Then tried to start the VM on server A, without shutting it down on server B
DELL-ToddM And the cluster file system was working; it prevented me from starting the already running VM on the other server
jbarton Did you have to create the VM on server B, or could you just open up and use the existing vmx configuration file stored on the shared storage?
DELL-ToddM Full blog post is here with more details: www.delltechcenter.com/page/08-19-08+poor+man's+failover+for+ESXi+-+comments
DELL-ToddM I couldn't find a way to get ESXi to just use the existing vmx configuration file
DELL-ToddM I think that you might be able to use Remote CLI to register the VM, but I haven't had a chance to try this out yet
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Is there a use case for that type of failover?
jbarton Is ESXi just managed through a Web interface, or is there a VI client type console as well?
DELL-ToddM You use the same Virtual Infrastructure client as for Virtual Center; you just point it directly at the the ESXi server
DELL-ScottH Blog topic includes words "poor man," so that might be best use case
DELL-ToddM If you point a Web browser at ESXi server, it has a link to download the VI client from the ESXi server itself
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Reading is fundamental...minus five hit points to me
DELL-ScottH Level down
DELL-ToddM The use case is that you don't want to purchase Virtual Infrastructure, but you want to have some failover capability in the event of server failure
DELL-ScottH Pretty cool to get ESX performance for free and quasi HA feature for free
DELL-ToddM Or you could do some very manual load balancing between a set of ESXi servers with this type of failover
DELL-ScottH You could take it a step further and script a monitor program to watch Server A, then CLI to start server B when A fails
DELL-ToddM I will award a TechCenter shirt to the first person to write such a script!
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DELL-ToddM I think that this type of failover is probably workable for a small environment, but would become unmanageable pretty quickly as things grow
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DELL-ToddM Has anybody considered using ESXi? Free or otherwise?
DELL-ToddM One of the best things about using the ESXi free version is that it can be "upgraded" into a full Virtual Infrastructure environment with just a licensing change
jbarton We are using it in our lab environment, and have the full-blown ESX cluster in production
DELL-ToddM No changes necessary to any VMs that are created while in Free mode
jbarton I have considered using it instead of VMware server, but I'm not sure I can meet hardware requirements for ESXi
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Jbarton, I've heard of a number of end users who moved from VMware server to ESXi
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I guess it makes sense to move away from that hosted model pending you can meet the hardware requirements
DELL-ToddM What hardware would you be putting it on?
gkeller I had a quad socket 6950 I wanted to test it on, but it blocked me due to too many sockets
ye110wbeard joined.
DELL-ScottH Really? That was the message?
gkeller /me has slept since then.
DELL-ScottH Hey, ye110wbeard...good to see a fellow twitter
ye110wbeard Oh no! I've been spotted!
DELL-ScottH Use Action, Recent Room History to catch up
ye110wbeard Ruuuuuuun!
DELL-ToddM I didn't think that there was a number of sockets limitation to ESXi
jbarton Outside of work I would only have generic machines with SATA drives, which I believe will not be visible to ESX
DELL-ScottH Kind of hard to miss with that NIC :-)
ye110wbeard As long as there are no sharks with lasers today... >:)
DELL-ToddM At what point did it block you? During install or later when trying to create or start a VM?
gkeller During the install as I recall.
gkeller I'm going to need to test it again, since I actually have a business use for prototyping it now
DELL-ToddM Dan, we support ESXi on four-socket servers: R900 and R905?
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Yes we do
ye110wbeard Quick question, free ESX, same specs as Hyper-V? 64-bit hypervisor on chip?
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I wonder if the freely downloadable version from VMware.com comes only in a two-socket version
DELL-ToddM ESXi is a bit different from Hyper-V, but its basic description is the same: 64-bit hypervisor
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DELL-ToddM ESXi is a truly bare metal hypervisor; whereas, Hyper-V is part of Windows Server 2008
DELL-ToddM So although both ESXi and Hyper-V are "free," Hyper-V requires Windows Server 2008, which is not free
ye110wbeard So ESX is a stand-alone O/S application to run the virtuals? Or requires some base O/S?
DELL-ToddM When I registered my license for free ESXi from the Web site, it asked me how many processors I would be installing it on, and I put in 64
DELL-ScottH ESX is the OS
DELL-ToddM I used the same license on two R805s each with two, quad-core AMD Opteron processors
ye110wbeard Ok, now that is neat :)
ye110wbeard What about the licensing of the O/Ss under? No freebies there I am guessing
DELL-ToddM I will look into the four-socket and free ESXi question and post to the home page for this chat when I find the answer
Steve_W XenServer is also a very good bare metal hypervisor
DELL-ScottH If you use Linux it is free :-)
ye110wbeard I'll steer clear from that debate... ;)
DELL-ToddM No free lunch on the guest OS; traditional rules still apply
ye110wbeard As I presumed
gkeller Thanks, Todd
DELL-ToddM Gkeller, What is the business use for ESXi?
gkeller We need to test virtualizing our login nodes for our clusters
gkeller So each customer has their own "private Idaho"
DELL-ToddM Then move to production ESX if successful?
gkeller Depends on feature differences
gkeller We don't need HA
DELL-ScottH Yes, XenServer is nice too; got a link to some of the demos: www.delltechcenter.com/page/xenserver+demos
gkeller I'll have to do some homework
ye110wbeard What do you use to Manage ESXi?
DELL-ScottH Keyboard
Steve_W Ugh
DELL-ToddM ESXi has the same performance as ESX. The differences are in the advanced features including HA, VMotion, and DRS
ye110wbeard I like having both options myself. Is there a non-keyboard option once up?
DELL-ToddM If you just need basic virtualization with great performance, it may be all that you need
DELL-ScottH We've got a systems management guide: http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/software/eslvmwre/en/ves_3i/systems%20management%20document/pdf/msmpa01.pdf
DELL-ToddM Sometimes I find that chants will help prevent problems, but I'm not sure that qualifies as a non-keyboard option
ye110wbeard I use magic words myself >:)
DELL-ScottH Yes, ancient druid chants
DELL-ToddM With four letters; I do that too
DELL-ToddM Makes me feel better
ye110wbeard No, more like, "Stupid, no good !@#$!>?>!>$>!@$"—Those magic words
ye110wbeard Usually works
gkeller Rubber chickens and five-pound hammers tend to be persuasive.
DELL-ScottH I threaten to move the server out of the data center into a broom closet, that works
DELL-ScottH Can't usually stand the heat
gkeller (Oh, I thought we were talking about users )
DELL-ScottH Oh, lets not go there
ye110wbeard I threatened to downgrade one to a Commodore Vic 20. It was beautiful Ran away screaming!
DELL-ScottH Common, at least give em OS/2!
gkeller The original stateless computers...ah, the day
DELL-ToddM We are getting low on time—just about five minutes or so—any more questions around ESXi?
DELL-ToddM Or anything else somewhat virtualization related?
ye110wbeard Not from me...I'm downloading it now to try 'er out
DELL-ToddM Next week we are going to discuss Hyper-V
DELL-ToddM I've been working on some Hyper-V performance testing and will be ready to discuss some of what I have found as well as Hyper-V function and features as well
DELL-ScottH Todd’s built a beast of a machine in the lab
DELL-ToddM Let me know if you have any Hyper-V questions
ye110wbeard Don't forget, Hyper-V has a theme song too. :) Sung to "hyperactive"
DELL-ToddM I have two 128GB RAM systems that I am using for the testing; had to scrounge RAM to build out the second one
DELL-ScottH Send us the MP3 recording of your rendition, and we'll send you a shirt!
ye110wbeard ****drooooool******
gkeller Oh, every super hero needs theme music
DELL-ToddM A video would be even better!
ye110wbeard You can throw one my way, I won't mind
DELL-ScottH yes, Youtube it and it's yours
ye110wbeard Workin' on the video and music for it. I did "highway to Powershell"
DELL-ScottH Lol
gkeller I have plenty of hardware for interesting tests. just no time!
ye110wbeard The bad gerbil version
DELL-ToddM When you have an idea for an interesting test—let me know. I might have the time
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DELL-ToddM That's why I did the ESXi failover test yesterday; based on a question from a previous chat
ye110wbeard Ok, I'm out...going to have to finally finish that MP3. I need some clothes. I'll work on the video. I could use an extra system >:)
DELL-ToddM I forgot to introduce Dan Bettinger at the beginning of the chat—sorry, Dan
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Thanks
ye110wbeard Cheers all. Chat later on next round
DELL-ScottH Later
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DELL-ToddM Dan is the virtualization guy here at Dell; he works with VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft!
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Todd, can you compare Hyper-V versus virtual server from a performance perspective?
DELL-ToddM Hyper-V wins!
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Ok
DELL-ToddM I don't have data to quantify, but the performance of Hyper-V is very similar to ESX.
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I guess it doesn't take 128 gigs of RAM to figure that one out
DELL-ToddM Virtual Server and VMware Server are comparable
DELL-ToddM Dan, is that a question that you get?
DELL-ToddM Thanks to everybody for coming today. See you next week
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Not often yet
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Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I can pin that one on the guys at Microsoft
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger I just want a proofpoint
Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Hyper-V is X% "faster" than Microsoft Server for a comparable workload on a similar machine
gkeller Todd, we're building a four-node "scalemp" SMP that would be an interesting place to test ESXi, if it's not limited by sockets/RAM. Not a high availability configuration but potentially very fluid
gkeller Sixty-four processor cores, 16 GbE connections, QDR InfiniBand and 128 GB RAM (more or less)
gkeller Based on Dell Shoffner's
DELL-ToddM I don't completely follow; you want to combine physical servers to make one big VM?
DELL-ToddM VMware ESX just provides the ability to subdivide a single server into VMs; resources across servers can't be combined into a single VM
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Dell_-_Dan_Bettinger Hey guys, I've got to run. I'm late for a call about virtualizing OS/2 on an iPhone using KVM
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DELL-ScottH Who is that customer? :-)
DELL-ToddM Hey, I'm supposed to be in the same meeting—gotta run :)