vSphere 5 Details–Licensing

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


5 thoughts on “vSphere 5 Details–Licensing”

  1. 48GB of RAM per processor is not that generous an entitlement, especially for Enterprise Plus. Most virtualization hosts I’ve seen in the last couple of years have had 2 physical sockets, 8-16 cores (4-8 per socket), and 128GB+ RAM. It takes 2 licenses under vSphere 4 for this configuration; it would require 3-4 under the vSphere 5 licensing.

    Also, the vSphere 5 licensing is by allocation, not consumption. This means that even though vSphere can manage RAM consumption with TPS, RAM compression, ballooning, etc., you have to buy more licenses if you intentionally over-subscribe your hosts (RAM overcommitment). For example, if you overcommit RAM by 10% on a 128GB host, that’s ~144GB of RAM allocations. You would need 3 licenses instead of 2 on the typical 2-socket host.

  2. VMW screwed the pooch big time on this.

    I’ve a client running 22 VS4 Enterprise licenses, and approximately 1500 GB of running VM memory. They’re going to have to roughly double their license count to upgrade to VS5.

    Scenario #2, new VMW user needing 1500GB of running VMs. Cost of this using VS5 Standard would be around $60k, but hopefully they don’t need Enterprise or Enterprise + features, or figure out how much it would have cost them using VS4 licensing, eg) about half.

  3. Can only agree with the above two comments – based on recent years where Processors have vastly over-taken RAM in terms of ‘Compute’ performance. We have just gotten over a round of halving the number of processors (and therefore licensing requirements) and now VMware have a mechanism that doubles the requirement for licenses in contended environments.

    However, I suspect our example environment (gone from Dell Rackmount R900 Quad-Processor Xeons, to Dual Processor Nehalem Blades) is typical and VMware are trying to level things back up again.

    But,as VMware will tell you, you are welcome to continue with the features you signed up to when you bought your v4 licensing!

  4. Sorry #vmware im a VCP and I think you’ve made a massive boo boo with this one. by licencing in this way your giving M$ and CTX a good chance of growing their installed base. if vmware want to run the majority of internet platforms (or cloud if you really want to be “with it”) then this is not the way to do it!!

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