ESX Server

VMware’s ESX
is at
the highest end
of features and
price of all the
VMware server
The ESX actually
loads right on
to “bare-metal”
servers. Thus,
there is no need
to first load an
operating system
prior to loading
VMware ESX. What
is unique about
ESX is that it
comes with its
own modified
Linux Kernel
called VMKernel
(based on Red
Hat Enterprise
Linux). One of
the strongest
features of
VMware ESX
server is its
When running on
hardware, you
can run twice as
many virtual
servers on ESX
as you can
VMware Server.
ESX is now sold
in a suite of
products called


Enterprise Class
High Availability
Better Manageability
Used for enterprise applications like Oracle, SQL Server, clustered servers, and other critical infrastructure servers
Supports 4-10+ virtual machines per servers, depending on hardware
Supports up to 32 physical CPU (and 128 virtual) and up to 64GB of RAM
Loads directly on hardware with no need to load underlying operating system (because it uses the VMKernel)

VMWare Server

VMware’s Server

is a FREE VMware
product built
for use in
servers. Unlike
ESX, VMware
Server still
uses the
underlying host
system. With
VMware Server,
you loose the
some of the
and performance
of the ESX
server but don’t
have as great of
price tag (its
free!) For an
starting with a
single VMware
server and not
drastic growth,
VMware Server is
for you. VMware
Server’s primary
competition is
Virtual Server.

Used for medium/small business workgroup servers
Excellent for software development uses
Used for Intranet, utility, and workgroup application servers
Supports 2-4+ virtual machines per servers, depending on hardware
Supports 2-16 CPU and up to 64GB of RAM (but limited by host OS)
Runs on top of Linux or Windows Server



is for use on a client workstation. For example, say that I want to run
both Windows 2003 server and Linux Fedora Core 5 on my desktop
workstation, which is running Windows XP. VMware Workstation would be
the program I would use to do this. This would allow me the flexibility
to run these guest operating systems to test various applications and
features. I could also create snapshots of them to capture their
configuration at a certain point in time and easily duplicate them to
create other virtual machines (such as moving them to a VMware Server).
Keep in mind that I would have to have a “beefy” workstation with lots
of RAM and CPU to keep up with the applications I am also running on my
host operating system (Windows XP). Some people ask whether you could
run Workstation on a “server” and just not have to use VMware Server.
The answer is that, while you can do this, you don’t want to because
the server’s applications won’t perform well under load and neither
will the multiple operating systems. You might ask why you would buy
VMware workstation for $189 when VMware Server is free. Many people
would assume that Server is better and costs less. The answer is that
these VMware Workstation and VMware Server serve different purposes.
VMware Server should be used to run test or production servers. On the
other hand, VMware Workstation would be used by testers and developers
because of its powerful snapshot manager. This development and testing
also applies to IT professionals who want the ability to take multiple
snapshots of their virtual systems and be able to jump forward and back
in these snapshots. However, you do not want to run production servers
in VMware Workstation. In other words, both VMware Workstation and
VMware Server have different purposes and should not be looked at as
competing products.

Runs on your desktop operating system
Costs $189
Great for testing applications and developing software
Can create new virtual machines, where VMware Player cannot
Support bridged, host only, or NAT network configurations
Ability to share folders between host OS and virtual machines
Access to host devices like CD/DVD drives and USB devices
Snapshot manager allows multiple snapshots and ability to move forward and backwards between them


Virtual Center
provides a
console for all
VMware servers.
If you plan to
grow your farm
of virtualized
servers into the
ten’s and
hundreds, over
time, you should
have Virtual
Center in your


Like magic,

move a running
virtual server
to another
physical server,
that server’s
requests. This
can be done for
maintenance of
hardware or to
better balance
VMotion requires
a SAN be used
for these

Both Virtual Center and VMotion are part of the VMWare vManage offering.

VMware Converter

The VMware Converter is used to move physical machine operating systems
to virtual machines. This tool automates the migration to virtual
machines. Besides migrating, the Converter can be used to create images
of physical systems for disaster recovery purposes. Currently in Beta,
the VMware Converter will replace the P2V Assistant.