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VMware Revises Contriversial Licensing Model for vSphere 5 vRAM

In an announcement made on Wednesday, VMware said it is changing its licensing model for vSphere 5 in response to negative feedback from customers. According to a blog posted 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 VirtualizationReview.com, 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
32GB
Essentials
24GB
Essentials+
24GB
Standard
24GB
Enterprise
32GB
64GB
Enterprise+
48GB
96GB

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.

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 New VMware client

I just did purchase a 4.1 enterprise licenses last month and was able to buy 3 licenses. Under the new model it would have been 4 licenses and that would not have allowed for any expansion of memory which we plan on doing next year when we add the rest of our physical servers to our virtual enviroment. I guess their accounts found a better way to make a larger profit then they already make.

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