In our previous article, “VMware Versions Compared“, we compared the various products in VMware’s product line. For example, the difference between VMware Server, Workstation, and Server ESX. In this article, we will focus specifically on the VMware ESX product line and the VMware virtualization suite called VMware Infrastructure. With a variety of VMware Infrastructure suites and ESX Server product options, it is difficult to know which is right for you. Let’s find out…
As you probably already know, VMware ESX is an enterprise grade virtualization product by VMware. Unlike VMware Server, VMware ESX does not require an underlying operating system to be loaded first. What this means is that you get the highest virtualization performance that is possible when using VMware ESX Server.
So what is VMware Infrastructure (VI)? VI, is really just a product suite. Keep that in mind. There is really no application called “VMware Infrastructure”. VI is a bundle of VMware products.
When you buy a VMware Infrastructure suite, you are really just buying VMware ESX Server, the VMFS file system, and some number of options. No matter which suite or bundle you buy, you MUST get VMware ESX as that is the core virtualization product you will need.
So what options are available for VMware ESX? (some of these were covered in our VMware Versions Compared article)
There are three VMware Infrastructure Suites available: Starter, Standard, and Enterprise. Here is how they compare:
Also, keep in mind that no matter which option you choose if you want to use centralized management and/or you want to use features like VMotion, VM HA, or VM DRS, you must purchase Virtual Center separately, at a cost of approximately $5000.
Now that you know what options are available for ESX Server and can see all the different VMware Infrastructure suites that are available, which do you choose? That question can be answered by finding out which options you require and matching that up with the right suite. The centralized management of Virtual Center is a huge benefit anytime you have more than just a couple of servers. You should know that you can purchase some of the options like VM HA, VM DRS, VCB, and SMP separately, if you just need one or two of these options.
In general, I would recommend the starter edition for those who just have a single server to virtualize. Beyond that, I would recommend just jumping to the enterprise edition if your company can justify the costs. VMware Infrastructure can do some truly amazing things when it has all the capabilities that are available.
In summary, choosing the right VMware ESX / Virtual Infrastructure suite can be difficult if you don’t have all the information you need to make a comparison. In this article, you learned the VMware ESX Server options & capabilities that are available as well as the VMware Virtual Infrastructure Editions that you can choose from. After reading this article, you should be able to quickly tell which VMware Virtual Infrastructure Edition is right for your company.