VMware Raises vSphere 5 vRAM Entitlements

VMware listened to the growing din around its vSphere 5 vRAM entitlements, and announced an increase of vRAM limits in a blog Wednesday.

As a response to customer feedback,  VMware announced that it has changed the licensing model for vSphere 5. According to a blog posted Wednesday by VMware vice president of product management, Bogomil Balkansy, vRAM entitlements for vSphere 5 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus will be doubled from the original planned licensing model, with Enterprise now at 64GB of vRAM and Enterprise Plus capped at 96GB. vSphere Standard, Essentials/Essentials Plus and the free vSphere Hypervisor are all capped at 32GB.

Balkansky in the blog offered a link to an ROI calculator to assist in planning upgrades from VI 3.5 or vSphere 4 based on vRAM needs.

VMware made the original licensing pricing available on July 12, to coincide with the announcement of vSphere 5. VMware said at the time that licensing would be based on a per-processor-with-core-limitation scheme, and vRAM would be limited to fairly low minimums: Standard at 24GB of vRAM, Enterprise at 32GB and Enterprise Plus at 48GB. The change immediately drew some negative responses from the VMware community and several bloggers.

One of those bloggers, Elias Khnaser, a virtualization expert with The Elias Khnaser Company and a blogger for, wrote in his Virtual Insider blog that the change would "cost me about three times as much to upgrade to vSphere 5 or to roll out a new environment." He cited an example in which, even with vRAM being pooled, VMs can run out of memory simply because of the core limitation due to the licensing. "A 2-socket, 6-core server with 96GB or RAM, you would need two vSphere 4 Enterprise licenses," wrote Khnaser, adding, "to do the same thing with vSphere 5, you will need three vSphere 5 licenses."

vSphere Edition
vRAM Entitlement, July 12
New Limit
Free vSphere
8 GB

Late last week, there had been hints that a change was coming from VMware on the licensing issue. That hint came from another virtualization blogger, Derek Seaman, who had posted information on the new entitlements.

Even with the higher entitlements, reaction was mixed. "I think the allocated vRAM model makes little sense when VMware changed to a reserved vRAM model for VSPP users," commented Unixman. "It still means that I will NOT be able to upgrade my 4.1 vSphere Essentials environments to 5.0 without having to upgrade to 8 licences of standard edition, and that's before Moore's LAW kicks in over the next 12-18 months," said Steven J.

On the positive side: "I thought the original entitlements were too low but believe the new ones are very reasonable for today," said Seashellkc. "Well done VMWare, you've obviously listened. I still thnk 128GB for E+ would be more realistic," said Joshdel.

About the Author

Michael Domingo is Editor in Chief of Virtualization Review. He's been an IT writer and editor for so long that he remember typing out news items in WordStar.

Reader Comments:

Thu, Sep 1, 2011

Funny summary of Vmware by Microsoft:

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 I'd recommend folks read this, vRAM is a pool for all VMs, not a per VM entitlement as mentioned in the first comment.

Sat, Aug 6, 2011

Please note that these memory limitations are for the VM's and do not restrict the host running ESXi. You can still cram as much RAM into a physical server as you want. But a single VM won't be able to use more than 32, 64 or 96GB. How many people running the free or essentials actually have a VM using more than 32GB RAM?

Sat, Aug 6, 2011

I think it's more hype than anything else. We have ~1000 VM spawned across several servers. For us the licensing requirement is the same as for 4.1. Sure it will hurt some environments with huge VM's but those are not common these days.

Sat, Aug 6, 2011

it's better, but only moderately less painful. Vmware's biggest blunder in all of this was springing the new pricing suddenly in conjunction with the announcement of 5. If they'd given their customers a year to plan, prepare, and more importantly, budget for the change, it wouldn't have come as much of a shock and wouldn't have provoked as much outrage. It hit us especially hard, since we're in the middle of a hw refresh. We already had two dozen server replacements in mid-flight with 192gb of ram in them when the announcement came out. So the choice for us became whether to hold off on upgrading and stick with 4.1, switch to HyperV or XenServer, or pay 4x as much to upgrade to VMWare 5.

Sat, Aug 6, 2011

32GB is still not very much today. I was hoping to get a new server with 64 or 72GB for my testing environment. I will stay with 4.1 or look at xen.

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