News: VMware Announces Updates to vSphere 5 vRAM Licensing

In response to numerous concerns voiced in the community and on this web site VMware has announced an update to the vRAM based licensing for vSphere 5.  The key changes are:

  • Increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus.
  • Capped the amount of vRAM counted in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the “monster” 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license.
  • Adjusted the model to be much more flexible around transient workloads and short-term spikes that are typical in environments such as test and development.

Summary of Changes and Impacts

Customer feedback 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 powerful new 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. No application, no 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 in a minimal way, but a customer will not be required to pay for them in perpetuity.

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 64GB
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

Additionally, VMware has addressed the issues with vRAM entitlements for VDI by offering the vSphere Desktop edition. The vSphere Desktop edition does not have any vRAM entitlements; it allows customers to purchase vSphere for VDI use case on a per user basis.

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Bernd Harzog
Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud). Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets. Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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