The Five Stages of VMware Licensing Grief

by Bob Plankers on July 12, 2011 · 52 comments

in System Administration,Virtualization

Update 8/3/2011: VMware announced updated licensing terms (link is to my post on the matter).

As part of the vSphere 5 & Cloud Infrastructure Suite announcements today VMware announced a new licensing model. And, as expected, people are having a fit. A few of us were briefed on this new model last week, and I’ve got a four-day head start on the denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance that seems to follow this change. Let me work through it with numbers from my environment, as an IT professional, in a professional way. Hopefully this will let some people pass from the anger stage to bargaining (perhaps with their VMware sales representatives) and on to acceptance.

Before I start, I do want to say that for some people this will be a negative change. For some it will be a positive change. And for a lot of people it’s just a change. Every environment is different, and this change will definitely alter the way we size VMs and hosts. The change from Advanced licensing to Enterprise will also play into it, as will the different licensing levels in general. I urge you all to do the math for yourselves and find the truth of the situation, and if it’s bad tell VMware about it.

Personally, I don’t like that the change penalizes those using the “fewer, bigger machines” model, which is a giant time & money saver. I do like the new licensing because I can now assign direct values for chargeback for VMs, based on size. If you don’t do chargeback this is neither here nor there.

My environment:

  • 429 virtual machines, with 1533 GB of RAM allocated to them.
  • 19 licensed hosts, in 4 discrete clusters managed with a single vCenter instance:
    • Dell PowerEdge R900, 128 GB RAM, 4 sockets – Quantity 6 (24 sockets total, 768 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R610, 48 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 3 (6 sockets total, 144 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R710, 96 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 4 (8 sockets total, 384 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R810, 256 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 6 (12 sockets total, 1536 GB)
  • 50 sockets of Enterprise Plus licensing.
  • Clusters built on N+1 sizing, which changes the counts to:
    • Dell PowerEdge R900, 128 GB RAM, 4 sockets – Quantity 6 (768 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R610, 48 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 2 (96 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R710, 96 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 3 (288 GB)
    • Dell PowerEdge R810, 256 GB RAM, 2 sockets – Quantity 4 (1024 GB)

Things to note, based on the vSphere 5 Pricing & Licensing Guide:

  • This is NOT a per-host license, it’s a pool. That will even things out a bit between hosts that are not full and hosts that are.
  • This is NOT based on physical RAM. It’s on allocated RAM.
  • In an N+1 situation you will not pay for the +1, because there are no VMs allocated on your spare capacity.

So, I have 2832 GB of physical RAM in total.

However, if I fill all of that I’m hosed, because I will have used all the +1 in my N+1 sizing. Not cool. So if I remove the +1 hosts from the counts, focusing just on the “N,” I have 2176 GB of capacity.

With my Enterprise Plus licenses I get 48 GB per socket.
48 GB * 50 Sockets = 2400 GB of licensed capacity in my pool.

2400 GB of licensed capacity minus 1533 GB allocated to VMs = 867 GB surplus in the pool.

When I fill my cluster I’ll still have 224 GB of surplus.

So I’m okay for the vSphere 5 upgrade, and I will have to figure out how I’m going to size my next set of hosts because the math is different for that now. I’ll cover that in another post, because I haven’t run the numbers yet.

Please keep comments professional and informative. Thank you!

Update: I’ve continued thinking about this topic over at “A Look at VMware Licensing & Environment Growth.

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