There are always a lot of questions around the larger transition to VMware ESXi for the underlying hypervisor. When ESXi was released in late 2007, a lot of questions were raised about how it will exist alongside the existing hypervisor- ESX. Those questions are answered, and ESXi is the hypervisor that will remain. While the official name of ESXi is now VMware vSphere Hypervisor, I still want to call it ESXi. The long name is generally reserved for the free installation of ESXi, but hey old habits are hard to break.

In Veeam Backup and Replication v5, there are only a few considerations for deciding between VMware ESX and ESXi. Generally speaking, Veeam Backup and Replication v5 offers full support for licensed ESXi installations. This is due to the fact that once ESXi is licensed to communicate with the vCenter Server, the full suite of management agents become active as they are licensed with vCenter.

The one caveat of how ESXi differs from ESX in terms of Veeam Backup and Replication v5 is support for host as a direct backup target. In the User Guide, the following statement may raise a number of questions:

However, at this time you cannot select ESXi as a backup target — as it is possible to do with “full” ESX servers.

This is due to how the data is moved from the host to the backup file. With ESX, it is possible however to make a backup from one ESX host to another directly on the VMFS datastore. This is loosely equivalent to the replication capability that goes directly to a VMFS datastore. However, Replication capabilities can go directly to a VMFS datastore on ESXi.

Let me be very clear, backups can exist on ESXi; but only to locations accessible to the Veeam Backup and Replication server. Most frequently, this is a local drive on the server or a network resource that it can access directly. Writing directly to a VMFS volume isn’t exactly that useful either. Many users frequently want to offload backup files to tape, and if the backup files reside on a VMFS datastore; they are less accessible to anything that can move them to tape.

The message we get from VMware is to get moving to ESXi. I’ve adopted it in my virtualization practice with success, and Veeam Backup and Replication can support it. If you have any comments about ESXi’s support for Veeam Backup and Replication; share them below and let’s talk about it.

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ESXi as a backup target with Veeam Backup and Replication v5, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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  • Rick,

    It might be helpful for some to use popular naming….ESXi free or vSPhere Hypervisor (which is recognized only as free) to illustrate your points. I think there is still a lot of confusion around targets for both backups and replication based on read-only APIs.

  • Kelly – yes. I’ll admit, maybe I get lazy 🙂

    I guess we need a poll or some sort of standard.

    Rick Vanover – Veeam Software



    I’m affraid I don’t understand well.

    I’m planning to start on virtualization by using vSphere Hypervisor (as such the free one 🙂 ).
    I’ll be using one big primary host and one little secondary host as a spare both connected on the same LAN.

    Will I be able to use SmartCDP feature on Veeam Backup and Replication v5 to implement near-continuous data protection from the primary to the secondary host ?

    Thank you for your advice.


  • Hi Rado. ESXi will need to be inventoried in vCenter or be licensed as standalone. The free ESXi (vSphere hypervisor) will not be an option.