VMware Changing vSphere 5 Licensing To Allow 'Monster VMs'


New details have emerged on the vSphere 5 licensing alterations VMware is planning to unveil Wednesday in response to simmering customer angst over the potential for higher licensing costs.

In vSphere 5, VMware is moving from a licensing model that's based on the number of server cores to one that's based on the amount of vRAM, or memory that customers allocate to virtual machines on the host.

According to sources who've been briefed on the changes, VMware is bumping up the vRAM entitlement in vSphere Enterprise Plus from 48 GB to 96 GB, while vSphere Enterprise will go from 32 GB to 64 GB. The vRAM entitlement for vSphere 5 Essentials, Essentials Plus and Standard will go from 24 GB to 32 GB, while the free vSphere hypervisor will jump from 8 GB to 32 GB.

But the biggest cost savings for customers will come from VMware's decision to cap the amount of vRAM that counts against the customer's pool to 96 GB per virtual machine. This will allow customers to configure one terabyte of vRAM to a virtual machine -- the maximum vSphere 5 VMs can handle -- but only pay for the 96 GB in their vRAM entitlement, sources told CRN.

VMware will also calculate vRAM consumption based on a 12-month average of configured vRAM, as opposed to a monthly high water mark. This is important for testing and development scenarios, in which short term vRAM usage spikes would have counted as consumed vRAM and driven up customers' vSphere licensing costs.

VMware couldn't be reached for comment on the vSphere 5 licensing changes. But sources told CRN VMware is responding to a number of customer concerns that have arisen since last month's unveiling of the new vSphere 5 licensing terms.

Many customers that had calibrated budgets based on future hardware capabilities and vSphere 4.1 told VMware these budgets wouldn't be sufficient to cover the higher licensing costs in vSphere 5, sources said. VMware is also changing vSphere 5 licensing to ensure that customers won't hesitate to virtualize their business critical apps, sources said.

Given the amount of heat VMware took from customers and partners after revealing the vSphere 5 licensing changes, it's not surprising to see VMware change its terms, one channel partner told CRN.

"Aside from the customers yelling, I imagine that the server manufacturers were also screaming their heads off about the initial vSphere 5 limitations," said the source, who requested anonymity. "I could see customers calling their server manufacturers and trying to return the RAM they purchased because they couldn't even use it."

In the wake of last month's vSphere unveiling, VMware moved quickly to address customers' fears over higher licensing costs for VDI environments by introducing its vSphere for Desktop license, which costs $6,500 for 100 desktop VMs.

VMware plans to launch vSphere 5 in the third quarter, and will presumably do so at its VMworld 2011 conference in Las Vegas later this month.