A server virtualization platform from VMware. VMware vSphere debuted in 2009 as the successor to the company's flagship VMware Infrastructure solution, and it serves as a complete platform for implementing and managing virtual machine (VM) infrastructure on a large scale.
Also referred to as a cloud operating system or virtualized data center platform, VMware vSphere enables IT departments to efficiently place application workloads on the most cost-effective compute resource available.
VMware vSphere includes the VMware ESX / ESXi hypervisor, a type 1 hypervisor that functions as the virtualization server; the VMware vCenter Server, which manages vSphere environments; the VMware vSphere Client, which is used to install and manage virtual machines through the hypervisor; and VMware VMFS, the file system component from VMware.
VMware vSphere competes in the server virtualization market amongst products like Microsoft Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) and open-source alternatives like the Xen hypervisor.
Recent Changes in VMware vSphere 5 and Beyond
With the debut of VMware vSphere 5.0, the company introduced a vRAM pricing model that frustrated many existing customers, leading VMware to eventually scrape the RAM-based pricing model for a per-CPU socket model that debuted with VMware vSphere 5.1.
The latest version of vSphere, 5.5 Update 1, was released in early 2014. VMware vSphere can also now be purchased as part of the company's new VMware vCloud Suite.