People who are new to VMware’s virtualization platform often get confused in getting to know about vSphere and its components.
So folks let us breifly discuss the Difference between vSphere, ESXi and vCenter.
vSphere is a software suite that comes under vmware’s data center product. vSphere is like Microsoft Office suite which has many software like MS Office, MS Excel, MS Access and so on.
Like Microsoft Office, vSphere is also a software suite that has many software components like vCenter, ESXi, vSphere client and so on.
So, the combination of all these software components is vSphere. vSphere is not a particular software that you can install and use, “it is just a package name which has other sub components”.

ESXi, vSphere client and vCenter are components of vSphere. ESXi server is the most important part of vSphere. ESXi is the virtualization server.
It is type 1 hypervisor. All the virtual machines or Guest OS are installed on ESXi server. To install, manage and access those virtual servers which sit above of ESXi server,
you will need other part of vSphere suit called vSphere client or vCenter. Now, vSphere client allows administrators to connect to ESXi servers and access or manage virtual machines.
vSphere client is installed on the client machine (e.g. Administrator’s laptop). The vSphere client is used from client machine to connect to ESXi server and do management tasks.
So now what is vCenter? Why we need it? Try cloning existing virtual machine using just a vSphere client without vCenter server.
vCenter server is similar to vSphere client but it’s a server with more power. vCenter server is installed on Windows Server or Linux Server.
VMware vCenter server is a centralized management application that lets you manage virtual machines and ESXi hosts centrally.
vSphere client is used to access vCenter Server and ultimately manage ESXi servers. vCenter server is compulsory for enterprises to have enterprise features like vMotion,
VMware High Availability, VMware Update Manager and VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). For example, you can easily clone existing virtual machine in vCenter server.
So vCenter is another important part of vSphere package. You have to buy vCenter license separately.

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