You can use evaluation mode to explore the entire set of features for ESXi hosts. The evaluation mode provides the set of features equal to a vSphere Enterprise Plus license. Before the evaluation mode expires, you must assign to your hosts a license that supports all the features in use.

For example, in evaluation mode, you can use vSphere vMotion technology, the vSphere HA feature, the vSphere DRS feature, and other features. If you want to continue using these features, you must assign a license that supports them.

The installable version of ESXi hosts is always installed in evaluation mode. ESXi Embedded is preinstalled on an internal storage device by your hardware vendor. It might be in evaluation mode or prelicensed.

The evaluation period is 60 days and begins when you turn on the ESXi host. At any time during the 60-day evaluation period, you can convert from licensed mode to evaluation mode. The time available in the evaluation period is decreased by the time already used.

For example, suppose that you use an ESXi host in evaluation mode for 20 days and then assign a vSphere Standard Edition license key to the host. If you set the host back in evaluation mode, you can explore the entire set of features for the host for the remaining evaluation period of 40 days.

For ESXi hosts, license or evaluation period expiry leads to disconnection from vCenter Server. All powered on virtual machines continue to work, but you cannot power on virtual machines after they are powered off. You cannot change the current configuration of the features that are in use. You cannot use the features that remained unused before the license expiration.

For information about managing licensing for ESXi hosts, see the vCenter Server and Host Management documentation.