VMware’s Hypervisor is FREE!

On Monday, July 28, 2008, VMware announced that VMware ESXi will be available for free download from our website.  This is a major strategic move for VMware and is designed to help new customers of all sizes get started quickly and easily with VMware virtualization.  Now there are far fewer, if any,  financial or technical obstacles to reducing costs and simplifying application deployment with virtual machines.

This is a continuation of a long-term strategy that started with making VMware Server free in 2006.  Since then, we’ve seen millions of downloads and educated tens of thousands of new customers on the value of VMware’s virtual infrastructure products.  VMware ESXi, derived from and sharing the same code base as the industry-leading ESX, continues this strategy by making “bare metal”, enterprise-class hypervisor features accessible to everyone.  It satisfies the two key requirements for a free product: simple to use but robust and mature enough for the most demanding tasks.  Customers can be up and running with virtual machines in minutes.

In a previous post I talked about the many features of the ESXi architecture that make it so easy to deploy while offering new levels of security and reliability.  The OS-independent design represents a unique approach to hypervisor architecture that frees this fundamental computing layer from legacy of vulnerabilities that plague general purpose operating systems like Windows.

The Scalable Platform for Applications

But for the new virtualization user, I want to emphasize the core technology that has long made ESX, and now ESXi, the most trusted hypervisor in the industry today.  Both hypervisors offer features, such as 4 virtual CPUs, 256GB hosts, NIC teaming, and memory de-duplication, for running the most resource intensive applications simultaneously.  We have invested significantly in engineering features and optimizing the core kernel to provide the highest consolidation ratios while still offering near-native performance for each application.

Importantly, these features work equally well regardless of your guest operating system, be it Windows, Linux, Netware, etc.  VMware has the broadest support for guest operating systems and we do not play favorites.  VMware does not have an operating system agenda.  VMware ESXi is offered no strings attached – with no expensive operating system upgrade required.  The same can’t be said for our competition…

The Road to a Virtual Infrastructure

Aside from availability as a single server hypervisor, ESXi is also a component of the VMware Infrastructure suite. Customers deploy VMware Infrastructure to transform their computing environments from individual servers into a shared pool of CPU, memory, network, and storage resources that can be dynamically allocated to applications as demand changes.  VMware VMotion, VMware HA, and VMware DRS were first introduced in mid-2006 and have become necessary components for production consolidation.  VMware has since added additional products to the suite to extend our lead, including VMware Update Manager for automated patching, VMware Storage VMotion for near-zero-downtime migration of virtual machine disks, and VMware Distributed Power Management (a feature of DRS) for minimizing hardware power consumption when application demands decrease.  These products work together to create a resilient and flexible virtual infrastructure.

VMware’s Management and Automation products take advantage of this virtual infrastructure to automate and standardize critical IT processes such as disaster recovery (Site Recovery Manager), virtual machine deployment and decommissioning (Lifecycle Manager), application release management (Stage Manager), and software development (Lab Manager).

A Virtual World

Underlying all these capabilities sits, of course, the hypervisor.  So ESXi is a critical and core technology for enabling a tremendous amount of value for customers.  Making it free, then, is about getting as many people started with virtualization as possible – really making virtualization ubiquitous and making virtual machines the standard unit of management.  Once they make that first small step, customers quickly see the power and the benefits of VMware’s Datacenter and Desktop virtualization products.