VMware Frees Up ESXi

Virtualization pioneer gets all aggressive, turns its hypervisor into freeware

July 29, 2008

2 Min Read
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In a bold move designed to challenge its two main rivals, VMware announced its plans to offer its ESXi hypervisor for free today, less than a year after the virtualization specialist overhauled the technology .

The vendor first discussed its plans to turn ESXi into freeware during its second quarter earnings call last week in what is seen as a defensive action against the likes of Citrix/XenSource and Microsoft, which recently launched its Hyper-V hypervisor.

By abruptly dropping its $495 ESXi licensing fee, VMware is clearly firing a shot across the bows of Microsofts $28 Hyper-V and the open-source Xen hypervisor.

"This has been a long time coming – they knew that there would come a time when they couldn’t charge for the hypervisor," says Chris Wolf, senior analyst at the Burton Group. "VMware had to ask themselves 'do we want to lose out in enterprises where price is a factor'?"

At least one user welcomed the move, citing its impact on his annual IT budget.”It’s awesome, it’s really, really good,” says Daniel Jacobs, systems analyst at the Foothills School Division, which encompasses 22 schools in Alberta, Canada.

The official explained that he bought two ESXi hypervisor licenses last year, so today’s announcement effectively frees up around $1,000 to spend on other IT gear. “[The ESXi licenses] are coming up for renewal, so obviously paying for them won’t be an issue.”

Despite today’s announcement, Burton Group’s Wolf feels that there is more work for VMware to do around pricing, particularly with its Virtual Infrastructure software bundle, which starts at $995, rising to a cost of $5750.

”They need to add either more features around the free ESXi or drop the pricing of some of the licensing tiers that they have today for things like Virtual Infrastructure,” he says. “They want to be as aggressive as they can in this period [because] by 2010 there will be several mature offerings that could compete with VMware.”

Hypervisors have certainly become something of a key battleground in the virtualization war, with the major vendors attempting to embed the technology in as many servers as possible.Dell, for example, recently announced plans to embed VMware’s ESXi hypervisor on a number of its PowerEdge and blade servers. HP has a similar deal to put the technology on 10 of its x86 servers, and both IBM and Fujitsu Siemens are shipping ESXi on two servers apiece.

So far, Citrix's hypervisor is available embedded in servers from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and NEC.

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  • Burton Group

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Fujitsu Siemens Computers

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Lenovo Group Ltd.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)

  • VMware Inc.

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