Wil van Antwerpen of PlanetVM posted yesterday about the future of VMware Server, specifically its rumored demise. That isn’t surprising at all, at least to me.
I know a lot of people will miss VMware Server when it’s gone, but in my experience that’s mainly because they were using it as a free copy of Workstation. They aren’t using the web interfaces. They aren’t scripting anything. They aren’t buying support. What I’ve seen people do is buy a $4000 workstation-class PC, install VMware Server on Microsoft Windows, and use Remote Desktop to manage it. Lame? Yeah, I know.
The thing is, for what they’re doing with it they’d be better served with a copy of VMware Workstation, or a copy of free ESXi. Workstation is $189, and has a lot of the features that VMware Server does, if not more. It has headless operation, remote VNC consoles, better snapshot options including automatic snapshots (AutoProtect), etc. And if they are serious about virtualization, they should just be skipping directly to ESXi. It might be slightly more painful up front, and you might actually have to care a little more about the hardware you’re using, but it has a direct upgrade path to bigger and better things. VMware Server has no direct upgrade path to anything. ESXi performs better than the Type 2 hypervisors, so for the $500 extra you’ll spend on a machine with a HCL-compatible RAID setup you break even with the ability to virtualize more applications on the same hardware. Using ESXi is also good experience, as everything you learn about setting it up is directly applicable to the enterprise products as well. If I were an IT manager I’d want my staff learning to use the real thing, and not have to retrain or go through a lot of work to convert to the real thing later.
To me, using free ESXi instead of Server seems like a slam-dunk.
 Though not when you consider the pain people have been enduring getting Server to run on recent updates of host OSes, for instance.