Tests in The Hypervisor lab show that although VMware ESXi is extremely quick and easy to deploy, it currently lacks support by several leading third-party tools.
ESXi is the embedded version of VMware’s industry leading ESX Server hypervisor. ESXi is often stored on a Flash memory module fitted in the server chassis. This enables vendors such as Dell and HP to preload a VMware hypervisor, making it extremely quick and easy for small firms without VMware specialists to deploy VMware virtualisation.
Both ESX Server and ESXi are based on Linux kernel “service console” operating systems. However, in ESXi VMware disables any meaningful access to this Linux environment and does not support ESXi configurations that have been modified to allow such access. Unfortunately many third party applications require access to the service console operating system to function.
For example, Vizioncore vRanger Pro is the leading third party backup suite designed specifically to backup virtual machines running in VMware virtual datacenters.
vRanger Pro supports a variety of features, such as making full and differential backups of running VMs without any downtime. However, vRanger Pro can make backups of ESXi hosted VMs only if used alongside VMware’s Consolidated Backup (VCB) suite. While VCB is a good option for large VMware deployments, many smaller firms shy away from VCB, and VCB is not included in the free version of ESXi.
Similarly, the recently released Vizioncore vOptimizer Pro suite cannot work with VMs running on ESXi because it requires a VMware console operating system.
Some other vendors, such as Veeam, support all versions ESXi in their products. Vizioncore said it will launch versions of its tools that will work with ESXi, but could not tell us when these versions would be available.
Meanwhile, system administrators should think carefully about how they will make backups and run other utilities to manage their VMs before deploying ESXi.