Kasperian Moving Parts

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Free Enterprise-Class Virtualization

| 20 Comments

Get ESXi
I don’t know how many people are aware of this bold move VMware made recently, but I think it’s pretty amazing. Just last week, VMware made its hypervisor free!!

VMware ESXi Hypervisor Now Free

With Customers Deriving Value from More Than 20 Products in the VMware Portfolio, Company Makes #1 Hypervisor Free

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 28, 2008 – VMware, Inc., (NYSE: VMW), the global leader in virtualization solutions from the desktop to the datacenter, today announced its stand-alone ESXi hypervisor will be available at no cost to help companies of all sizes experience the benefits of virtualization. Since 2001, VMware has provided the industry’s most popular and reliable hypervisor, which is now used by more than 120,000 customers. In December 2007, VMware announced significant improvements with ESXi – its third-generation stand-alone hypervisor. With the industry’s smallest footprint and OS-independence, ESXi sets a new bar for security and reliability. ESXi 3.5 update 2, available today, meets the criteria for mass distribution: (1) ease of use and (2) maturity and stability now having been ‘battle tested’ for six months with customers. The leading server manufacturers have all embedded VMware ESXi, including Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP, IBM, and NEC. ESXi can be downloaded now from www.vmware.com/products/esxi/

Now, speaking personally, I’ve always used VMware’s desktop virtualization products, namely Player and Workstation. In fact, looking back at my serial number history, I see that I first convinced my boss to splurge on me with a license for VMware Workstation 3.0 (for Linux systems of course) on 2/7/2002. And that’s just the first license I bought. =;) I’m really excited about the next release of VMware’s hosted products and the really cool features in them. The irony of it is that now that I have an awesome job that doesn’t require me to use Windows apps, I won’t actually need some of the cool features that are coming out and definitely won’t appreciate them as much as I would have working in my Corporate USA jobs of yesterday.

But being a geek and all, I have quite a few times wished that I could afford VMware’s enterprise hypervisor (ESX) so that I could use it at home and run several virtual machines on the physical box that I have downstairs right now, being horribly under-utilized. And now that cost is no longer an inhibiting factor, I’m already planning an upcoming geek weekend to do just that. Cool!! Oh, and before you tell me that I should just use Xen or KVM, I’ll pre-emptively answer that I’d really like to use something rock-solid, enterprise-class, and world-proven, thank you very much. Given the choice of yesterday between a costly enterprise-class VMware hypervisor and the young and comparitively unproven Xen or KVM solutions, I might have eventually given in and tried one of the free solutions. But now that VMware ESX is free, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for me to choose it over the other free solutions.

Sweet mama! Go virtualize your toaster or something!! =:D

Disclaimer: I work for VMware and have never been shy about how much I’m loving it. =;P

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Nerd. These are our stories....

20 Comments

  1. what about the free version of citrix xenserver and the open source xen hypervisor??

  2. Oh, and before you tell me that I should just use Xen or KVM, I’ll pre-emptively answer that I’d really like to use something rock-solid, enterprise-class, and world-proven, thank you very much. Given the choice of yesterday between a costly enterprise-class VMware hypervisor and the young and comparitively unproven Xen or KVM solutions, I might have eventually given in and tried one of the free solutions. But now that VMware ESX is free, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for me to choose it over the other free solutions.

  3. Just to be shure, is it just free in the sense of free beer? Or are we talking open source? If you simply don’t have to pay, I do not see the point of this post on planet.kde and would give a shit, actually I would rather ask you to separate your commercial interests as a vwmare-employee from open source-forums.

    If I am wrong (and the product is indeed free as in free speach), please excuse my lack of reading skills.

  4. Great ( pure ) marketing post.
    It is just an old linux kernel + a lot of closed source pieces that run on a very limited amount of hardware. It was hot stuff a few years ago .. but those times are over.
    IMNSHO KVM will be leaner, meaner and faster and VMware will be in trouble once Novell and Red Hat release their new enterprise offerings.
    I just hope the customers VMware now has will continue to pay well ;P

  5. @Markus: I don’t believe VMware is opening its hypervisor source code up yet. And as far as being a VMware employee… yes, I am, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be equally as excited about this move if I wasn’t a VMware employee. I’ve only been working for the company for less than a year and I’ve blogged many times before then about Workstation, so I think I’ll just go ahead and keep blogging about things that I find interesting to me and you can just go ahead and avert your eyes if you see something that offends you, mmkay?

    @Bulldong: Um. nice nickname! I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. If you’re saying that I’m a corporate mouthpiece, then you’re absolutely wrong. I blog about things that interest me. Just because I write code for Palm devices (which are also not open source) does not mean that I have anything to gain by blogging about KPilot or Palm synching. Same here. I find virtualization interesting, have used VMware Workstation for more than 6 years as a necessary tool in the very Linux-unfriendly corporate world, and still do. As I explained in my original post, I have a need to fill that I have wanted to fill with ESX before now, but have been prohibited because of cost. I’m excited that that’s no longer a problem. Or am I misunderstanding your comment to something being “corporate bulldong”?

  6. Already looked into this, and it’s a bit of a non-starter if you want to run anything semi important. This is not ESX. It is ESXi, which is the hypervisor only, and in itself, isn’t really worth much.

    If you’re like most people you will generally want to run a backup client, UPS monitoring or at least some RAID monitoring software on your host. That’s not possible with ESXi as it doesn’t have a service console. Only ESX does, and even then, you’re still restricted in what you can run there and you’re limited to the hardware support ESXi and ESX have. They even now seem to be taking a path of removing the service console from ESX, which limits you even further.

    When it boils down to it, you need to run something on the bare hardware. From that perspective you might as well just run Linux, as it has a wide variety of well tested device drivers for the purposes of I/O virtualisation. In reality, this whole ‘just run it on the hypervisor’ thing from VMware and Xen is just yet another form of lock-in. In the long run, the dominant solution will be KVM. It’s distributed, tested and shipped with the kernel, there will be no restrictions placed on it, anything you want to run on the host you can and it will be available everywhere for free.

  7. There is in fact no way for anyone to tell if ESX is actually worthwhile because VMWare goes the extra mile and in its EULA practically prevents publishing benchmarks or comparisons to other virtualization solutions which aren’t favorable to VMWare. So I can do performance tests, but I will have no way to verify if my testing methodology is accurate by publishing the results of my test. For all that I might as well use Microsoft’s Hyper-V because at least and can discover if it’s performance is actually better or worse than some other virtualization solution. ESX being “Enteprise” is just marketing and until VMWare allows performance testing results to be published that’s all it will be.

  8. @Kyle Cunningham: That’s a very common misconception that I keep hearing, but it’s just not true. http://www.vmware.com/overview/performance/benchmarks.html has a pretty clear “Benchmarking Process, Learn how to produce and publish benchmark data * Download Now” section on the right side. From what I understand they approved a XenSource benchmark not too long ago. I think they’re just trying to make sure that any published benchmarks are well-done and controlled.

    @Segedunum: Hi there! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!! You bring up some really, really good points that I’ve not thought about previously. Hm. I haven’t really looked into KVM, so I guess I should at least do some homework. Thanks for taking the time to comment!! =:)

  9. Well Mr. Kasper, you do what you gotta do. It’s none of my business.

    I was answering Marcus.

    The confusion is understandable seeing that this or better the “planet” is about Free Software. So it would be common for someone to be confuse about you using the “free” without specifying it was about cost.

    The folks at Planet Mozilla for example go on about how wonderful Apple and it’s products are. None of my business.

    The corporate thing I was referring was about VMware not you.

  10. I’ll clarify the above comment by saying that I’m not dissing VMware. They’re going in the direction they want, and they currently have a (pretty successful) business model around what they’re doing and that’s their prerogative.

    Despite my misgivings about the future of virtualisation and where it’s heading with regards to software like VMware and the whole ‘the hypervisor is the OS’ stuff, which I think is nonsense really, being able to pick up ESXi and then move easily to ESX when they’ve tested the water will enable VMware to pick up a lot of customers. I might still be one of them. In terms of well tested ‘enterprise class’ (hate that phrase) stuff then VMware and ESX is still the best around there is at the moment. KVM has matured spectacularly in a short space of time, and I do think they have the right approach with hardware virtualisation happening at the right time (leaving I/O virtualisation), but it really depends on what management tools emerge around it. I’m not enamoured with Red Hat’s. It will be some time yet.

  11. thanks for censoring my previous comment

  12. @Tom: I haven’t censored comments yet and I certainly didn’t censor yours. Wonder if the spam filter caught it… Yep. -19.88 on the Spam Karma. I rescued it for ya. Thanks for letting me know.

  13. Cool, thank you very much.

    I looked at ESX a bit more closely and I think the main value lies in the software ecosystem around it. It is like Red Hats virtmanager and then some .. but RHEL 6 isn`t that far down the road so I am not really interested in trying a closed source solution with an uncertain future ( tbh I feel the same about Xen .. KVM is so much better NOW, it just needs more support tools ).

  14. Hey @Tom! Yeah, I think you’re totally right. Virtualization should be ubiquitous and everywhere and freely available, etc. But a great deal of value lies in the configuration and management software around the hypervisor. VMware has a HUGE set of software for this, but I don’t know what pieces of it I’d use as a home/hobbyist person. I guess I’ll have to play around with the various pieces to see what works/fits best. =:)

  15. From the benchmarking PDF you mentioned:

    VMware reserves the right to refuse publication of any benchmark

    So ya, I can publish benchmarks, if VMWare is OK with it. Which can mean practically anything. If the benchmarks are unfavorable towards ESX VMWare could simply claim the the methodology isn’t good and therefore the results won’t be published, or just give no reason at all.

    So internal testing could be done, but going beyond that to verify methodology (outside of VMWare verifying methodology) simply can’t be done unless the results happen to be favorable for VMWare. And thinking that VMWare will knowingly allow publication of results that make it look worse than the competition would be very naive.

  16. @Kyle Cunningham:
    The benchmarking restrictions in VMware’s EULA are not unique. Oracle has the same guidelines as does Microsoft, Symantec, Virtual Iron (for a while), and several other companies. The reason is simple – benchmarking is hard to do correctly and very easy to screw up or skew the results. All that VMware is trying to do is make sure the tests were done correctly and have valid results. If VMware doesn’t win the benchmark it doesn’t matter as long as the test was run correctly.

    It’s certainly simpler to stand back, think that all companies that are in business to make money are evil, and play the “I might as well not even try” card. But until you actually do what you’re talking about and produce the same results that you’re prognosticating, you’re just generating FUD. I understand your pessimism, and I have certainly seen my fair share of corporate stupidity, but I have not yet seen anyone actually do a thorough performance test according to VMware’s guidelines, publish them, and then get told to take them down because the results weren’t favorable for VMware.

  17. http://dev.osso.nl/herman/blog/2008/08/06/virtualization-xen-and-kvm/
    Another happy (soon to be) KVM user.

    With KVM you nearly get all cool linux features like powersaving for example ( Green-IT … buzzword bingo 🙂 ).
    It is nice to see that easy, clean, fast, well supported solutions can win ( sometimes .. SELinux seems to be winning too 😛 ).

  18. @Tom: Huh. Cool! =:) And sorry, but SELinux gives me gas, no matter how good it may be technically. =:P

  19. thx all for the discusion 🙂 i was searching for the stuff about virtualisation and founded this…

    you clarified a bunch of thing for me and that just awesome 🙂

    cheers

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