UPDATE – vRAM Entitlements have now been revised – please see this post
Licensing – WTH are ‘Pooled RAM Entitlements’?
VMware are narrowing down the version choices in vSphere 5 and changing the model (Slightly), rather than being just based around a single CPU with a maximum number of cores (as per version 4.x), version 5 has a licensing model they describe as per processor (CPU) with pooled vRAM entitlements.
VMware claim the new method is safer and fairer – but we are not convinced, since nahalem removed the need for lots of CPU’s and made memory king many virtual environments have been decreasing CPU requirements over the last 18 months. I have been involved in two projects that have halved the numbers of CPUs in each environment whilst quadrupling the RAM. VMware are filling this gap by removing the core restrictions from each ‘per-CPU’ license, but (depending on the version you are buying) allowing you a restricted amount of RAM per license. They are being flexible as this vRAM can be placed anywhere on hosts connected to your vCenter instance.
To be clear you are no longer restricted on how many cores or how much physical RAM you have on an installation of vSphere 5, but each CPU license will allocate an amount of vRAM into your vRAM pool.
So the important question is ‘What is the ‘entitlement’ PER PROCESSOR for the various editions that I can add into my Pool of RAM:
Entitlement by vSphere edition
– 8GB vRAM for vSphere Hypervisor Based on ESXi (FREE Edition)
– 24GB vRAM for Essentials Kit
– 24GB vRAM for Essentials Plus Kit
– 24GB vRAM for Standard
– 32GB vRAM for Enterprise
– 48GB vRAM for Enterprise Plus
So on the surface, this looks quite healthy, HOWEVER, you need to be aware that this is based on allocated vRAM to virtual machines, NOT physical RAM, so the model begins to look a little more challenging. As blog reader Colin Dunn pointed out and in line with the above comments, memory is now king in the virtual world and most typical nodes in an enterprise will be dual (hex-core) processors and 128GB+ of RAM, to commit all of this and over-subscribe by a modest 10% would consume 144GB of Pool vRAM Entitlement. So in the new world an over-subscribed host would now consume THREE Processors worth of licensing on a host that would previously have only required TWO. This is of course balanced against those environments where utilisation is low, but the fact remains.
More Details on Licensing Pricing and Packaging Can be Found at THIS VMware Whitepaper
For Upgraders also visit the following URL – http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/upgrade-center/licensing.html