UPDATE: VMware has announced an increase, effectively doubling the vRAM entitlements that were originally announced. This post is dated, and you should refer to VMware‘s site for official information on pricing…
VMware previewed vSphere 5.0 today via a live webcast with CEO Paul Martiz and CTO Steve Herrod. The vSphere 5 releases should be available in the third quarter of 2011, according to a press release from VMware. Along with many enhancements, a new licensing model was also announced which removes the physical processor and RAM limits which were previously imposed on vSphere licenses. The new model uses vRAM, or RAM allocated to virtual machines, in a pool for your entitlement. VMware says that the change is to allow for more robust hardware deployments for the cloud without restrictive hardware based entitlements. It offers the same pay-for-consumption model as cloud services.
As a current vSphere customer, I was immediately wondering what does this mean for my licenses and how will my existing licenses under maintenance be converted to vSphere 5.0. The answers to that an all the licensing changes can be found in this PDF from VMware – http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vsphere_pricing.pdf.
In short, here are the changes:
Processor restrictions from vSphere 4 are removed. vSphere 4 Standard & Enterprise were limited to 6 cores per processor (socket). vSphere 4 Advanced and Enterprise Plus were limited to 12 cores per processor. vSphere 5 has no cores per processor restriction.
Physical RAM restrictions were removed. vSphere 4 Standard, Advanced, & Enterprise editions were limited to 256GB of RAM per host. vSphere 5 has no physical RAM restriction.
vSphere 5 introduces the vRAM per processor entitlement. vSphere Essentials, Essentials Plus & Standard liceses receive 24GB of vRAM (RAM allocated to VMs) per processor license. vSphere Enterprise receives 32GB of vRAM per processor and vSphere Enterprise Plus receives 48GB of vRAM per processor. vRAM consumption is based on the amount of allocated virtual RAM to virtual machines.
vRAM can be pooled and consumed by all hosts managed by a vCenter instance.
vSphere Advanced licensing level no longer exists in vSphere 5. Users of this level are entitled to Enterprise licensing.
The licensing guide states that vRAM entitlement should be purchased in advance of use and is based on a “high watermark” usage, however, the licensing guide says that a hard stop will not be imposed should you consume more than your license, except with vCenter Server for Essentials.
vRAM consumption is measured by the amount of virtual RAM configured to all powered on virtual machines in a vCenter instance (or multiple instances, if linked)