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As you all know, vSphere 5 is released day. I was so happy and excited to see my favourite software made a milestone of it’s journey.

However, when I checked out vSphere 5 license, I found myself experiencing betray and sad feeling.

The reason for that is very simple. vSphere 5 license lift the CPU limit but put limit on the memory instead.


As you can see, the Enterprise can only allow Enterprise user to use Maximum 32GB per core for your VM.

Let’s take an example.

If you have 5 DL380G7 hosts. Each host has 2 processors and 384GB memory.

With your current Enterprise license, the maximum RAM you can use is:

5(hosts) x 32(GB) x 2 (proc) = 320GB (10 licenses)

If you want to use all your memory you have already bought which is 1920GB, you need to buy additional  50 Enterprise license!!

so with same company and same equipment, you have 5 times cost than vSphere 4.

What makes it even worse is:

vRAM Entitlement
We have introduced vRAM, a transferable, virtualization-based
entitlement to offer customers the greatest flexibility for vSphere
configuration and usage. vRAM is defined as the virtual memory
configured to virtual machines
. When a virtual machine is created,
it is configured with a certain amount of virtual memory (vRAM)
available to the virtual machine. Depending on the edition, each
vSphere 5.0-CPU license provides a certain vRAM capacity
entitlement. When the virtual machine is powered on, the vRAM
configured for that virtual machine counts against the total vRAM
entitled to the user. There are no restrictions on how vRAM capacity
can be distributed among virtual machines: a customer can
configure many small virtual machines or one large virtual machine.
The entitled vRAM is a fungible resource configured to meet
customer workload requirements.

Wow. It means no matter what kind of Vmware memory technology you applied to your vCenter, it’s calculated by virtual memory!!! Not even physical memory!!

It means if you use 4 GB on 4 VMs, in fact, only 1GB your physical memory is used by VMs, but it’s still counted as 16GB vRAM!!

WTF is Vmware thinking? guess what I feel when I read it? It’s a deal break for my career changing!! I guess I need to focus on Hyper-v and Citrix now. If their price is reasonable.

Is 13th July an excited day for Vmware? No, it’s a very very SAD day.

P.S: Too bad I just past VCAP-DCA. If I knew that, I would switch to Citrix Xen…..



  1. I’m not in the same boat yet, but the planned expansion puts a nice bomb on the plans. Just purchased 4 enterprise plus to fit some new DL385 G7’s in the existing DL385 G5p/G6 clusters we have. Expanding the ram next year is just a no brainer if we upgrade ram, its extra licenses. might just aswell buy more hardware…. and there virtualization with VMware is now less attractive in the long run, as that was our solution to cheap’ VM’s instead of putting in new racks every 3 months, I just did some magic in VMware, like double ram, an extra server… No more… What is fun is that it appears VMware refuses to understand this approach to virtualization amongst their customers. vSphere 5 is all about mission critical, ignoring the less important load. So thats what we put into opensource virtualizations or hyper-v?

    Whatever the future brings, I love virtualization, I’m VCP310 and VCP410, maybe I’ll look around at KVM/Xen/Hyper-V and see what they’ve got to offer for a better buck…

  2. Your mixing up cores with CPUs and physical ram with vRAM (in virtual machines) but essentially you are right.
    I will be looking hard at how this can be resolved and if Citrix Xen/MS HyperV is good enough in their next releases.
    Vmware will probably be too expensive with the current license model.

  3. For this new licensing scheme, you have to do the calculations on your *total* real world data center design, and not look at isolated servers.
    * What is the memory utilization of each server – not 100%. You license only vRAM, not pRAM.
    * Have you left any capacity for HA in your cluster? That is a proc license but zero vRAM
    * Do you have other machines/clusters with lower utilization that can be added to the pool.
    * Remember that core limitations are now gone

    For most people, costs will not change or you may have licenses to spare. There are cases where it will — in which case talk to us. But please run the real world numbers first. We’ll be providing a tool, and here’s a white paper:

    I’m not a licensing specialist, but if you have questions let me know and I’ll grab one.

    John Troyer, VMware

    • oh, yeah. We are moving HA resource from is something we don’t use become to something we are illegal to use.
      Once your VM memory breaks up the ratio 4GB memory each VM, the cost of each VM we deploy will rock up through the roof comparing with vSphere 4 which is 0 cost.
      4GB memory for a win2k8r2 is standard recommendation. And there is bigger chances we will use more memory in the near future since we all start to deploy Exchange, SQL, ERP into VMs.
      I’m pretty sure MS and Citrix are enjoying this moment and start to breath easily and regroup so they will give us something not much fancy but just handy and solid VM platform.
      I believe there will be one day Vmware realize they shoot themselves on the foot and change the license schema. At the end of day, it’s just license. Not technology obstacles.

    • Hi John, one example where the numbers simply don’t work out in any reasonable way: We have many machines with 2TB of memory and the ability to put 4TB (these are 8-socket machines).

      Licensing 8 processors previously would have cost roughly 8 x $3,500 = $28k

      vSphere 5 licensing includes 8 x 48GB = 384GB of vRAM entitlement and we would have 1,664GB remaining, requiring another 35 processor licenses. Let’s say we have 80% memory utilization, so 1,638GB total, we’re left with 1,254GB to license after excluding the 384GB included in the 8 processor licenses, so another 27 processor licenses.

      This means we have to buy 8 + 27 = 35 processor licenses now, or 35 * $3,500 = $123k (4.4x as much)

      Even if we partition these machines into 2 x 4-socket systems with 1TB each, and include 1 partition for HA fail-over, we end up with $200k in cost for 2 of these systems, whereas previously it was $56k. So, still 3.6x as much.

      I know it’s been discussed quite a bit that lower memory per CPU is more efficient cost-wise with vSphere 5, but when someone standardizes on hardware based on the then-current licensing method and this >3x price increase comes about, it’s impossible to justify the value to upgrade and customers will simply want to run large workloads on bare-metal instead. They’ll get better performance anyways and be able to buy more hardware, CPUs, and memory with the money they saved by not having to use vSphere 5. Yes it’s more convenient with vSphere to have dynamic allocations of resources, but for larger workloads, where vSphere 5 would shine, convenience isn’t worth the money.


  4. Finally VMware need to admit in virtualization memory and DISK performance is more important than CPU. Most of the time their so call sales and SE will insist not to go for high consolidation ratio in the past due to HA and performance consideration. Now with the new license model, they kind of agree that is limit them to make more money, therefore they cap for the vRAM rather than CPU.

    For technical perspective, I feel this is backward for myself if to follow the cap limit they set. I had already experience to run production with 35:1 since 4 years ago with 128 GB to 256GB memory on the 2 ways or 4 ways machines. With this new limit, they are telling me to consider small density machine, which can end up many host to be managed with lower density and under utilize resource especially on CPU and memory. Green wise, I am sure this is not green at all as it will consume more power from data center perspective. Just my 2 cents

  5. Oh No VMware, I would seriously do a u-turn on this licensing model. Don’t do a Novell, and give Microsoft and Citrix a hammer to hit you with!. Your customers will leave in droves if you do not. Why do this to make extra profit?.

    For some time now I have said, all VMware need to do is carry on producing excellent improvements like vSphere 5, SRM 5 and eventually integrate them into one product. You are miles ahead of the competetion in these technlogical areas. Keeping your customers on present profits is better than losing customers and experiencing profit loss, and giving MS a foothold too do a Novell on you.

  6. I’ve done my change 2 years ago and switched to CA/3Tera Applogic. They still use simple pricing per socket CPU regardless of core nor RAM and there is only 1 product to purchase. Nice and easy. Also support is included but you could be better off using MSPs (ther partners) for external support at side….

  7. I went through the same scenario and I have finally decided to use Hyper-V, Xendesktop and Xenserver for the multi million centralization project. VMware has to fix license or they will be loosing clients. Citrix licensing was way cheaper and you get hypervisor for free on platinum edition. No hardware limitations.

    • Robert Hagan - vPresence Limited
    • Posted 18/10/2011 at 11:26 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Good luck on that Rajes!. Even though VMware priced vSphere 5 too high, which it has now eased a little, I would never have gone the route you have chosen.

    Citrix is pretty lost with XEN, what is happening to XEN when KVM takes market share in this inux world.
    Hyper-V is just not scalable, so you will be needing to be lots more hardware and Windows licenses which kind of negates your cost savings.

    If you have a disaster with VMware, SRM and HA provides a robust recovery. Not the case with Citrix and MS!.

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