VMware ESX and ESXi Comparison


Capability

VMware ESX

VMware ESXi

Service Console

Service Console is a standard Linux environment through which a user has privileged access to the VMware ESX kernel. This Linux-based privileged access allows you to highly customizing your environment by installing agents and drivers and executing scripts and other Linux-environment code.

VMware ESXi is designed to make the server a computing appliance. Accordingly, VMware ESXi behaves more like firmware than traditional software. To provide hardware-like security and reliability, VMware ESXi does not support a privileged access environment like the Service Console of VMware ESX. To enable interaction with agents, VMware has provisioned CIM Providers through which monitoring and management tasks – traditionally done through Service Console agents – can be performed. VMware has provisioned RCLI to allow the execution of scripts.

Remote CLI

VMware ESX Service Console has a host CLI command through which VMware ESX can be configured. ESX 3.5 Update 2 supports RCLI.

VMware ESX Service Console CLI has been ported to a Remote CLI (RCLI) for VMware ESXi. RCLI is a virtual appliance that interacts with VMware ESXi hosts to enable host configuration through scripts or specific commands.

Note: RCLI is limited to read-only access for the free version of VMware ESXi. To enable full functionality of RCLI on a VMware ESXi host, the host must be licensed with VI Foundation, VI Standard, or VI Enterprise.

The following Service Console CLI commands have not been implemented in RCLI:

  • ESXcfg-info
  • ESXcfg-resgrp
  • ESXcfg-swiscsi

Scriptable Installation

VMware ESX supports scriptable installations through utilities like KickStart.

VMware ESXi Installable does not support scriptable installations in the manner ESX does, at this time. VMware ESXi does provide support for post installation configuration script using RCLI-based configuration scripts.

Serial Cable Connectivity

VMware ESX supports interaction through direct-attached serial cable to the VMware ESX host.

VMware ESXi does not support interaction through direct-attached serial cable to the VMware ESXi host at this time.

SNMP

VMware ESX supports SNMP.

VMware ESXi supports SNMP when licensed to a VI Foundation, VI Standard, or VI Enterprise edition. The free version of VMware ESXi does not support SNMP.

Active Directory Integration

VMware ESX supports Active Directory integration through third-party agents installed on the Service Console.

VMware ESXi with a Virtual Infrastructure license and in conjunction with VirtualCenter allows users to be authenticated via Active Directory. In this configuration, users can log in directly to an ESXi host and authenticate using a local username and password.
The free version of VMware ESXi does not support Active Directory integration at this time.

HW Instrumentation

Service Console agents provide a range of HW instrumentation on VMware ESX.

VMware ESXi provides HW instrumentation through CIM Providers. Standards-based CIM Providers are distributed with all versions of VMware ESXi. VMware partners may inject their own proprietary CIM Providers in customized versions of VMware ESXi. To obtain a customized version of VMware ESXi, you typically have to purchase a server with embedded VMware ESXi through a server vendor.
At this time, HP also offers its customized VMware ESXi Installable on www.vmware.com. Dell and IBM will soon offer their customized version of VMware ESXi on www.vmware.com.
Remote console applications like Dell DRAC, HP iLO, and IBM RSA are supported with ESXi.

Note: COS agents have a longer lineage than CIM Providers and are therefore more mature. VMware is actively working with its 250+ partners to close the CIM Provider–Service Console agent gap.

Software Patches and Updates

VMware ESX software patches and upgrades behave like traditional Linux based patches and upgrades. The installation of a software patch or upgrade may require multiple system boots as the patch or upgrade may have dependencies on previous patches or upgrades.

VMware ESXi patches and updates behave like firmware patches and updates. Any given patch or update is all-inclusive of previous patches and updates. That is, installing patch version “n” includes all updates included in patch versions n-1, n-2, and so forth.

VI Web Access

VMware ESX supports managing your virtual machines through VI Web Access. You can use the VI Web Access to connect directly to the ESX host or to the VMware Infrastructure Client.

VMware ESXi does not support web access at this time.

Licensing

VMware ESX hosts can be licensed as part of a VMware Infrastructure 3 Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise suite.

VMware ESXi hosts can be individually licensed (for free) or licensed as part of a VMware Infrastructure 3 Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise suite.

Individually licensed ESXi hosts offer a subset of management capabilities (see SNMP and Remote CLI).

ESXi

(ESX not available without VI)

VI Foundation

(with ESX or ESXi)

VI Standard

(with ESX or ESXi)

VI Enterprise

(with ESX or ESXi)

Core hypervisor functionality

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Virtual SMP

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

VMFS

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

VirtualCenter Agent

Yes

Yes

Yes

Update Manager

Yes

Yes

Yes

Consolidated Backup

Yes

Yes

Yes

High Availability

Yes

Yes

VMotion

Yes

Storage VMotion

Yes

DRS

Yes

DPM

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