Broadcom discontinues free version of VMWare ESXi hypervisor

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Broadcom’s recent decision to discontinue the free version of VMware’s ESXi hypervisor marks a significant shift in the company’s strategy towards VMware products post-acquisition. This move away from offering a no-cost version of ESXi, a tool cherished by hobbyists, testers, and IT professionals for its ability to lead to production deployments and skill enhancement, raises questions about future accessibility and the broader impact on VMware’s ecosystem.

Broadcom has officially ended the general availability of the free ESXi hypervisor, aligning with its termination of perpetual licensing. This version was limited in core usage, memory addressing, and lacked advanced management features, making it ideal for non-commercial uses that often led to commercial adoption.

Despite the end of the free version, VMware users can still access the hypervisor through VMWare User Group “advantage” licensing and trialware versions, suggesting that the impact of this change may be less significant than perceived, especially for those already embedded within the VMware ecosystem.

Industry analysts and commentators suggest that Broadcom’s decision could drive potential new users towards alternative platforms. The free version of ESXi played a crucial role in familiarizing new IT professionals with VMware, a pipeline that might now shift towards competitors or open-source options like Nutanix’s Community Edition, Proxmox, and others.

Broadcom’s strategy appears to focus on more lucrative or committed customers, possibly at the expense of smaller users or hobbyists. This shift could have long-term implications for VMware’s adoption and market position, as new entrants to the IT field may start their careers on different platforms, potentially altering the competitive landscape.

Sources include: The Register

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