VMware vSphere 6.x – Free and Paid editions

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VMware vSphere 6.x

We often receive questions regarding the differences between the Free and Paid version of VMware vSphere 6.x. We hope this article will help you to discover the differences between both versions of VMware vSphere 6.x.

At Snel.com we offer the free version of VMware vSphere 6.x (which is called VMware Hypervisor) because the Free version is identical to the paid VMware vSphere 6.x version. This means that you will get the exact same ISO image at free charge. However, the Free VMware vSphere 6.x version only stays unlocked for 60 days.

So the Hypervisor works as a full version for 2 months. When the trial period ends some features will be disabled. In order to use the full version again, you need to enter a serial number but before you upgrade to the paid VMware vSphere 6.x version you should consider whether the upgrade really is necessary. Below the limitations of the Free version have been highlighted.

What are the VMware Hypervisor (Free) limitations?

The main difference between the free version and paid version of VMware server are the below restrictions:

  • You are not able to manage via vCenter Server
  • Only 1 physical server is allowed (cluster with more physical servers not allowed)
  • Only 2 physical CPU per Hypervisor is allowed
  • Only 128 vCPU per Hypervisor is allowed
  • Maximum amount of vCPUs you can assign to a VM is limited to 8
  • Physical RAM limit of 12TB per Hypervisor is allowed
  • You need to acquire VM support

If you would like to upgrade to the paid version, then the only thing different between the free and the paid versions are the license keys. The software contains all of the functions, but you need to enable it with the keys. You do not have to install anything other than the new key and you need to configure the new functions.

VMware vSphere 6.x Editions Comparison Table

FeatureVMware Hypervisor (prev. ESXi Single Server)EssentialsEssentials Plus
Phys. RAM limitHost limit 12TBHost limit 12TBHost limit 12TB
vCenter Server compatibilityNonevCenter Server for Essentials (up to 3 physical servers)vCenter Server for Essentials (up to 3 physical servers)
LicensesFor 1 physical serverFor 3 physical servers (max. 2 processors per server)For 3 physical servers (max. 2 processors per server)
Unlimited number of virtual machines?No known limitNo known limitNo known limit
vCPU limit128128128
Per VM vCPU limit8NoNo
vCenter Server for Essentials AgentNoYesYes
Update ManagerNoYesYes
vStorage APIs for Data ProtectionNoYesYes
HA functionalityNoNoYes
Data recoveryNoNoYes
vSANNoNoYes, optional
Cores per CPUNo limitsNo limitsNo limits
Support and subscriptionsCan be acquired separatelyOne-year subscription is included in price1Must be acquired with min. 12 months Basic or Production Support
PriceTake a look at the website of VMware vSphere for the prices

1 Support is acquired per incident basis, more information is available on the website of VMware. No Basic or Production Level subscriptions possible. Multi-year subscriptions can be purchased.

Click to the link below for a more detailed comparison:
Product offerings for vSphere 6.x

VMware vSphere Hypervisor Overview (2:16)

References and additional information

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  1. Albert Pauw says

    Any idea about updates for the free version?
    If there is a new version out, can I run the new ISO and choose update?
    And do I have to require a new free license each time I update (assuming that it's possible)?

  2. Faisal says

    vStorage APIs for Data Protection : No

    "The main disadvantages of using free VMware ESXi are the inability to use vStorage APIs and, as a result, use native backup applications for performing host-level VM backup, as well as lack of access to centralized management with VMware vCenter Server."

    So, Free ESXi – Can we configure real-time replication Azure cloud Disaster recovery for VMs?

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