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Building an empire around the free VMware hypervisor

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Extra features lure allegiance away from free virtualization

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Are the free VMware hypervisor and supporting tools worth the limitations? If you want advanced virtualization features, you can buy the vSphere Essentials Plus Kit -- a low-cost option -- to unlock vMotion, HA, and centralized management with vCenter. With vCenter and the ability to exploit VADP, you can still keep costs down by choosing from numerous free tools at their full functionality, such as Veeam Backup or free VMturbo Community Edition and others.

Still, low-cost virtualization isn't free virtualization, and the money isn't always available. Perhaps a remote location needs to virtualize some servers and company executives won't authorize any expenditures to do it. The free vSphere Hypervisor is a powerful Type-1 hypervisor with strong memory management techniques and easy deployment.

If you compare vSphere Hypervisor to the vSphere Essentials kit, you could save $560. Consider that the Essentials kit just supports up to three servers and two sockets for each kit. If you compare the free hypervisor to vSphere Enterprise Plus at $3495 per socket and vCenter Server Standard at $4995, you could save more than $25,965 just on the initial software purchase. This calculation doesn't include the yearly service and support subscription.

While the small investment in vSphere Essentials is likely to pay off for many small or medium-sized businesses, building a completely free vSphere infrastructure is possible. And you can start with free and plan to invest more once virtualization is established, to take advantage of full backup functionality and numerous additional features.

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