Today, VMware made their official announcement of vSphere, the next generation of virtualization technology in their flagship ESX line. There has been a lot of coverage of vSphere online in the weeks leading up to today’s big announcement. To me, the most interesting information and the most sought after is the answer to one simple question – what will this upgrade cost me as a current VMware customer with an active support agreement.
As always, the answer depends. We currently carry Enterprise licenses and support on all of our ESX hosts, totaling 21 now. The Enterprise support entitles us to the vSphere Enterprise licensing. This includes all but two of the new features introduced with vSphere. The two missing features are the vCenter Host Profiles and the Distributed Network Switches. There is an upgrade path for us at the relatively low cost of $685 per processor to move to the Enterprise Plus. I personally look forward to the Distributed Network Switches to ease the management of adding VLANs one at a time across our largest, 8-node cluster. But really, our organization is just at the cusp where this management becomes a burdeon. So, it may or may not be worth us subscribing to the top level.
VMware’s licensing has been relatively simple and straight forward, something I have applauded them for. As they continue to evolve, the licensing gets a bit more complex, but in this release they’ve kept it fairly simple. VMware keeps their Standard level license. They have introduced an Advanced level to the mix which looks a lot like VI3’s Enterprise level. The Enterprise level gains quite a few features in the release and as mentioned earlier, they have added an Enterprise Plus with just a couple additional features useful only in large shops.
The other thing I should note is that VMware has raised the number of cores supported on a “processor” license with the vSphere release. Standard and Enterprise level customers can run up to 6 cores on a processor socket. Advanced and Enterprise Plus gain the ability to run up to 12 cores on a processor socket. Enterprise locked at 6 cores is a head scratcher, considering they are allowing Advanced 12 cores, but aside from that, the additional 2 cores per socket is a welcome change. Obviously, VMware is attempting to protect their bottom line with 8 core processors on the horizon. 8 core machines will mean increased revenue from Enterprise customers needing to upgrade to get the full benefit of their hardware.
VMware also introduced a pre-packaged 3 server license targeted to Small Businesses. This is a good move, in my opinion, to offer a very inexpensive option for small business who could benefit the most from the resiliency that vSphere (or VI3) can offer to the small, often-outsourced IT department in many small businesses. There are two levels – vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus.
For additional information about the pricing and licensing, check out VMware’s website at http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf.