I bought vSphere Essentials which I've installed on 2 physical machines, and set up the servers using vSphere client. This part is working well, and there is 1 VM on each ESXi install (esxi 5.0.0)

But I've noticed that my license also includes vSphere server, which seems to be a windows server application.

  • So if I want to use it, do I need to install it on another Windows server with no domain running on it?
  • What benefits does it give me if I assign another machine to this, and can I put it on a virtual machine.
  • Does it need much resources? (ie., Can I run it on my exchange server?)

I can do snapshots on my virtual machines using vSphere client.

2 Answers 2


vCenter Server is basically a management tool that will allow you to manage VM's across multiple VMware hosts at once. You'll connect to vCenter Server with a vSphere client and instead of one host you'll see multiple hosts at once.

You can migrate VM's from one host to another via vMotion (although with Essentials you can't do it while the VM is running, and it requires shared storage). vCenter is especially useful for the more expensive VMware licenses, to manage things like DRS, HA, clustering and vMotion. With Essentials the use is more limited, but I also have Essentials and I've still found it to be quite useful to see my entire VM collection at once.

vCenter Server runs well in a virtual Windows box. It needs SQL Server Express or better and a 64-bit Windows OS.

  • Thanks a lot for that. I'm still trying to work out if it's worth £400 for another Windows License. It sounds more 'cool' than 'necessary' for our setup at the moment (not that that usually stops us!) May 1, 2012 at 23:51
  • 3
    It also greatly simplifies deployment of Windows VMs with its ability to clone, sysprep and customize in just two or three clicks. May 2, 2012 at 0:21
  • @TomBeech don't forget about Windows licensing as it applies to VMs. For example a single Enterprise license allows for 4 VMs. Datacenter edition allows for any number of VMs per physical server.
    – MDMarra
    May 2, 2012 at 2:15
  • 1
    vCenter also makes updating your hosts easier with the included VMware Update Manager component. Without it you have to update each host manually via CLI. This could also be a good use case for the vCenter Server Appliance if you don't want to use a windows license. VCSA is a vCenter instance running on a stripped down SUSE install which provides the bulk of vCenter's functionality.
    – SonoIT
    May 2, 2012 at 14:11
  • @MDMarra Datacenter edition allows for any number of VMs per physical CPU only.
    – emtunc
    Jul 13, 2012 at 22:24

VMware vCenter is an application that manages the ESX(i) nodes. You can use it do do clustering features, migrate machines from one host to another, etc. (read the whitepaper and documentation on VMware's site - too much to write here, and a lot of the features depend on the license you have).

Usually you want the vCenter on another PC, especially if you want to use the high-availability features. It uses a database (I think MSSQL Express by default), and some Java, end eats up a couple of gigs of RAM easily.

Of course, if you wish to manage each ESX(i) node by itself, and do not wish to manage another server, and have no need for advanced features, you can of course continue using just the vSphere client - with one VM per ESX, it might even be a lot easier :)

I'm not a windows admin, so I have no idea about the Exchange + vCenter combination.

  • Clustering isnt a massive thing for us but migration could potentially be cool. Is it clever enough that if one vm is down to boot it, if it can't boot up a vm on another server (i was going to script that myself) May 1, 2012 at 23:45
  • Tom, VMware calls that kind of functionality HA (high availability) and it requires a higher license than Essentials. You'll need to script that yourself. May 1, 2012 at 23:49

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