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VMware ESXi: What Is ESXi, and What Are Its Features?

VMware products are generally known and easy to explain. However, VMware ESXi is one of the lesser-known products under several different names – to confuse things.

VMware ESXi is a purpose-built bare-metal hypervisor currently an industry-leading service due to its many features. It is a company rather than individual software, and this is strongly reflected in its design. It is mounted directly on a physical server which means it can be split into several virtual machines, significantly reducing the need for hardware acquisition, upgrades, or maintenance.

The initials ES refer to "Elastic Sky", which was the initial word related to the software's marketing. "I" stands for integrated because this software version can be integrated into small flash memory. And 'X'? That's the best part of them all. The 'X' is here because it makes it sound more excellent and more technical. And this is no joke.

It's one of those great examples of where the marketing and R&D departments meet.

Advantages of VMware ESXi?

One of VMware ESXi's most significant advantages is that the architecture dramatically simplifies the process of maintaining a consistent virtual infrastructure. It is a bare metal, a model with basic features, meaning it has several configuration options.

While this can be considered a bad thing, it is equivalent to VMware having a 5-button control panel instead of 50. Yes, it has fewer features and fewer customization options, but it is also much more user-friendly. An easy-to-maintain virtual infrastructure is a real boon for any company.

The security of VMware ESXi may be more important than how easy it is for users. The management functionality is built into VMkernel and provides a 150 MB fingerprint that is very difficult to accurately attack with malware and other threats, which means that the system is much safer from threats and more secure daily.

There is also no need for a single administrative account to perform administrative tasks, and individual arrangements may be assigned specific roles and privileges instead. This means that a compromised account should not mean a complete disaster.

Combining security and administrative features, VMware ESXI keeps a detailed log of all user activity to ensure user accountability and easy, error-free auditing.

VMware ESXi is managed via the API, which means agent-free access does not require additional installation or licenses for management options. Remote commands such as the vSphere and PowerCLI command line interface allow commanding and scripting in a much more precise, fast, and controlled way for configuration and diagnostics.

VMware ESXi also allows virtual machines created by Microsoft Virtual Server, Microsoft Virtual PC, or VMware Server to run on ESXi and supports conversions from physical devices and other third-party sources.

What does it take to run VMware ESXi?

You need at least one dual-core connector to provide enough CPU edge for the VMware ESXi to run literally. For best results, it is urged to have a minimum of 1GbE dual network adapters. The required memory for bare-bones is 4 GB, with a recommended minimum of 8 GB.

Although the VMware ESXi is a free hypervisor, it also has a paid alternative with a host of additional features. The features include:

  • Pooling computer and storage resources across multiple physical hosts
  • Higher service and efficiency levels
  • Live machine migration
  • Automatic load balancing
  • Business continuity and advanced backup
  • Recovery of virtual machines, and more