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VMware Listens, Changes vSphere 5 Licensing

It is not often that a technology company truly listens to its customers and openly corrects its position. Usually, changes are made months and years later and the change is introduced in a subtle and stealthy way.

VMware today bravely changed the licensing and corrected it. I'm ecstatic at the change, but I'm even more excited to hear that there's a culture at VMware that takes its customers seriously, one that is saying "we listen, we understand and we are the customer's champion."

For the record, as soon as VMware announced officially the vSphere 5 licensing, I wrote on Twitter that VMware cannot sustain this licensing model and that it would be changed within 60 days. I also wrote on my hope that Stephen Herrod announces the change at VMworld. I am happy that this change came earlier rather than later. I had feared it would backfire on vSphere 5 had this not been amended.

You can see the new changes here, here and here, so I wont' repeat them in this blog. The new limits are significantly better and completely fair and workable. The changes make the upgrade easy going from vSphere 4 to 5. Keep in mind that this is still a per-processor license, so if you have a dual-socket server, you will need two licenses; if you were purchasing the Enterprise Edition license, that means you are entitled to 128GB vRam.

Now keep in mind that the vRAM is cluster-wide: If you have four or five ESXi hosts in a single cluster, the vRAM entitlement is pooled between all the hosts in that cluster.

One other thing to pay attention to is that in any vSphere environment, you have to take into account high availability. In this case, if you plan on dedicating or assigning 128GB of memory to your VMs, you will need to have at east 20 to 25 percent extra physical memory for HA. This physical memory does not count against your vRAM entitlement.

Let's take a real world scenario. If you have a server with two sockets and you plan on provisioning 32 VMs with 4GB of memory, then your vRAM requirements would be 128GB. So, you can get away with purchasing the Enterprise Edition. However, while you are licensing the server for 128GB of vRAM, you should have 25 percent more physical memory in that server for HA. The configuration of your server would end up being 160GB of physical memory.

So, what about VDI? VMware thought about that too, and gives us the vSphere Desktop Edition, a licensing package that is dedicated to virtual desktops. This edition has no limitation on vRAM, but has a limitation on the number of powered on VMs. The limit is 100 VMs per ESXi host. Again, that is a very fair and acceptable ratio; most VDI environments have 65 to 75 VMs to host, so it is perfect.

The Desktop Edition is also not limited to VMware View, so for those that are deploying Citrix XenDesktop on vSphere, this edition is a perfect compliment.

Finally, I am very proud to be one of the many that voiced their concern about vSphere 5 licensing and I am also very proud to be part of the VMware vExpert community and congratulate its major contributors on making sure that our feedback got to the right place to make a difference. This type of culture will ensure VMware's continued success.

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 08/03/2011 at 12:49 PM


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