Is VMware completely free?

VMware is a leading provider of virtualization software and cloud computing services. Some of VMware’s products like VMware Workstation Player and vSphere Hypervisor are available for free for personal and non-commercial use. However, VMware’s core virtualization platforms and cloud services are paid offerings aimed at enterprise and business users.

Is VMware completely free?

Free offerings from VMware

Here are some of the popular VMware products that have free versions:

  • VMware Workstation Player: This is the free version of VMware’s desktop virtualization software. It allows users to run multiple operating systems as virtual machines on a single PC. The free player has limited features compared to the paid VMware Workstation Pro.
  • vSphere Hypervisor: This is VMware’s free bare-metal hypervisor that allows users to create virtual machines on x86-based servers. It has basic features for server virtualization and is intended for small environments.
  • VMware Hands-on Labs: VMware offers free access to hands-on labs for some of its products like VMware Cloud, VMware Tanzu and VMware NSX. Users can test-drive and experiment with VMware products through guided labs.

Paid products and services from VMware

Here are some of the popular paid offerings from VMware targeted at businesses:

VMware vSphere: vSphere is VMware’s flagship virtualization platform that allows businesses to establish their private cloud infrastructure. vSphere bundles together paid products like vCenter Server, ESXi hypervisor, vMotion, High Availability and more.

VMware Cloud: This is VMware’s public cloud infrastructure platform offered through partners like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud. It allows businesses to extend their VMware workloads natively to the cloud.

VMware Tanzu: This is VMware’s portfolio of products and services for building, running and managing Kubernetes container environments across cloud infrastructure.

VMware Carbon Black: Carbon Black is VMware’s endpoint and workload security platform for securing critical business applications and data.

So in summary, while VMware offers limited free versions of some software, its full-featured virtualization, cloud management and security platforms are paid products aimed at enterprise use.

Advantages of paid VMware platforms over free versions

Here are some benefits businesses can get with paid VMware platforms compared to the free offerings:

  • Advanced features: Paid vSphere editions unlock advanced features like distributed resource scheduling (DRS), high availability, fault tolerance, storage vMotion, network vMotion, etc.
  • Centralized management: vCenter Server enables centralized management, monitoring and automation of VMware environments.
  • Support and updates: Access to VMware technical support and latest software updates.
  • Scalability: Paid vSphere editions scale much larger in terms of physical servers, virtual machines, computing capacity, storage and networking.
  • Add-on options: Access to various add-ons like VMware Site Recovery Manager for disaster recovery, vRealize suite for cloud management and NSX for network virtualization.
  • Hybrid/multi-cloud capabilities: Seamless workload migration across on-prem and public cloud environments.

So for medium to large-scale production environments, VMware’s paid solutions provide significant enhancements over the free editions.

VMware free products – Use cases and limitations

Here are the common use cases and limitations of VMware’s free offerings:

VMware Workstation Player

Use Cases

  • Running multiple Operating Systems on a single PC
  • Testing applications in different OS environments
  • Training and demonstrations

Limitations

  • For non-commercial use only
  • No advanced networking and security features
  • No snapshots or cloning
  • Limited to 16 vCPUs per VM

vSphere Hypervisor

Use Cases

  • Small server virtualization deployments
  • Virtualize application workloads
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

Limitations

  • Only basic vSphere features
  • No centralized management and automation
  • Limited scaling (up to 8 physical CPUs on host)

Getting started with VMware free products

If you want to start exploring VMware’s free offerings, refer the following quick start guides:

VMware Workstation Player

  • Download VMware Workstation Player for Windows or Linux: https://www.vmware.com/products/workstation-player/workstation-player-evaluation.html
  • Install and set up Player on your machine
  • Download pre-built virtual appliance images
  • Import appliances in Player to test drive software stacks

vSphere Hypervisor

  • Download ESXi hypervisor installer image: https://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere-hypervisor.html
  • Install ESXi on a physical server to create VMware host
  • Use VMware Host Client to manage the ESXi host
  • Create and deploy virtual machines on the host
  • Manage VMs using Host Client or any web browser

Refer the product documentation for more detailed installation and usage instructions.

Key Takeaways

  • VMware offers free editions of some products like Workstation Player and ESXi hypervisor
  • Full-featured virtualization platforms and cloud infrastructure solutions are paid offerings
  • Free versions have limited features and primarily meant for personal learning/testing
  • Paid VMware platforms unlock advanced capabilities, management, support and enterprise scalability
  • Workstation Player allows running multiple OS virtually on desktop/laptop
  • ESXi hypervisor provides basic server virtualization capabilities for small environments

Conclusion

In summary, VMware provides free downloads for products like VMware Workstation Player and vSphere Hypervisor to enable users to learn and test VMware virtualization technology on personal desktops or small server environments.

However, VMware’s full range of enterprise-grade virtualization, cloud management and security platforms capabilities come through paid offerings like vSphere, vRealize Suite Cloud Management and NSX platforms. These provide businesses the advanced features, centralized management, technical support, scalability and reliability required for production environments.

So while VMware has useful free products, its core portfolio are paid offerings delivering comprehensive enterprise virtualization solutions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Does VMware provide a completely free virtualization solution?
A1: No, VMware does not offer a comprehensive enterprise-grade virtualization platform or cloud solution for free. Limited versions like VMware Workstation Player and vSphere Hypervisor are available for free for personal non-commercial use.

Q2: What are the best free VMware products I can use?
A2: VMware Workstation Player and vSphere Hypervisor are the two best free products for personal learning/testing of virtual machines. Workstation player allows virtualizing desktops while vSphere Hypervisor provides free server virtualization features.

Q3: Is VMware vSphere free?
A3: No, the full vSphere platform capabilities come through paid editions only like vSphere Standard, vSphere Enterprise Plus. A limited free hypervisor ESXi is offered by VMware.

Q4: Does VMware provide cloud infrastructure for free?
A4: No, VMware does not provide access to its enterprise-grade VMware Cloud Infrastructure for free. However, users can do initial test drives of VMware cloud infrastructure through VMware Hands-On-Labs.

Q5: Is VMware Tanzu a paid or free platform?
A5: VMware Tanzu is a paid commercial platform for containerized application development and Kubernetes management across multi-cloud infrastructure. Free developer-focused distributions of Tanzu application platform are offered.

Q6: Can I get free trial licenses for VMware products?
A6: Yes, VMware offers 60 or 90 day trial licenses for most of its paid products which users can use to set up a proof-of-concept (POC) or evaluate the products before purchasing.

Q7: Will the free ESXi hypervisor allow live migration of VMs?
A7: No, the free ESXi does not bundle VMware vMotion capability required for live migration of virtual machines across hosts. This requires paid vSphere editions.

Q8: Is VMware Workstation pro available for free?
A8: No, VMware does not offer the Workstation Pro product for free. Users need to purchase license to use Pro edition which comes with more features compared to the free player.

Q9: Can I cluster free ESXi hypervisors together?
A9: The free ESXi license does not permit the hypervisor to participate in centralized clustering and management through vCenter Server.

Q10: What source can I use to download VMware software trials?
A10: Users can visit VMware’s evaluation center to download trial versions and keys – https://www.vmware.com/try-vmware.html

Q11: Does VMware offer any online training for free?
A11: Yes, VMware provides free training modules, videos and demos for some of its products via VMware Learning Zone portal and YouTube channel.

Q12: Can I get free 24/7 support services with VMware trials?
A12: No, VMware does not offer 24×7 free technical support services for trial licenses. Only paid licenses get comprehensive software updates & technical support as part of subscription.

Q13: Will VMware Workstation player allow me to run Linux VMs?
A13: Yes, VMware Workstation player supports running diverse operating systems including Linux distributions like Ubuntu, RHEL, CentOS, SLES as virtual machines.

Q14: Does VMware offer free monitoring and backup tools?
A14: No, VMware does not provide enterprise-grade monitoring, backup and recovery tools for free. These require addons like vRealize Operations and vSphere Data Protection licenses.

Q15: How long can I use the free VMware Workstation player?
A15: There is no time limit on how long VMware Workstation player can be used. The only condition is that it should be used for personal non-commercial use.

Q16: Is VMware Fusion available as a free product?
A16: No, Fusion is VMware’s virtualization product exclusively for Mac systems and is a paid offering only. There is no free Fusion player.

Q17: What server hardware or desktop specs are ideal to use the free products?
A17: For Workstation player ideally require a multi-core x86 system with at least 8GB RAM. vSphere Hypervisor can be installed on a server with dual socket multicore processors & >32GB RAM.

Q18: What features are included in the free vSphere Hypervisor?
A18: It includes only basic features like distributed resource scheduler (DRS), high availability (HA), fault tolerance. Missing advanced capabilities like storage vMotion or network vMotion requiring paid vSphere.

Q19: Does VMware provide free learning sandboxes?
A19: Yes, for some products like VMware Cloud, Tanzu and NSX-T, users get access to free sandbox environments via VMware Hands-on Labs to learn and experiment.

Q20: Where can I find documentation on VMware’s free products?
A20: Refer the product documentation sites for Workstation Player (https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Workstation-Player/index.html) and vSphere Hypervisor (https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-70-installation-setup-guide.pdf)

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