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I'm planning use vmware to upgrade some of very aged server instead replace with all new bunch of server. VMWare vSphere sounds great but because of low budget I can't afford for both licenses and SANs. Without SAN, is vSphere worth the price? As I know without SAN, the VMWare HA, VMontion, FT is unavailable. So, do I need vSphere or only ESXi free version assume that I only need backup vm daily? Do you know any completed solution about backup on ESXi 4?

TIA,

-Gk

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There are three components you need to consider;

  1. ESX Licences - ESXi (not ESX) is free but limited when free, you can't give VMs the full 8 vCPUs, don't have HA, FT or DRS functionality etc. but it works just fine with or without shared storage. If you want these functions it's going to cost.
  2. vCenter - this management software costs but is the only way to make two or more ESX/i hosts work together to provide HA, FT, have DRS functionality etc. Note that the ability to live migrate guest VMs from host to host requires shared storage.
  3. Shared storage - without this you can't live migrate from host to host or support HA.

So really it comes down to your downtime requirements, if you NEED HA, DRS, vMotion, FT to increase your service uptime then you need ESX licences, a vCenter licence and shared storage. If you don't need these functions you don't need any of these extra-cost items.

Oh and there are free backup solutions for unlicenced hosts, such as GhettoVCB.

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Great answer. I'll add that I've used ESXi for a year now, and didn't utilize my SAN. I'm in the process of extending and complixifying my setup to the point that I will be able to utilize it better. –  Matt Simmons Apr 13 '10 at 11:52
    
Matt, I'm a big ESXi/SAN user/designer - let me know if you want a chat about it before you start ok. –  Chopper3 Apr 13 '10 at 12:01
    
Thanks for your detailed answer. It's so messy because many of many products of VMWare. I've downloaded newest version of ESXi, it seems that WMware decide to remove ssh server from ESXi, I can't find config file, start-up script,... Anyone can confirm that? Have anyway to bring it back :( –  Gk. Apr 13 '10 at 16:10
    
Yeah you're right, ESXi was designed specifically to be smaller and lighter, removing almost all if the console components. There is an unsupported command line interface and of course an excellent and fully supported remote command line tool but I'm interested in what you would use them for... –  Chopper3 Apr 13 '10 at 16:38

You could start with ESXi free. If HA (High Availability) is required you can purchase vSphere Essential Plus license that enables you to use up to 3 hosts (physical servers), with no more than two CPU with no more than 6 core per CPU.

Of course, you need a vmware certified shared storage.

HA could be a good fault tolerant solution: if a physical server fails, all its virtual server reboot on the surviving server(s).

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