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Understanding the Licensing Changes

VMware drastically changed the editions in vSphere. In VI3, only three paid editions were available: Foundation, Standard, and Enterprise. In vSphere, VMware changed Foundation, which was geared toward small to medium-size businesses, to Essentials and added an Essentials Plus edition that includes HA and VDR. The company also added an edition between Standard and Enterprise, called Advanced, which includes more features but does not include Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)/DPM or Storage VMotion.

Finally, VMware added a new top-tier edition called Enterprise Plus, which adds support for 12 cores per processor, eight-way vSMP, distributed vSwitches, host profiles, and third-party storage multipathing, as shown in Figure 1.1. Table 1.3 summarizes the features available in each edition of vSphere.

Table 1.3. vSphere Features by Edition

Feature

Free ESXi

Essentials

Essentials Plus

Standard

Advanced

Enterprise

Enterprise Plus

Cores per processor

6

6

6

6

12

6

12

vSMP

4-way

4-way

4-way

4-way

4-way

4-way

8-way

Max host memory

256GB

256GB

256GB

256GB

256GB

256GB

1TB

Thin provisioning

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

vCenter Server agent

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Update Manager

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

High Availability

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Data recovery

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Hot-add

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Fault Tolerance

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

vShield Zones

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

VMotion

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Storage VMotion

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

DRS and DPM

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Distributed vSwitch

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Host profiles

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Third-party multipathing

No

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Existing VI3 customers with active Support and Subscription (SnS) are entitled to a free upgrade to the following vSphere editions.

  • VI3 Foundation or Standard customers can receive a free upgrade to vSphere Standard.
  • VI3 Foundation or Standard customers with the VMotion add-on can receive a free upgrade to vSphere Enterprise.
  • VI3 Foundation or Standard customers with the VMotion and DRS add-ons can receive a free upgrade to vSphere Enterprise.
  • VI3 Enterprise customers can receive a free upgrade to vSphere Enterprise.

VI3 Enterprise customers are not entitled to a free upgrade to Enterprise Plus, and must pay to upgrade their licenses to use its new top-tier features. In addition, the new Cisco Nexus 1000V vSwitch required both an Enterprise Plus license and a separate license purchased from Cisco for each vSwitch. Here are some key things you should know about licensing in vSphere.

  • vSphere is available in seven editions—ESXi single server, Essentials, Essentials Plus, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus, each with different features as shown in Table 1.3. The new Essentials editions are geared toward smaller environments and are comprehensive packages which include ESX and vCenter Server. ESXi single server remains free and includes support for thin provisioned disks. A new tier above Enterprise is called Enterprise Plus, and it includes support for host profiles and distributed vSwitches.
  • All editions support up to six CPU cores per physical processor, except for Advanced and Enterprise Plus, which support up to 12 CPU cores per physical processor.
  • You can upgrade your edition of vSphere if you want more features. The prices for this vary based on the edition you currently own and the edition you plan to upgrade to. Here are the upgrade path options.
    • Essentials can be upgraded to Essentials Plus.
    • Standard can be upgraded to Advanced and Enterprise Plus.
    • Advanced can be upgraded to Enterprise Plus.
    • Enterprise can be upgraded to Enterprise Plus.
  • The Essentials and Essentials Plus editions include licenses for up to three physical servers (up to two 6-core processors) and a vCenter Server. Both editions are self-contained solutions and may not be decoupled or combined with other vSphere editions. vSphere Essentials includes a one-year subscription; however, support is optional and available on a per-incident basis. vSphere Essentials Plus does not include SnS; instead, it is sold separately, and a minimum of one year of SnS is required.

VMware tried to phase out the Enterprise license and highly encouraged customers with existing Enterprise licenses to upgrade to Enterprise Plus. After receiving much customer outrage over this, VMware had a change of heart and decided to keep the Enterprise license around past 2009. However, this may change in the future, and VMware may eventually try to phase it out again.

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