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VMware Takes vSphere Licensing to the Cloud

VMware announced major vSphere licensing changes this week that are designed to make its flagship virtualization platform a better fit for cloud deployment.   While licensing is still cpu-based, the new scheme eliminates previous restrictions based on underlying physical cores and physical RAM, and replaces them with a single virtual entitlement based on vRAM.

We welcome this new approach, and believe it addresses the majority of licensing concerns that we’ve heard from VMware customers over the past couple of years.  First, it’s much simpler – users can now focus on how they actually use vSphere virtual resources on a given pool of physical servers, versus having to worry about how those underlying servers’ processor and memory configurations might grow.  And since baseline licensing is still tied to number of server cpu’s, the new licensing will not force changes to customers’ existing purchasing and budgeting processes.

Second, it’s more flexible – VMware is enabling vRAM capacity entitlements to be pooled across processor licenses and workloads.  So if workloads on one server are not using their full virtual memory entitlement, the leftover vRAM capacity can be used by VMs running on other servers.  This fungibility of vRAM entitlements will provide administrators with a margin of error in allocating existing vSphere licenses, and also make it easier to plan for future vSphere licensing needs.

Third – and actually foremost in the minds of many senior IT managers – is the fact that the new licensing is intended to be more equitable, and better tied to the value that vSphere delivers to users. Whether the new pricing is actually achieving this third objective, depends on the VMware customer you talk to.  We've heard from a few customers who are quite satisfied with the new licensing, but we've heard from several others that they'll be paying a lot more under vSphere 5.0 licensing.  In particular, customers running memory-intensive applications on moderately to heavily consolidated physical servers have told us they'll be paying more, due to the additional cost of vRAM entitlements they'll now need to pay.

I would like to thank all of you who have commented on this post and shared with us your current vSphere licensing situation.  You have given us at Taneja Group a more complete perspective on how the licensing changes will impact you as users.  We are passing along your feedback - both positive and negative - to VMware, and encouraging them to take your comments seriously.  Thanks for speaking out... and keep your feedback coming.

  • Premiered: 07/12/11
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): VMWare Virtualization Cloud Licensing


The cost of licensing is till tied to an underlying host configuration = memory for VS5, esentially doubling licensing costs in high memory server configurations.  It sucks to be a UCS customer now.

By Brian Alletto on 07/12/11

How do the new vRAM entitlements affect you?

Please take 2 minutes of your time to fill out this vSphere 5 migration survey:

We need more data! Results will be posted in the main vSphere 5 licensing thread over at VMTN:

By William Chu on 07/19/11


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