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What is VMware ESXi?

Posted on by Michael Flores Feliz | Updated:
Reading Time: 4 minutes

VMware ESXi is a bare-metal hypervisor software installed on servers that can use the physical hardware to create one or more virtual machines (VMs). It is an operating system-independent hypervisor based on the VMkernal operating system that interfaces with agents that run on top of it. ESXi stands for Elastic Sky X Integrated.

VMware ESXi is a type-1 hypervisor, meaning its installation is not on an operating system but instead integrates OS components within itself. This functionality allows you to use the total capacity of your hardware, efficiently dividing resources in virtualized environments for small or large-scale deployment. In addition, ESXi enables the configuration of the amount of CPU, Memory, hard disk usage, and the number of storage units or network adapters paired for the environment's needs.

This article walks you through what is VMware ESXi, how it works, and some basic benefits and tasks performed using ESXi.

How Does VMware ESXi Work?

VMware ESXi provides a robust virtualization layer between the hardware and the OS. Since it is standalone, no OS is necessary on the hardware before installation. Once installed, you will be able to manage and monitor your host.

VMware ESXi partitions the server into multiple secure and movable VMs running side by side on the same hardware. Each VM is a complete system, isolated one from another by the virtual layer. This isolation prevents one failed VM from affecting another.

The bare-metal architecture gives VMware ESXi control over server resources allocated to each virtual machine and provides near-native VM performance and enterprise-level scalability. In addition, VMware ESXi offers built-in high availability, resource management, and security features to deliver improved service levels to software applications than static physical environments.

VMware ESXi Requirements

VMware ESXi requires a physical computer or server with at least 4GB of RAM, 2 CPUs, and 32GB of storage. A RAID 1 storage configuration is recommended to mitigate drive failure and data loss. You must also turn on hardware virtualization in your system basic input/output system (BIOS) for ESXi to function correctly.

Each VM contains the following:

  • BIOS.
  • Processors.
  • Memory.
  • Storage.
  • Networking.

After creating a VM, an OS and software applications can be installed and run like any computing device.

Top Features of VMware ESXi

Application Size

VMware ESXi is 150Mb in size, one of the smallest hypervisors. Due to the size of the application, ESXi minimally uses RAM without affecting the input and output (I/O) of the boot device.

Installation Speed

VMware ESXi is installable straight from a USB device. Usually, ESXi takes about 5-7 minutes to install, which includes a variety of ways to install the OS and can even be used from an SD card. Also, importing a virtual machine into ESXi is a click away. 

Ease of Use

VMware ESXi can be easily remotely managed for your convenience. Administrators use a secure connection and the command line interface on their local device or from another location.

 Security

Encrypted data on VMware ESXi is on by default and makes decryption harder, adding additional security. This secure environment includes a detailed logging system for troubleshooting to locate and fix issues. In addition, the Tasks and Events tab in vSphere provides the ability to audit security and easily find changes made.

Easy Scalability

VMware ESXi has limits of 64 CPU cores and up to 6TB of RAM, which is considered to be a high limitation. However, starting with lower resources and adding them as your needs change is possible depending on your needs.

Top Business Benefits of VMware ESXi

Easy and Cost-Effective Deployment and Management

Since VMware ESXi is a minimal application for creating virtual machines, deployment is easy and fast to set up. It uses bare-metal or dedicated physical resources, making workloads easy to manage. Sharing physical resources among several VMs increases hardware utilization while decreasing costs. Once you have the hardware and ESXi all set up, the only additional investment needed is future hardware upgrades.

Create Test and Production Environments

VMware ESXi offers easy over-allocation of server resources. You can create servers to test new updates for compatibility and tweak them, allowing more resource usage. Production servers exist alongside test servers to host the completed project. Each server instance is separate, allowing for a more private test environment.

Common Tasks in VMware ESXi

Scaling Infrastructure

One of the most common tasks in WMware ESXi is scaling the environment, which is simple to do as your business grows. Scaling allows you to expand your CPU, RAM, and storage to handle more resource-intensive workloads. Each upscale on hardware requires a reboot to ensure settings reallocate correctly.

Setting Up Alarms for Resource Overloading.

VMware ESXi allows the creation or editing of alarms in the Monitor tab of the interface for any alerts you’d like to receive. For example, the system performs specific health checks for virtual machines. You can add and edit them with a few clicks and see the alarm definitions. The interface also provides a notification history for anyone needing to troubleshoot. However, it is worth noting that you are not allowed to edit the default alarms preset in ESXi.

Assigning Roles to users in your company/business

The administrator configuring VMware ESXi has the most control as the root controls ESXi and the server's hardware. Each VM should have permissions and user roles assigned to perform specific tasks. For example, users will have assigned roles associated with what they need to view, check, or troubleshoot. Certain users do not require root privileges as misuse can cause catastrophic damage to the virtual machines if not done correctly.

Wrapping Up

This article answers the question, what is VMware ESXi? It is a powerful tool that allows you to control your infrastructure and maximize performance. Whether you use a single server setup or a cluster of servers, VMware ESXi enables the ability to harness the power of the hardware to its full potential.

Liquid Web offers unmanaged Dedicated Servers for advanced users looking to set up ESXi servers. However, not everyone is required to know what is VMware ESXi. For those seeking a managed environment, choose Liquid Web’s VMware Private Cloud, managed by the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. Contact our sales team today to discuss the best solution for your needs.

Avatar for Michael Flores Feliz

About the Author: Michael Flores Feliz

Michael Flores Feliz is a Linux Technician at Liquid Web and an up-and-coming DevOPs engineer. He is also a big car fanatic. His motto is long live Linux and Linux support.

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