Nowadays people who are new to VMware Virtualization Technology face so many problems when they start leaning VMware vSphere product and its components.
There is no doubt that VMware is one of the best if not the best of the best virtualization technology provider in the industry of virtualization.
If you need to implement VMware virtualization technology on your company, your home lab or certification purposes you really need to understand the components of VMware vSphere.
VMware vSphere components and their differences
VMware develops many suites of software products. They have solutions for cloud, datacenter, desktop products and more.
Most of the times when people hear about vSphere they look it as a software that you install and start virtualizing with it, but is very different and I assume that it happened to me in the beginning.
Think about VMware vSphere as Adobe Creative Cloud which has so many software solutions like Adobe Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects and so on.
So normally you don’t have look to Adobe Creative Cloud as a Software, instead, you must look to it as a Suite.
And this is the way you must look to VMware vSphere because it is just a suite.
The components of VMware vSphere are ESXi, vCenter and vSphere Client.
ESXi is the most important component of vSphere, it is a type 1 bare-metal hypervisor.
ESXi installs directly onto your physical server making it capable to host multiple logical servers referred to as Virtual Machines or Gest OS.
So, here comes the vCenter and vSphere Client.
After you install vSphere, clearly you need to install virtual machines and manage them.
vCenter is a centralized management application to manage ESXi hosts on one place while vSphere Client is used to access vCenter Server and finally manage VMware vSphere ESXi hosts.
It can be confusing to understand VMware vSphere components on the first time. Please read again if you didn’t get it on first time.
Breaking apart the confusing part
Let´s make things more confusing here.
You can use vSphere Client to manage ESXi hosts without the need of vCenter.
You may be thinking now, why I need the vCenter?
The vSphere Client is a free software with a web-based version, that you can use to install and manage virtual machines while on vCenter you need to buy a licence separately to have enterprise features like vMotion, VMware High Availability, VMware Update Manager and VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and so on.
You can easily clone and move existing virtual machines between ESXi Servers on vCenter.
So, when you really need a vCenter server?
It depends, as I said vCenter is for enterprise levels. There are some case which you can work just with ESXi and vSphere Client for free.
But, if you can afford, feel free to go and take advantage of these features.
Just to make things more clear about vSphere Client and vCenter, vSphere Client is a software commonly installed on client machines ‘’e.g. Administrator’s laptop’’ while vCenter is commonly installed on a virtual machine with Windows or Linux Server.
Later, I am going to make a step by step how you can install a vSphere.
VMware vSphere Scenario
Please check carefully the image bellow.
On the image above you gave a diagram with the vSphere Suite with all its components.
You can see that vSphere is the Suite.
The ESXi is the Hypervisor running on the physical machines.
vCenter server is installed on a physical machine but it can be on a virtual machine.
vSphere Client is installed on a client computer ‘’desktop or laptop’’ and is used to access vCenter.
One more time you can use vSphere Client to manage ESXi server and hosts but for small environments. In larger environments its used to access vCenter and manage ESXi servers and hosts with more flexibility.
You can find VMware vSphere products on this link.