We got notice that the direct ESX download links were removed from the download page of vSphere: a strong signal from VMware for all those organizations still using the once-flagship hypervisor.
VMware stated multiple times that the future lies in ESXi (or Hypervisor, as it is now named) and tiny hypervisors with very small footprint: ESX will be shifted for ESXi-Hypervisor from the next version of vSphere.
The ESX download page is still reachable from an indirect link in the page, but this is indeed a very strong signal that everyone should start planning for its demise.
VMware is focusing more and more on the high-level centralized management offered by vCenter and the ecosystem, up to vCloud Director: the old-style ESX with its command line switches and fine grained host configuration simply doesn’t fit the new strategy.
VMware already announced shift-out plans, and the removal is a very clear statement in that direction. Quoting VMware:
VMware vSphere 4.1 is the last release to support both the ESX and ESXi hypervisor architectures.
Future vSphere releases will only support the ESXi architecture. VMware recommends:
- New deployments of vSphere 4.x are done on ESXi
- Existing ESX deployments of vSphere 4.x or older are migrated to ESXi
- Take a free new training course on ESXi essentials
Enterprises heavily relying on advanced or custom ESX-only features should start evaluating their exit/upgrade strategy from the platform, moving to the lean ESXi line and embracing the philosophy of “light” hypervisors in full.
UPDATE as the comments pointed out, VMware added a direct download option at the bottom of the page. For a quick reference on how the download page changed, compare the page as of the 5th of May – the difference is easily noticeable, with ESX being taken outside the main download tables and having one of its own.