VMware vSphere

vSphere is a server virtualization software application from VMware. It debuted in 2009 as the successor to the company’s flagship VMware Infrastructure solution and serves as a complete platform for implementing and managing virtual machine (VM) infrastructure on a large scale. Sometimes 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 resources available.

With the launch 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 in favor of a per-CPU socket model that took effect with VMware vSphere 5.1. Starting in early 2014, vSphere was also bundled as part of VMware vCloud Suite.

vSphere includes the following components:

  • VMware ESX/ESXi, a type 1 hypervisor that functions as the virtualization server
  • VMware vCenter Server, the centralized management utility
  • VMware vSphere Client, which installs and manages virtual machines through the hypervisor
  • VMware Virtual Machine File System (VMFS), a high-performance cluster file management system

Prominent VMware vSphere competitors include Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle VM, Citrix Hypervisor, and Red Hat Virtualization.

VMware vSphere vs. VMware Workstation

Although they are somewhat similar virtualization technologies, vSphere and Workstation are distinct software products from VMware. Fundamentally, VMware vSphere is a suite of tools that help create a robust virtualized server in the context of a virtual data center. On the other hand, VMware Workstation is a hypervisor (akin to ESXi) that runs on a much smaller scale. Workstation (or Fusion for macOS) runs on a single PC to run multiple small virtual machines with independent operating systems, so it’s intended for individual users rather than large enterprises.


Forrest Stroud
Forrest is an experienced, entrepreneurial and well-rounded professional with 15+ years covering technology, business software, website design, programming and more.

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