Complete VMware vSphere Guide for 2023

Susan Asher | Monday, December 19, 2022

Complete VMware vSphere Guide for 2023

VMware is the world’s preeminent virtualization platform. Its product, vSphere, is a suite of software solutions that facilitate the easy creation and administration of virtual machines. By the end of this guide, you will have a thorough understanding of what vSphere is, what its core components are, and why it’s used. This guide was written to be accessible to readers completely new to the concept of virtualization. 

If this article interests you and you are looking to expand your skill set, ExitCertified offers VMware training with vSphere 8 (the latest iteration). This vendor-approved course will help you accelerate and future proof your career.

But before we begin, let us quickly cover what virtualization is. 

What is virtualization? 

Virtualization is the act of creating a virtual version, rather than a physical version of something. A physical version is something you can touch, but you can’t touch a virtual version. Virtualization uses software to create a virtual version of something.  The term virtualization is typically used to describe the act of creating virtual machines (VMs), or virtual computers. Those virtual machines reside on a virtual machine server (VM server). But don’t let the name VM server fool you, as these are not virtual servers. They are physical servers purpose-built to host virtual machines.  

The VMs reside on the VM server, and a system administrator allocates a portion of the server’s operating system—storage, memory, and processing power—to each VM. All the VMs are separated from one another, with no communication between one VM and another.

But how can you run multiple computers on a single host? How do you manage all those computers? How do you make sure that one computer can’t access another if they are sharing the same hardware? These are the questions that vSphere answers. 

What is vSphere? 

Previously called “VMware Infrastructure” vSphere is a suite of virtualization products offered by VMware that assist IT professionals with the creation and administration of virtual machines. vSphere has two primary components. One of them is a hypervisor called ESXi and the other is called vCenter Server, which is used to manage ESXi hypervisors. 

We will get into the details of these two components in a moment. 

The most widely used version of vSphere is vSphere 7. It added new features like support for Kubernetes and improved clustering. A full list of vSphere 7 updates can be found here. But note that vSphere 8 is now available as well, and it includes great improvements while preserving much of the vSphere 7 experience. Key new features include enhanced recovery of vCenter, and the new vSphere DataSets, which allows you to share data between your vSphere system and a guest system.     

What is ESXi?

As we mentioned, ESXi is a type of product known as a “hypervisor.” A hypervisor is software that allows you to tap into the pool of resources provided by the host computer and distribute it to the guest computers. It also allows you to monitor and make changes to your virtual machines, and that’s why it is sometimes referred to as “virtual machine monitors.” 

ESXi is a type-1 hypervisor, sometimes called a “bare-metal” hypervisor. This means that it runs in place of the host computer’s operating system. This has several advantages including increased performance and security. 

Previously, VMware had a similar solution called the ESX, which was simply the predecessor to ESXi. VMware does not support ESX anymore. 

Who should use ESXi? 

One of the major appeals of the VMware hypervisor solution is that it can be used by anyone. Whether you are an enterprise trying to run hundreds of separate virtual machines or a hobbyist creating a home lab, ESXi can be the solution for you. 

It has become a favorite among hobbyists and beginners because it provides a way of administering virtual machines outside of the command line, which makes it much less intimidating. We will get into the details of the ESXi interface a little bit later. 

What are the key features of ESXi? 

There are tons of great features for ESXi, which is why it’s so dominant in the industry. Let’s quickly outline a few key features. 

  • It is small and lightweight. At just 150 MB it is quite literally the world’s smallest hypervisor. 
  • All the data that exists on virtual machines administered by ESXi are encrypted 
  • It is easy to scale. A single ESXi hypervisor can run up to 128 virtual machines.
  • A global leader, VMware provides outstanding customer service.

The fact that ESXi is lightweight also means you can run it on a simple home computer or even a laptop. Check out the requirements on VMware’s website.

What is vCenter Server?

vCenter Server is an application that allows you to manage virtual machines and ESXi hypervisors in one easy location. Just like vSphere itself, vCenter Server is made up of several different components. One of those components is the graphical user interface, so let’s start there. 

vSphere Web Client

The vSphere Web Client is used to login and access vCenter. 

The vSphere Web Client has been through many iterations, each one better than the last. The current version—unlike previous versions—is a web-based HTML5 client. The reason for this change is to facilitate the administration of your hypervisors remotely, provided that you have an internet connection and permission to access the system.

vSphere Server Database

Perhaps the easiest component of the vSphere suite to understand is the vSphere Server Database, which is used by vSphere to store information about your system. This includes things like performance, event logs, and information about your clusters. vSphere Server Database is bundled with PostgreSQL. 

vSphere Single Sign-on 

Keeping with the trend of being easy to understand, vSphere Single Sign-On      lets users access everything in your vSphere ecosystem while only needing to log in once. 

Virtual Machine File System 

This feature, known as VMFS, is a cluster file system, which provides storage that is tailored specifically to virtual machines. VMFS acts as the default file system for your virtual machines and greatly reduces the complexity of provisioning. 

When you create a new virtual machine, you are also creating a new VMFS for that instance. This feature of vSphere is what allows multiple computers to work off of the same hardware without interacting with each other or overwriting each other’s data. 

It’s time to start virtualizing 

We’ve now covered the complete vSphere suite. You should have a thorough understanding of what VMware has to offer with this platform, and hopefully, you are excited to start playing with this world-leading software. 

If you would like further guidance on administering, installing, and using vSphere, ExitCertified has best-in-class courses for vSphere 7 and a new course on vSphere 8. This certification provides you with skills highly sought in the industry and is a great way to open new opportunities. 

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