Sometimes a company rethinks its strategy and thinks it has found a new edge. This was, or better, is the case with the new licensing model for vSphere 5, that was announced 12th of July.

Actually, vSphere 5 has a lot of new and exiting features, but all were pushed into the shadows by this new licensing model. Comments varied from ‘it will not hurt us right now’ up to ‘this is opening the door for HyperV and all other competitors!’.

Fortunately, VMware also is a company that quickly learns and as they watched the storm run through virtualization land, they came to the conclusion that a slight adjustment would silence the competition, reinstate lost faith (if that happened at all :)) and, most of all, bring peace of mind to their customers.

Earlier today, an announcement was made by VMware’s VP Product Management, Bogomil Balkansky, with new vRAM limits for the, yet to be released, vSphere 5 licenses. The releasedate, by the way, is expected to be on the 22nd of august. The following announcement was made:

As many of you know, with the introduction of vSphere 5 we also announced changes to the vSphere licensing model in order to align costs with the benefits of virtualization rather than with the physical attributes of each individual server.  These changes generated debate in the blogosphere, across the VMware communities, and in conversations with customers and partners.  Some of the discussion had to do with confusion around the changes.  We have been watching the commentaries on the blogs very carefully, and we have been listening in the customer conversations very intently. We got a ton of feedback that probed the impact of the new licensing model on every possible use case and scenario, and equally important, reflected our customers’ intense passion for VMware.

We are a company built on customer goodwill and we take customer feedback to heart.  Our primary objective is to do right by our customers, and we are announcing three changes to the vSphere 5 licensing model that address the three most recurring areas of customer feedback:

  • We’ve increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.
  • We’ve capped the amount of vRAM we count in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the “monster” 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license.
  • We adjusted our model to be much more flexible around transient workloads, and short-term spikes that are typical in test & dev environments for example.

Below is a description of what we heard from our customers and partners, the changes we are making and the impact we expect they will have:

Customer feedback

  The vSphere 5 licensing model…

Changes to the vSphere 5 licensing model

 

Impact

 
1. Affects only a small percentage of customers today, but customers are concerned about their future-looking business cases based on new powerful hardware capabilities Substantially raise the vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition from 48/32/24/24/24 GB to 96/64/32/32/32 GB With these increased vRAM entitlements, hardly any customer will be impacted by higher licensing costs upon upgrading to vSphere 5
2.  Introduces additional hesitation for virtualizing business critical apps Cap the amount of vRAM counted per VM at 96GB[i] No application, doesn’t matter how big, will require more than one vSphere (Ent+) license to be virtualized
3.  Penalizes short lived usage “spikes” in dev & test, and transient VMs Calculate a 12 month average of consumed vRAM rather than a high water mark Short lived “spikes” will increase the 12 month average a little but a customer will not be required to pay for them in perpetuity
[i] Note: this change will NOT be reflected in the native vCenter Server 5 vRAM reporting capability at GA time; it will be included in a future vCenter Server 5 update release. However, before such update release is available, customers will be able to use a stand-alone free utility for tracking vRAM usage that will reflect this change.

To recap, here is a comparison of the previously announced and the currently unveiled vSphere 5 vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition

vSphere Edition

 

Previous vRAM Entitlement

 

New vRAM Entitlement

 
vSphere Enterprise+ 48 GB 96 GB
vSphere Enterprise 32 GB 64 GB
vSphere Standard 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials+ 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials 24 GB 32 GB
Free vSphere Hypervisor 8 GB 32 GB[ii]
vSphere Desktop Unlimited Unlimited
[ii] this limit is GB of physical RAM per physical server

I should also point out that the concern around using vSphere 5 for VDI was already addressed with the vSphere Desktop edition. The vSphere Desktop edition does not have any vRAM entitlements, and allows customers to purchase vSphere for VDI use case.  vSphere Desktop is licensed on the total number of Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines.

We are confident that our vSphere 5 licensing model based on pooled vRAM is the right one for the cloud computing era. We are fully committed to meeting our customers’ and partners’ unique needs, and have several resources available to help customers understand how the new licensing model applies to their environment. I would specifically point you to the ROI calculator on upgrading to vSphere 5, as well as a tool you can apply against your VI3.5 or vSphere 4 environment to ascertain your vRAM consumption, and therefore any impact on vSphere 5 licensing.