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Today we have a guest post from Ganesh Shetty, who is a Tech Support Engineer in our Bangalore office who specializes in Licensing issues. Today, he answers some very frequently asked questions about ESXi, or as it now known, vSphere Hypervisor. 

If you are planning to install vSphere Hypervisor (formerly known as VMware ESXi Single Server or free ESXi) soon, here is some licensing information that may be helpful.

The free vSphere Hypervisor Serial Key that you receive can be used to license any number of standalone ESX hosts as long as they don’t exceed 100 physical servers. We get a lot of questions on this.

Another commonly asked question is what features does vSphere Hypervisor contain?

The free version license key allows you to manage the host only as a standalone. It does not contain the feature virtual center agent, hence the vSphere hypervisor host that is licensed with it cannot be added to Virtual Center. Consequentially, you cannot avail features like vMotion, DRS, HA etc. The only major product feature that you receive with vSphere Hypervisor is Thin Provisioning.

Also, it is worthwhile to know that the features are locked and unlocked by the License key that is used and not by the binaries you download. That is, if you replace the free version license with an Enterprise Plus license key, you unlock all the features I mentioned above and you get full functionality.

VMware used to sell only vCenter agent licenses with Virtual Infrastructure 3. However, with vSphere there is no option of purchasing Virtual Center Agent Licenses separately. Instead, you can purchase vSphere Essentials. VSphere Essentials allows you to manage 3 ESXi hosts centrally. The downside, if you want to call it that, is that you can only manage a maximum of 3 hosts with 2 CPU’s each.

To see a full comparison between the features of vSphere Hypervisor and Essential/Essential Plus, follow this link.