The the adoption of the ESXi-Arm Fling has skyrocketed since its initial launch back in October and has already surpassed over 10K+ downloads in its first month of release!
Thank you to everyone in the community who’s participated, especially those who’ve shared their feedback & those doing some really stuff with it!
— William Lam (@lamw) November 18, 2020
One interesting observation that I have noticed lately has been an increased in inquiries related to licensing ESXi-Arm. This week alone, I have seen this question come up at least a dozen plus times across various communication channels.
Many of these inquiries have been coming from folks outside of the typical VMware Community and they are looking taking advantage of the ESXi-Arm Fling to develop and support the broader Arm eco-system. They have found new and interesting use cases such as this example shared by Vincent Milum Jr, who has been doing some really fantastic work with ESXi-Arm and contributing back to both the Arm community as well as the ESXi-Arm Fling project. Thanks Vincent!
Starting tomorrow, I'm rebuilding my analytics application on this cluster. Currently running on a 3b+, so huge upgrade! pic.twitter.com/Ymk81HRvbU
— Vincent Milum Jr (@DarkainMX) October 26, 2020
As a refresher, ESXi-Arm is released as a Technical Preview through the VMware Fling's program which enables our customers and partners to play with "Flings" which can represent early ideas, projects and even advanced prototypes like ESXi-Arm to help get early feedback. As a Fling, ESXi-Arm is NOT a product and should not be used for Production purposes. It can not be purchased nor receive any type of support from VMware's Global Support Services (GSS).
To ensure that customers have sufficient time to evaluate the ESXi-Arm Fling, the default evaluation period has been extended. For ESXi-x86, this is typically 60 days but for the ESXi-Arm Fling, the team has increased that to 180 days or 6 months, which is very generous in my personal opinion.
Upon the expiry of the evaluation, customers can re-install the ESXi-Arm Fling and that will give them another 180 days of evaluation. Virtual Machines which have already been provisioned can be preserved, so although the process of re-installing is not ideal, you will also not lose any of your workloads which is probably the most important thing for users.
Note: Upgrade of ESXi-Arm to newer versions are not supported, a re-installation must be performed
Having said all that, because the question of ESXi-Arm licensing has been coming up more and more, I wanted to share a few alternatives that could be viable for those wanting to go beyond the 180 days.
Option 1 -
If you have an ESXi-x86 7.0 license that is currently NOT in use, you can use it to license an ESXi-Arm host. I suspect most customers will not have "spare" licenses floating around but if you do or if you have an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA), which can include unlimited use, this could be an option.
Option 2 -
For just $200 USD year (cheaper with 3-year subscription), you can have both an ESXi license as well as a vSphere license to manage an ESXi-Arm host using vCenter Server for non-production usage with a VMUG Advantage subscription. This is one of the best community programs you can join and it includes additional licenses for many of the popular VMware solutions which are valid for 365 days. I know many folks use VMUG Advantage to license their Homelab and this is just another benefit to be able to apply this towards ESXi-Arm Fling.
Option 3 -
If you are looking for a completely free option and you do NOT require any Automation capabilities using the vSphere API which includes PowerCLI or managing an ESXi-Arm host(s) using vCenter Server, then you can sign up for the Free ESXi Hypervisor License.
When ESXi-Arm is still in evaluation period, all functionality is unlocked including the vSphere API and having the ability to be managed by vCenter Server. You should take advantage of that until the expiry is reached and then apply the ESXi Hypervisor License, once you apply it, then those capabilities will go away as shown in the screenshot below.
Here is another free option but it does take a little bit of setup, worth it if you ask me. You can build a Stateless ESXi-Arm setup which would mean that your ESXi-Arm host is not installed but rather booted up "fresh" each time. You can certainly customize your configuration, so although it is stateless, you can still get the behavior of a stateful installation. This is certainly ideal if you have external storage such as iSCSI or NFS which can be mounted as part of the boot up process.
Hopefully this gives you some good alternatives to simply re-installing ESXi-Arm if you wish to go beyond the default 180 days.