What is VMware ESXi?
VMware ESXi (formerly ESX until version 4.1 in 2010) is a type 1 hypervisor. It is part of VMware's vSphere product suite, helping IT teams to more efficiently use their available hardware resources. In vSphere, all virtual machines are installed on ESXi servers. ESXi itself runs directly on the host server hardware and abstracts the CPU, storage, memory, and networking resources of the physical host into multiple virtual machines. This way any applications running on your virtual machines can access these resources without needing direct access to the underlying hardware.
VMware ESXi Lifecycle Policy
All products in vSphere, including ESXi, fall under VMware's Enterprise Infrastructure Support Lifecycle Policy (EIP). VMware offers 7 years of support for every new major release, starting from the general availability date. These 7 years are split into 5 years of General Support and 2 years of Technical Guidance.
During the General Support phase, VMware offers maintenance updates and upgrades, bug and security fixes, and technical support to customers who have purchased VMware support. Every major release will receive at least 3 update releases. These updates contain bug fixes, new entablements, and new features but they do not extend the support lifecycle. Patch releases for critical bugs or vulnerabilities are issued for specific major or update releases. Before they can be applied, you will need to make sure your ESXi installation has been updated to the corresponding update release. In the General Support phase, VMware also offers new hardware support. This means that VMware will work with its hardware partners to continuously update the VMware Compatibility Guide with new hardware platforms for that particular release.
During the 2 years of Technical Guidance, the support services offered are reduced. VMware no longer offers new hardware support, server/client/guest OS updates, security patches, or bug fixes, and customers are encouraged to use the self-help portal. It is still possible to open a support request for low-severity issues on supported configurations only. For these reasons, this phase is intended for customers operating in stable environments with systems that are operating under reasonably stable loads. An ESXi version reaches its End of Support Life (EOSL) at the end of this Technical Guidance phase.
ESXi 6.5 and 6.7 End of Life
ESXi 6.5 and 6.7 will be going end of General Support on October 15, 2022. Their Technical Guidance phase will run until November 15, 2023. However, VMware is offering 2 years of extended support for ESXi 6.5 and 6.7, which would mean you can claim support until October 15, 2024. In order to get continuous support, you have to buy the extended support before the end of General Support. This extended support does not include updates for 3rd party Software packages. There will be no architectural, performance improvements, or feature additions. Security patches are limited to one roll-up per year.
If you have purchased the 2-year extended support, you can also claim 1 extra year of technical guidance from the end of extended support (i.e. until October 15, 2025). If you have not purchased extended support, and you don't have the stable environment recommended for the Technical Guidance phase, you are strongly advised to update to ESXi version 7.0.
Over 57% of Currently Used ESXi Servers Will Go End of Life
With the upcoming End of General Support for ESXi 6.5 and 6.7, our data team at Lansweeper decided to have a look at the current situation of ESXi installs in their data set. The snapshot found over 79,000 ESXi Servers installed across over 6,000 organizations. Of these installations, 36.49% are of ESXi 6.7 and 21.30% are ESXi 6.5. This means that on October 15th, a total of 57.79% of currently used ESXi Servers will be going end of life. Moreover, the data revealed that 15.81% percent of installations are already using a version of ESXi that has been EOL for quite some time. All in all, this means that come October 15th, only 26.4% of ESXi installations will still be supported (7.0 or newer).
Find Outdated ESXi Installations
Keeping an accurate inventory of your virtual machines can be challenging. Luckily Lansweeper automatically scans detailed information from all of your servers, hosts, and virtual machines, including ESXi. Our team has created an ESXi Audit Report, that gives you an overview of all ESXi installations in your environment. That way you can quickly spot which versions you have installed and update them where necessary. If you are using Lansweeper's cloud version, the Lifecycle Management feature can also help you stay on top of end-of-life dates so you can plan ahead.