VMWare ESX vs. Virtual Center

1157695 pts.
SAN switches
Virtual Center
VMware ESX
VMware infrastructure
Looking at the VMware Infrastructure package. I've already got the SAN + switches, so it'd be a matter of buying server hardware and software licenses. The SAN I'm using is currently limited to 16 hosts. One of which is a physical server already up and running on it. Another would be the physical VMware box. That would leave 14 connections for virtual machines. I'll subtract another one out for the redundant physical box. That leaves 13 machines I could put on the SAN. Note: I've got a MD3000i SAN that is currently limited to 16 hosts, regardless of whether or not they are physical or virtual. That is all fine and planned for. However could I setup more virtual machines that are hosted on the physical servers internal hard drives? I would loose VMmotion ability and all of that because they aren't on the SAN, but for these boxes that isn't an issue (test boxes). Or is it a case of all or nothing (either all on the SAN or none)? Also, when talking about 2 physical boxes and less than 20 virtual machines.....is Virtual Center worth the extra cost? What exactly does Virtual Center provide beyond management tools that scale much better than the default tools that ship with ESX? Submitted by a User

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Virtual machines cannot access your SAN directly and access the SAN storage via the host servers SAN connection. So you can have as many virtual machines as you want accessing your SAN storage through your ESX host. You can mix virtual machines on local and SAN storage on a ESX host. So in your case you would only be using 2 SAN ports on your switch, one for each ESX host. If you wanted to multi-path for redundancy then you could add a second FC card in each host. With local storage only the specific host server can access the virtual machine and you cannot use features that required SAN storage like vMotion, DRS and HA. You can also move VM’s back and forth from local storage to shared storage by performing a cold migration or using the new Storage VMotion feature. With ESX you can setup many datastores to different types of storage devices like NFS, FC, Local Storage and iSCSI.

Is VirtualCenter worth the extra cost? It depends if you want to use features that require it like HA, DRS and VMotion. Even with 2 hosts some of the extra features (templates, AD integration, Update Manager, cloning, historical performance monitoring, capacity planner, integrated P2V) are worth it. VMware has some SMB Foundation Pack bundles available for 2 ESX hosts with VirtualCenter bundled at a reduced cost that you might check out

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