FAQ: VMware's hypervisor is free, but enterprises will still pay

Key questions about VMware's newly free hypervisor answered.

VMware made a long-anticipated move July 22 when it announced that its ESXi hypervisor would be free. That doesn't mean VMware customers can avoid pricey fees for support and management tools, though. In this F.A.Q. we answer some key questions about VMware's newly free hypervisor.

What spurred VMware to give its hypervisor away?

Microsoft began shipping its virtualization software, Hyper-V, in June, for free. (That is, it's free if you've already paid for a Windows Server 2008 license).

The EMC-owned VMware made its own move just two weeks after replacing founder and CEO Diane Greene with Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft executive. Greene had long denied that VMware would be forced to lower its prices.

"If the hypervisor is already commoditized and most of your competitors have a free version, then Paul Maritz did the right thing," says Laura DiDio, a Yankee Group analyst. "You saw how fast he moved. Diane Greene wasn't out of there two weeks."

VMware denies that competition from Microsoft had anything to do with the decision to make ESXi free.

"We're focusing our efforts on the 20-plus products we sell on top of the hypervisor. This is a continuation for us of a long-term strategy," says VMware product marketing manager John Gilmartin.

Gilmartin points to February 2006 when VMware made a similar move, offering its first free hypervisor.

VMware already offers a free hypervisor?

Yes, the VMware Server, which is basically a beginner's kit for VMware's virtualization technology, has been available at no charge for more than two years.

So what's new?

VMware is now giving away ESXi, the "bare-metal" hypervisor that installs directly onto the server hardware. The VMware Server, on the other hand, is installed as an application on top of the operating system. ESXi previously cost US$495.

Is the VMware Server now obsolete?

Not quite, but there are now fewer reasons to use it. Some hardware devices might work with VMware Server but not ESXi, Gilmartin says. New servers have support for virtualization built into the chip, but some older platforms may not work with ESXi. VMware Server, since it's not running directly on the server hardware, will be compatible with a greater range of systems. So calling VMware Server obsolete may be too strong a statement, but "in terms of the pure hypervisor, clearly ESXi is more appealing," Forrester analyst Frank Gillett says.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?