vSphere5 Licensing: Part 5 (Solution)

So VMware has caused considerable consternation and gnashing of teeth over their new licensing structure. (see Twitter and other places I listed before)

The main issue is the sudden cost increase for users wanting to scale up – it now costs a considerable amount to hit 512GB of vRAM configured for VMs when it was “free” before. Cisco UCS especially has been pushing big (256-512+GB) servers which only needed one license per proc in 4.x but now need many additional licenses to use all the memory.

This really hits those trying to save the planet by conserving resources through heavy consolidation. It also kills the notion of over-commitment, which VMware has previously used as a major selling point especially for SMB.

My Solution
I think a tiered approach for licensing would work the best for VMware and clients.
Keep the existing licensing the same, but make available two additional options per family – Tier2 and Tier3 vRAM entitlements.

Tier2 would be a a slightly discounted license (40% off?) for up to 256GB total vRAM for a server and Tier3 would be a more discounted entitlement (60%) for licenses past 256GB.

Here’s how it would work:
Server with two CPUs gets two vSphere5 Standard licenses (good for 48GB vRAM)

User wants 256GB of vRAM and thus needs 9 additional licenses. These would be priced at the Tier2 level (say, a 40% discount)

A user wanting 512GB of RAM with Standard would need 9 licenses at Tier2 and 11 licenses at Tier3

An Enterprise or Ent+ customer would need less licensing to hit the discounted Tier3 level which would encourage users wanting to build 1TB VMs to upgrade their licensing level.

This would also preserve revenue for VMware – otherwise as vSphere performance and hardware improves license purchases would drop and I want all the R&D funds they can get to work on 32 vCPU FT! 😉

Monitoring and licensing
This would actually be pretty easy. As I mentioned previously you will already be required to work with VMware licensing directly to add additional vRAM entitlements to an existing server.

Since a server can only have one license string associated with it, VMware Licensing will need to “build” you new strings when you purchase additional licenses. This allows VMware to easily control how the Tier2/3 licenses are used and ensures you can’t skip Tier2 or run Tier3 directly on a host.

This leaves a loophole around the “pool” idea – companies could purchase all licenses for one server, getting them to Tier3 faster. In that case VMware licensing knows how many base server licenses a client has, perhaps a requirement for all or most servers to be at Tier2 before purchasing Tier3, or a memory cap per server with Tier3 would be most economical.

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