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I am not a sys-admin but a programmer by trade. I know what ESX server is and how it works, I also know and use VMWARE Workstation products.

But what is vSphere? From the marketing material it seems to be something to do with cloud computing. But how does it work? Is it an operating system? Or does it let you run other operating systems within it just like VMWare server or ESX ? How does it work and what need is it supposed to be solving?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

vSphere is the name for VMware technologies built around ESXi server, which is the successor to ESX server (ESX server & ESXi server comparison).

From the VMware website:

VMware vSphere Hypervisor is the free edition of VMware vSphere. It is based on ESXi, VMware's next-generation hypervisor architecture and provides basic server portioning capabilities for server consolidation.

VMware has several different vSphere kits available on their website, with different features depending on what your enterprise needs.

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So confusing. I wish they wouldn't keep changing the names of stuff. Microsoft is guilty of its wierd naming conventions too. (Different editions of windows, office, visual studio, etc) – 7wp Aug 20 '10 at 19:45

It is the new name for the enterprise management components from VMWare. ESX(i) is still the product name for their hyper-visor.

Basically it's the replacement branding for VirtualCenter, etc.

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