What is VMware ESXi?

Recently I was catching up with an old friend of mine who has worked in technology for many years and has used the free “hosted” virtualization products like VMware Server and Virtual PC.  He asked me about the new free ESXi and was wondering what the difference was and what OS it runs on.  I told him it doesn’t need an OS, it is an OS.

ESX and ESXi do not run on a general purpose OS like Windows or Linux.  They install and run directly on your server hardware, which is why they are called “bare-metal hypervisors.”

I thought if my friend, who is a pretty tech-savvy IT pro, had not been exposed to this, there are probably others that may benefit as well.  If you have not tried a bare-metal hypervisor, download the free ESXi and take it for a spin:


You might be wondering what the “free” version of ESXi provides.  Well, it is actually the same exact binary distribution as enterprise ESXi, the only difference is the license key.  The free version lacks high-end features like clustering, VMotion, and management via VirtualCenter.  Therefore, if you try the free “mode” you will have a pretty good idea of the essential features and performance.

Please note that you can also download the enterprise version of ESX/ESXi/VirtualCenter and evaluate for 60 days for free.  This is a great offer and really gives you a chance to kick the tires.

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