Free ESXi dropped, what are the options for small businesses?

In February 2024, shortly after the acquisition for VMware by Broadcom, VMware has removed their free hypervisor ESXi from their website. 

End Of General Availability of the Free vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 7.x and 8.x) (2107518)

This edition was used by those running a home lab but also by some small businesses that wanted to run only a few VM's. Licenses for running a home lab can still be acquired with a VMUG Advantage membership, they offer a 365 days license for personal use in non-production environments for a range of VMware products.

Options for Small Businesses

With the transitioning to subscription based licensing and shrinking the product portfolio VMware has also removed one of the two bundles that where frequently used by customers that needed to run only a maximum of three servers. The vSphere Essentials Kit has been dropped and only the vSphere Essentials Plus Kit is still available, but in a subscription model.

The VMware vSphere® Product Line Comparison PDF has been updated to reflect the new vSphere offerings and contains only the vSphere Essentials Plus Kit. Also the VMware product website for vSphere shows the offerings in the Compare Editions section.  

The vSphere Essentials Plus Kit contains a subscription license for 3 hosts with a maximum of 96 cores and one vCenter Essentials server for central management. This kit contains vMotion and High Availability (among other features), which where the two features that where the most important ones to move to the Essentials Plus Kit from the regular Essentials Kit.

It's hard to say exactly how this will work out in terms of annual costs, you really need to talk to your reseller to get an exact quote for your specific situation. But there is a very good source that explains about the licensing costs that the author wrote on a personal account, it is an excellent article written by Derek Loseke in which he explains how the new subscription model works out for the Essentials Plus Kit: Decoding the new Broadcom VMware vSphere Licensing Packages (for Small Deployments).



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