VMware Server v ESX  - what advantage does ESX have?

Posted on 2008-06-23
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
We are looking at installing a DL380 G4 hosting FAP (VM), EXCHANGE (VM)  and 7 x virtual desktops in a DR co-location site.

The question is whether to use ESX to run this scenario or free VMware server. I am interested in others experiences, particular when ESX is and isnt required, and what advantages (bullet point format would be great) it has over tradtional free VMware server.


Question by:Matsco
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Expert Comment

ID: 21849222
ESX is an enterprise class product, which the free VMware server is not.

Theres another topic on this site about it:

The free VMware server runs on top on another operating system, either windows or linux. ESX a baremetal hypervisor. So you remove one layer by removing the operating system that the free VMware Server uses.

I would not run Exchange on top of VMware Server. That I could and in many scenarios do on ESX.

Expert Comment

ID: 21849498
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 21850926

ESX and VMware Server is something for the HAVEs and HAVENOTs

ESX is for organisations which have critical servers and lot of bussiness dependent on IT infrastructure. ESX server is scalable and delivers the best performance and the more Dollars  you shell out the more options available.

VMware server on the other hand gives you the flexibility of virtualization with no cost and can run on any hardware and you dont need any expensive hardware. But you would certainly need good amount of expertise on the OS admin and Application as OS running on virtual server is not supported by the OS vendors.

If you want to test out virtualization before you spend money on ESX then VMware Virtual server is good product to start.

As far as the machines you want to build/move to ESX/VMWare free server would depend on what kind of load these VMs are handling and how many users logging in. Can you please provide that additional info.

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Author Comment

ID: 21858349
This a hypotethical scenario:

2 x (ESX) Host machine HP DL360 G5, QUAD Core, 16GB RAM, connected to MSA2000 / Hitachi SAN, running 5 Virtual Servers.

Would you need ESX here, or would free VM ware be sufficient?

Author Comment

ID: 21858364
This would be with 11 users by the way....

Expert Comment

ID: 21859582
It depends on what you are trying to do. If it is important to stay running then don't use the VMWare server. You get what you pay for.

With ESX you can use tools like VMotion and Virtual Infrastructure.

If you are spending the money for that hardware then go the extra mile for the software. You will get fired if you spend that money on hardware only to have it keep crashing and you can't get it fixed since VMWare server is an unsupported free product. We have basically the same hardware using ESX/VI3 and we have no complaints with 15 servers and 350 users.

Author Comment

ID: 21860201
Downtime is not an option - we work in trading markets.

Can you advise what VMotion and Virtual Infrastructure do, to the laymen?

Accepted Solution

peerlesspump earned 125 total points
ID: 21862591
Virtual Infastructure lets you manage the virtual machines on the two ESX servers as "one". You say you would have 5 VM's so you would probably have two VM's running on one server and three VM's running on the other. With VI you would manage these as one unit instead of logging onto two ESX servers all of the time. I have VI client installed on my laptop so I can run our 15 servers like I'm sitting at the server.

VMotion lets you migrate a VM from one physical server to the other if you need to do maintance on a physical server or if one fails. The VM doesn't "go down" when you migrate. To a user it is seemless.

Email me at and we can work out a time to talk if you want. I had all the same questions you did about a year ago when we started and I know it's tough to talk to someone without them trying to sell you something.


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