Free ESXi! Now With 8 GB Limit!
July 17, 2011 11 Comments
Update 9/8/11: Check out my guide for building/buying an inexpensive ESXi host
Update 8/4/11: Woohoo! They’ve up’d it to 32 GB of vRAM allocation (and max 32 GB of physical RAM too).
Update 7/18/11: Yes, it’s true. Here is it in writing (last FAQ entry).
Wow, this keeps getting worse and worse.
Many techies such as myself have been running ESXi 4.1 in our home labs. The free license runs full blown ESXi with some limits, such as no vmotion, no HA, no vCenter integration, etc. It’s fine for a lab environment, and perfect for a home lab where I need to test a lot of systems.
I was about to publish an article called “So You Want To Build an ESXi System?” on how to build a cheap home system. (Hint: you could build a cheap home system for about $1,000 that had 24 GB of RAM and 4 cores.)
But now, there are reports that VMware has made the free version of vSphere 5 Hypervisor (essentially it’s ESXi 5.0 renamed) absolutely useless by limiting the total amount of RAM to 8 GB per host. I’ll say that again: You can only use total of 8 GB of RAM for all your VMs on a host, no matter how much RAM it has.
8 GB? Seriously?
The licensing change for the paid version was bad enough. We used to be able to increase RAM on our licensed ESX/ESXi hosts free to increase utilization. The same went with the free version of EXSi. Below is a screenshot of my current ESXi license. I get up to 6 cores on one CPU (I have a quad-core Intel Core i7) and up to 256 GB of RAM (my host has 18 GB).
Sure, 256 GB of RAM is a bit much. I’d accept a lot lower than that for a limit, I think even 32 GB would be reasonable (although it wouldn’t be reasonable for more than a few years). I’d even accept the current core limit (or maybe bump it up to no more than 8?) But 8 GB? That’s a useless home lab.
Look, VMware, I know you’re in it to make a buck. I don’t fault you for that. I like money too. I too have fantasies of swimming through a vault of gold like Scrouge McDuck.
If this is true it’s a huge blow the VMware community, and given that the vRAM allocation for the lowest paid license is 24 GB, the 8 GB limit for free seems about right.
I’ve been a passionate advocate of VMware, I’m VCP4 certified, and I teach courses that involve virtualization. The only VM vendor out of my mouth for the most part has been VMware. You’ve treated the community well in the past, and we the nerd class and IT managers have rewarded you handsomely with server virtualization market dominance. A fantastic ecosystem has cropped up, and you could make a good living within the VMware world. The licensing moves challenge this. All that built-up good will? It’s quickly fading fast.