When we look for patterns from the past, sometimes we can really get a good idea of what the future might entail. If you take a look at the way VMware has rolled out licensing changes during each of the major releases you can see a pattern and get an idea of what the future may bestow upon us. When Virtual Center was first released, vMotion and vSMP were licensed separately from Virtual Center as an add-on for Virtual Center.
Once VMware ESX3 was released, vMotion and vSMP pretty much became a standard feature included in ESX3. Virtual Center was still sold separately and then VMware presented three licensing models for VMware ESX3.
|ESX Server 3.5|
|Virtual SMP, VMFS|
When upgrading from VMware ESX 2 to VMware ESX 3, your ESX 2 license would convert to the 3.5 Standard Edition, with VMware having a lot of incentive upgrade offers for the Enterprise edition to be able to take advantage of vMotion , sVmotion, DRS and DPM.
When VMware released vSphere 4 they continued to follow the pattern where if you have the Enterprise Version of ESX3 and a current support contract you would be able to get licenses for vSphere4 at no addition costs. However, to take advantage of Storage I/O, Network I/O Control, Host Profiles, 8-way vSMP and distributed switch, you had to upgrade to Enterprise Plus. Below is a graph with the feature sets for each of the different versions.
VMware vSphere 4 – Versions
|Overview||Server consolidation and no planned downtime||Secure and always available infrastructure||Powerful & efficient resource management||Policy-based datacenter automation|
|Processor Entitlement||Per 1 CPU||Per 1 CPU||Per 1 CPU||Per 1 CPU|
|Memory/Physical Server||256GB||256GB||256GB||No limit|
|Cores per processor||6 cores per CPU||12 cores per CPU||6 cores per CPU||12 cores per CPU|
|Thin Provisioning||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Update Manager||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Data Recovery||Sold separately for this edition||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|High Availability||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|vMotion||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|vStorage APIs for Data Protection||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|vStorage APIs for Array Integration||X, No||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|vStorage APIs for Multipathing||X, No||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Hot Add||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|vShield Zones||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Fault Tolerance||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Storage vMotion||X, No||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|DRS||X, No||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|DPM||X, No||X, No||√, Yes||√, Yes|
|Storage I/O Control||X, No||X, No||X, No||√, Yes|
|Network I/O Control||X, No||X, No||X, No||√, Yes|
|Distributed Switch||X, No||X, No||X, No||√, Yes|
|Host Profiles||X, No||X, No||X, No||√, Yes|
|8-way vSMP||X, No||X, No||X, No||√, Yes|
In a nutshell, when a new release comes out, if you have a support contract in place, you would be able to upgrade to an equal version but all the newer advanced features would be available as an upgrade option. There have been no real big surprises when it comes to the way VMware has been licensing their products through the different releases. The big licensing change happened when vSPhere 5 was released. In VMware vSphere 4 the licensing model was per physical processor based on the number of cores per CPU and the physical memory. The VMware vSphere 5 license model is based per physical processor and the allocated memory (vRAM) across the entire vSphere environment for a particular vSphere 5 edition.
This was a radical change to the current model and there was a lot of talking and shouting about this change in licensing. So much conversation about this topic in that VMware took the time to reevaluate the memory part of the licensing to change the amount of memory per VMware version.
|vSphere 5 edition||Old vRAM (GB) entitlement per Physical CPU||NEW vRAM (GB) entitlement per Physical CPU||Max vCPU/VM|
|vSphere 5 Hypervisor (free version)||8||32 Physical limit (no vRAM entitlement)||8|
|vSphere 5 Essentials||24 (max. 6 processor license, total 192GB)||32||8|
|vSphere 5 Essentials plus||24 (max. 6 processor license, total 192GB)||32||8|
|vSphere 5 Standard||24||32||8|
|vSphere 5 Enterprise||32||64||8|
|vSphere 5 Enterprise plus||48||96||32|
The advanced features that are only available for Enterprise Plus version of vSphere 5 are
- Storage I/O Control
- Network I/O Control
- Distributed Switch
- Host Profiles
- Auto Deploy
- Storage DRS
- Profile-Driven Storage
Following the license pattern, we should be able to get a general idea of the way VMware may license future releases of vSphere unless VMware really decides to change the license rules again. Later this year, Microsoft 8 and Hyper-V version 3 will get released and there is no denying that Microsoft is making great progress with Hyper-V in playing catch-up with VMware. Microsoft is on the verge of crossing the threshold where Hyper-V is a viable competitor to VMware.
Right now, if you count everything you would need to deploy Hyper-V or vSphere (Systems Center, vCenter ect) the cost is relatively close. Will this cost basis stay relatively close between Microsoft and VMware? I am inclined to think that any more major deviation from the licensing norm going forward might cause companies to really reconsider which virtualization technology they want to support and invest in. Here is an example of a comparision of costs between vSphere 4 and Hyper-V to get a rough idea of how close.
|Vmware vSphere||Microsoft Hyper-V|
|VM OS||Windows Std||Windows Std|
|Management||vCenter||Server Management Suite DC|
|Operations Manager 2007 R2|
|Option 1 — Apply Windows DC Licenses to vSphere Hosts|
|Option 2 — Increase VMwareDensity to 15 VM’s per Host|
Now that the competition is getting close, you not would think there would be any radical changes to increase overall pricing but rather a shrinking of the costs of the standard infrastructure and an expansion of the advanced feature sets and other products. I think VMware got more push back from customers about the licensing change than they originally thought they would get. Would it be worth it for VMware to redefine licensing again to add another tax? Adding taxes did not quite work out well for the English a couple of hundred years ago and we will see if VMware makes another push to change the norm to increase revenue and the revolt that might follow.