What is VMware vSphere?

Posted on by Marho Atumu | Updated:
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Virtualization is the go-to solution for organizations looking to maximize the performance of their available resources without increasing the associated costs. The ability to create and run one or more virtual instances of software applications or hardware-like servers and networking devices increases IT departments’ flexibility and ability to scale infrastructure based on business needs.

Types of Virtualization

There are three distinct types of virtualization: server virtualization, network virtualization, and desktop virtualization.

Server Virtualization

Server virtualization is the process of creating multiple unique instances of a server on one physical machine. You essentially divide that host machine into several isolated virtual servers.

This form of virtualization overcomes the restriction of servers running a single workload. With server virtualization, you can configure each virtual server’s hardware specifications and operating systems to perform different workloads, improving efficiency while saving costs.

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization is divided into internal and external classes. Internal network virtualization allows for the recreation of physical network infrastructure in a virtual environment, enabling communication between virtual and host machines.

External network virtualization involves combining two or more physically connected networks into one virtual networking unit. Both types of network virtualization improve centralizing your infrastructure and flexibly allocate resources according to workload demands.

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization simulates a workstation environment that end users can access without having the hardware to run that environment in front of them. IT departments can use it to grant remote users access to their work desktops, complete with their office applications and documents.

A virtualization server hosts the virtual desktop environment, and all the user needs to access it is a display, keyboard, mouse, and a network connection.

What is VMware vSphere?

VMware is one of the key players in the information technology sector, with decades of experience providing virtualization solutions to practitioners in the industry. vSphere is just one of these VMware virtual solutions, and it is an advanced server virtualization application that grants users a centralized management platform for their virtual machines (VMs).

vSphere was initially known as VMware Infrastructure when it was marketed as a suite of virtualization products in the early 2000s. Since then, it has gone through several iterations and a name change, culminating in its most recent version, vSphere 7.0. For this latest iteration, vSphere has two core components: ESXi and vCenter Server.

ESXi is the core virtualization component of vSphere, and it is a Type 1 hypervisor. Hypervisors are emulation software designed to run virtual machines. A Type 1 hypervisor can run directly on a host machine’s hardware, whereas Type 2 runs on an operating system. The ESXi component, installed on a host machine, is responsible for running virtual machines.

The vCenter Server component handles the management duties in vSphere. vCenter Server provides a centralized platform for managing the host and virtual machines in the vSphere environment. You can think of it as a management portal for ESXi, allowing you to allocate resources, create and migrate virtual machines, and more.

There are two main versions of vSphere:

  • The VMware vSphere Standard is perfect for small businesses looking to get started with centralized VM management.
  • The vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition has features for migrating existing data centers into cloud computing environments.

VMware vSphere Features

There are several features vSphere 7.0 offers as a virtualization management platform that makes it a compelling option for IT departments looking to deploy virtualized data centers, private cloud solutions, or hybrid cloud solutions for their organizations:

Support for Kubernetes Containers

New with vSphere 7.0 is support for containerized applications using the open source Kubernetes system. vSphere enables this functionality with VMware Tanzu, which allows developers to build modern applications without infrastructure limitations. In addition, with vSphere, IT administrators can deploy Kubernetes workloads from vCenter Server directly on ESXi host machines.

Improved Resource Management with Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)

Distributed resource scheduler (DRS) is a feature of vSphere used for grouping ESXi host machines and their related virtual machines into resource clusters for easier management of workloads and maintenance. With DRS enabled, vSphere can monitor VM and container activity and recommend re-allocating available resources for improved performance.

Centralized Lifecycle Management

With vCenter Server, you can manage the entire lifecycle of all your ESXi hosts from installation to decommissioning. Older versions of vSphere used an update manager for some of this functionality, but version 7.0 has a dedicated Lifecycle Manager that controls updates and upgrades for host machines and VM clusters.

Enhanced Security

vSphere has several features that enhance the security of your virtual environment. These security features include settings for managing user permissions and privileges, VM encryption, vSphere Trust Authority for managing trust across your entire virtual environment, and support for multiple enterprise identity providers. vSphere also supports host machine security features such as UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and smart card authentication.

Business Continuity

vSphere’s vCenter High Availability (HA) and Fault Tolerance (FT) features are specifically designed to integrate your organization’s business continuity plans. Together, they ensure minimal downtime and data loss in your virtual environment by providing failover protection against outages and live VM mirroring.

How to Use VMware vSphere

Here are five scenarios you can deploy using VMware vSphere. These scenarios all require scalable IT infrastructure.

Remote & Branch Office Management

With vSphere, you can deploy and manage VMs from one central location to all your branch offices and other remote areas. In addition to rapid scalability and effective resource management, other advantages of this model are the ability to streamline host server configurations and minimize costs by eliminating the need for local IT teams at all your branch offices.

Data Center Backup & Disaster Recovery

Suppose your organization already has a physical data center as the backbone of its infrastructure. vSphere can be used to simplify your disaster recovery strategies by creating a virtual secondary data center that replicates your main site. With this strategy, you can achieve redundancy and system failover at a fraction of the cost of physically building a secondary data center.

DevOps & Application Development

DevOps aims to improve the efficiency of the software development process. In most cases, this involves maximizing available physical resources to provide development and test environments for software engineers. This resource optimization is something that vSphere is ideally suited for. It allows for spinning up VMs and containers on demand for specific app development workloads and scaling them according to evolving system requirements.

Private Cloud Infrastructure

If your organization isn’t ready to transition to a public cloud service provider, you can still reap the benefits of cloud computing by setting up a private cloud. You benefit from the scalability and improved service delivery that cloud computing offers, with increased access controls and security measures tailored to meet your organization’s needs. Using virtualization as the foundation for this private cloud only enhances the cloud computing benefits while simplifying management. Plus, you save a ton of money on physical infrastructure costs and IT staff.

High Performance Computing

High Performance Computing (HPC) involves aggregating computing power to perform complex calculations. All this processing power is usually applied to solve big data, artificial intelligence, engineering, science, and medicine problems.

HPC is a relatively new area of application for virtualized infrastructure. vSphere offers the usual advantages of efficient use of existing hardware, scalability, and reduced costs compared to traditional physical infrastructure.


Are you stuck on where to get started with migrating your infrastructure to a virtual environment? Check out our Private Cloud offerings to see how you can optimize your systems and save money.

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About the Author: Marho Atumu

Marho is a Community Support agent at The Events Calendar and enjoys helping people discover how information technology can provide great solutions to their everyday problems. His career in IT can clearly be traced to his love for all things science fiction.

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