VMware vSphere

What is 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 is designed to enable IT departments to run application workloads on their most efficient or cost-effective compute resources.

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

vSphere Pros & Cons


  • Effective central management system for hosting multiple machines/servers through the virtualization of servers
  • Excellent vendor support because it offers a wide range of support channels, including a knowledge base, community forum, FAQ articles, support tickets, and a phone number that is available 24/7


  • High licensing cost (ranges from $995 to $24,250)
  • A steep learning curve as mentioned by customers on G2

What is a VMware vSphere Client?

A VMware vSphere Client is a cross-platform application that allows its users to access the vSphere server through a web browser. This helps those who do not have direct access to the vSphere Client. Typical users of a VMware vSphere Client include virtual infrastructure administrators, help desk workers, network operations center operators, and VM owners.

VMware vSphere lets its users perform basic operations that provide basic visibility and control over the VM. This includes virtual machine tasks like:

  • Power on/off
  • Shutdown the guest OS
  • Launch console
  • Edit settings
  • Take snapshot

In this case, these are all basic operations that give the user basic visibility and control over the VM.

What is VMware vSphere Hypervisor?

A VMware vSphere Hypervisor is a virtualized server that manages an IT infrastructure and allows one to run one or more virtual machines on a computer. It offers built-in VM management, advanced memory resourcing, efficient storage allocation, and driver hardening.

VMware vSphere Pricing

With the launch of VMware vSphere 5.0, the company introduced a vRAM pricing model that frustrated many existing customers, leading VMware to eventually scrap 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.

VMware vSphere Features

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 VMs through the hypervisor
  • VMware Virtual Machine File System (VMFS), a high-performance cluster file management system


Although they are somewhat similar virtualization technologies, vSphere and Workstation are distinct software products from VMware.

VMware vSphere VMware Workstation
A suite of tools that help create a robust virtualized server in the context of a virtual data center 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 Stroud
Forrest is a writer for Webopedia. Experienced, entrepreneurial, and well-rounded, he has 15+ years covering technology, business software, website design, programming, and more.
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