Scrapping vRAM licensing is VMware's latest response to the competitive threats from Microsoft, Citrix and others, which were once theoretical but are now coming up quickly in its rearview mirror.
As first reported by CRN Monday, VMware is doing away with vRAM, a scheme that placed limits on the amount of memory that could be configured to virtual machines, in its upcoming release of vSphere 5.1.
VMware will return to the CPU-based licensing model it used prior to launching vSphere 5 last July, and it will position its cloud products as a bundled suite, according to sources familiar with VMware's plans.
But, the licensing changes extend even further: Sources told CRN Tuesday that VMware is moving to processor-based licensing for all its products, and it is also getting rid of the per-virtual machine licensing charges it currently uses in vCenter Site Recovery Manager and other offerings.
While not all VMware partners encountered problems with vRAM, they expect its return to CPU-based licensing to make it easier for customers to gauge costs, which in turn should help VMware bundle and sell more of its cloud products along with vSphere.
Simplified licensing will make life easier for both salespeople and engineers, according to Robert Germain, vice president of engineering at Hub Technical Services, a South Easton, Mass.-based VMware partner.
"This has been a long time coming," German told CRN. "In the past year, we've had to explain to clients why they cannot take a top-of-the-line server and max it out with two terabytes of RAM."
"Flattening the licensing and making it a lot simpler will certainly make life easier for our clients," said Patrick Cronin, principal at Kovarus, a VMware partner in South San Francisco, Calif., when informed of VMware's plans. "In fact, clients are going to be thrilled by the new structure and will hopefully purchase more of VMware's management products."
NEXT: The Looming Microsoft Hyper-V ThreatNot all VMware partners have encountered resistance to vRAM, however. The vRAM model allows for the pooling of resources across data center, and this has made it a versatile tool for virtualization solution providers.
"The vRAM pricing, when configured according to best practices, has had very little impact on most organizations. In some cases, such as when pooling vRAM from disaster recovery facilities, it could actually be advantageous," Steve Kaplan, vice president of data center virtualization at Presidio Networked Solutions, Greenbelt, Md., told CRN when informed of VMware's intentions.
"That said, there has been a lot of confusion around the pricing, so [discontinuing it] should put an end to any concerns," added Kaplan.
Microsoft is gearing up to release Windows Server 2012 and has whittled down around a dozen previous SKUs to just four.
Most customers will only have two Windows Server 2012 versions to choose from: Standard and Datacenter, with the latter coming with unlimited virtualization rights. This simpler model may have been behind VMware's decision to ditch vRAM, according to partners.
Microsoft has also used vRAM as the focus of its Hyper-V marketing, and the lower-cost argument no doubt resonated with at least some of VMware's customers.
"It is risky when you take your primary product and become so innovative with the pricing model. VMware just went for it, and that allowed competitors to create the perception that VMware was overcharging," said Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based virtualization solution provider.
This leads to a big question: What is VMware's next big strategic move? In the last two months, it has added the ability to manage competing hypervisors by purchasing DynamicOps and entered the networking space through its acquisition of Nicira.
Just as telling, VMware has started fighting back against Microsoft's trash talking, after years of taking the high road.
PUBLISHED AUG. 21, 2012