There’s rumor on the streets that the VMware Server product is being discontinued. Unfortunately, there’s good reason for that rumor.
Another uncomfortable sign is that there haven’t been any updates in almost 7 months as you can see on the download page where the last version is from 2009/10/26
Haven’t there been problem’s then? Well yes, there are serious glibc compatibility issues with recent versions of the supported OS RHEL and it doesn’t look like that will be fixed as it is known since RHEL 5.4 and we are now on version RHEL 5.5 . Another issue is security patch VMSA-2009-0016 from 2009-11-20, which has been updated for other products after that date, still has VMware Server listed as ”patch pending
” for every problem it affects. Security advisory VMSA-2010-0005 even has ”not being fixed at this time *
“ which then refers to a manual work around that can be applied to address the problem.
So does the security department of VMware make the product direction statements these days? What is going on?
It does indeed look very much that the product has been abandoned by VMware. VMware Server being a free product that doesn’t directly generate income is a reasonably valid excuse to provide less support. But what about the customers who bought support for VMware Server, the product might be free, but you can buy support for it…..
Telling users to use VMware Player or ESXi instead might be sufficient for some users, but I think that for most VMware Server users it is not going to be an adequate solution. VMware Server as a hypervisor type 2 product offers a number of extra features that are basically a mix of the features that ESXi and VMware Player offer. Using either product you will loose.
Here’s a list of features that are mutually exclusive.
1. You can run your VM’s headless, without having to log in and you can autostart selected VM’s on boot
2. You can remotely manage your VM’s from a web interface (fat ESX)
3. You can remotely manage your host and VM’s via the VI SDK (perl/powershell/vimsh) and Virtual Infrastructure Client
VMware Player only:
1. You can continue to use your host, so you do not need an extra workstation as you would for ESXi.
2. Access to local hardware devices that are not supported by the virtualisation layer, or don’t provide the same level of functionality. Examples are that tape drive you want to use. Specific hardware devices that are not exposed to the guest like a TV-Card, unsupported SATA/RAID cards, USB devices wth USB Passthrough, Sound. Directly access your graphics card for multi-monitor/video support.
3. You can use the host’s features for local storage file sharing using NFS or Samba. Without having to add an extra virtualisation layer.
4. You can use software RAID (linux) and fake RAID (windows/linux) as it is supported by the host OS.
5. You can use the raw performance of the host’s disk subsystem, for example for that product that needs to be compiled from source.
With VMware Server you have all of those features (I’m sure I missed some) at the same time. Giving up on those isn’t always the best answer.
As it is now, I’m starting to have a problem advising people to use VMware Server as it appears to be abandoned by VMware. Without a good and viable alternative being available, it does mean driving those people to the competing type 2 hypervisors like KVM and virtualBox.
I think that VMware have forgotten that when people start using other products, it gets harder to make that new sale for a vSphere server when the client needs to scale out as now their VM’s are in another format.
Also with VMware Server having the complete vSphere automation support it is a good buddy for vSphere and as soon as you want the VM’s to move it is fairly easy to get your VMs moved either by hand or by using VMware Converter.
I for one would very much miss VMware Server if it is being discontinued.
Update: There’s an interesting thread about this over at VMTN