In our last blog post, we discussed what motivated VMware to create ESXi and how its unique streamlined architecture, with no dependence on a general purpose operating system (Windows or Linux), makes it a more reliable, secure and efficient virtualization platform. These benefits are fundamental advantages of ESXi over other hypervisors, however there’s more. In fact, ESXi is also the ideal solution to quickly jumpstart a free virtual environment without a lot of pre-existing virtualization expertise.
The first key ingredient for jumpstarting a free virtual environment is a simple installation and set up process. The video linked below that the guys at GoVirtual.tv put together shows how installing ESXi is very straightforward and can be completed in a few minutes with basic system administration skills.
While a simple installation process for a hypervisor is certainly important, it represents only the initial step towards the ultimate goal of migrating applications from physical servers to virtual machines and getting them up and running as rapidly and smoothly as possible. For most large companies these are now well established processes of datacenter operations, however for first time users or resource constrained small business they could still represent a roadblock towards virtualizing apps. To help remove this roadblock, in January 2010, VMware launched VMware GO – a free web service for SMBs to help them virtualize their physical servers on ESXi and have the new virtual machines up and running with just a few mouse clicks.
VMware GO eliminates the few manual operations still present in ESXi’s installation (like verifying the hardware compatibility list or burning a CD with ESXi’s image), provides everything needed to deploy VMs on ESXi hosts, and offers basic management and reporting capabilities. Here is a list of what VMware GO can do:
- automatically check hardware for ESXi compatibility
- download ESXi and burn installation CD
- verify configuration of new ESXi installation
- apply NTP settings
- convert physical servers to virtual machines
- create, delete and resize VMs
- download and deploy virtual appliances from VMware’s Virtual Appliance Marketplace
- open a remote console to a VM
- scan ESXi hosts and VMs for patches
- generate reports: ESXi host inventory, VM inventory, patch status
You can see VMware GO in action in this great video that Dave Davis at TRAINSIGNAL recorded (Dave’s video is based on the beta version of VMware GO, nevertheless it is a very good overview of actual capabilities).
The video clearly shows how VMware GO perfectly complements the already simple installation process of ESXi, making it extremely fast not only to set up the hypervisor, but also to deploy virtual machines and perform basic centralized management tasks – all for free! Keeping in mind the unique benefits of ESXi’s architecture discussed in our previous blog post, it is easy to see how by providing greater advantages in terms of reliability and ease of use than even Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix XenServer VMware GO + ESXi is a better solution for first time users and budget constrained small businesses.