As unveiled during the Q2 2008 earnings report, VMware today releases its flagship product, the bare-metal hypervisor ESX (formerly ESX Server), as a 100% free download (there’s no need to buy a support subscription).
This is the third virtualization platform that the company gives away at no cost: in December 2005 VMware released its first free product, Player, and in July 2006 the commercial solution known as GSX Server was released for free as Server.
At this point the only hardware virtualization platform that VMware sells is Workstation (we wonder for how much).
This version of the hypervisor shares a large part of the code with the ESX included in the so called VMware Infrastructure, which reaches today the Update 2 milestone, so we can safely say that today the company releases ESXi 3.5 Update 2.
Of course ESXi doesn’t include VirtualCenter, so the enhanced management capabilities that it offers (like VMotion, DRS, HA, etc.) are not offered free of charge as well.
Despite that the free edition still includes an endless and well-known list of features that make the product highly desirable for SMBs.
Last week virtualization.info revealed some exclusive details about the company strategy behind this move, like what happens to the customers that already purchased ESXi, the destiny of VMware Server or the limitations in building a VirtualCenter clone (or something better) for 3rd party entities.
Not all companies seems to be worried of such limitations: Ericom for example just announced that it’s able to setup a VDI environment with just ESXi and its PowerTerm WebConnect.
Download VMware ESXi free of charge here.