In our test environment we have a dedicated server running ESXi 5.1 that predates my joining the company. We have just purchased a new server (Dell poweredge T320) with ESXi 5.5 preinstalled which we have installed in our test environment. The vSphere Client that we used previously for the 5.1 machine functioned fine for the 8 months I've been here. Once we installed the 5.5 machine, 2 strange things happened. First off, when I launch the vSphere Client to access the 5.1 machine, it says "The required cliient support files need to be retrieved from the server "vsphereclient.vmware.com" and installed. Click Run the installer or Save the installer." It does this every time.It does not, however, do this when we access the 5.5 machine. It does, however, pop up an 'evaluation notice' stating that we have x days before the evaluation license expires.
1. How do I get the installer to actually, permanently install what it needs to be able to access my 5.1 vm's without going through this 'updating' process every time.
2. We were under the impression that the ESXi and vShpere were no cost applications. Is that not true? Why am I on an evaluation license?
There is a free edition of ESXi known as vSphere Hypervisor but this still requires a license key. The license key is free and can be installed on up to 100 physical servers, therefore assuming your ESXi 5.1 server is also running with the free vSphere Hypervisor license then you can use the same license key on your ESXi 5.5 server.
Until you enter a license key the ESXi server will run in evaluation mode for a period of 60 days. In evaluation mode ALL functionality of the top end vSphere Enterprise Plus is enabled.
To check the license key connect to you ESXi server using the vSphere client, select the ESXi server on the left and the Configuration tab on the right, go down to "Licensed Features" under Software, it will show the product, e.g. VMware vSphere 5 Hypervisor.
To enter the license key click on Edit on the right hand side of the Licensed Features section.
If you need a vSphere Hypervisor license key for ESXi 5.5 go to Registration - My VMware
... but it was our understanding that esxi hypervisor was the free version
All ESXi editions - including the free Hypervisor - use the same binaries, and what makes the difference is just the license key you are using. So simply assign the Hypervisor license key you already have for the ESXi 5.1 host to the new host.
Regarding the vSphere Client issue. There's a separate vSphere Client for each version, i.e. one for ESXi 5,1 one for 5.5, ... All these clients can be installed side by side on the same system. What actually happens when you start the client, is that a launcher application is started, which - after requesting the appropriate information from the host you want to connect to - starts the proper vSphere Client.