vCloud Suite 5.1 Licensing Explained

VMware has announced the release of the new vSphere 5.1 solution. Together with this new release, VMware has also announce it’s new VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 licensing model. This model combines multiple components (vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Networking and Security, etc.) into a single product with a single license. All virtual machines running on a properly licensed vCloud Suite processor can use all components included in that vCloud Suite edition.

Licensing per processor

As mentioned above the licensing unit takes place per-processor. VMware no longer limits it’s customers physical resources and  on the number of virtual machines!!! VMware has listened to the VMware Community and no longer applies the vRAM principle. Or like other call it, the vTax. The VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 is licensed per physical processor. With all physical processors licensed in a server a customer can run all VMware products on top of this server that are licensed within the bundle.

vCloud Suites Editions


There are 3 editions available for the vCloud Suites :

1. VMware vCloud Suite Standard; vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Connector & VMware vCloud Network and Security Suite Standard.

2. VMware vCloud Suite Advanced; vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Connector & VMware vCloud Network and Security Suite Advanced and vCOPs Advanced.

3. VMware vCloud Suite EnterprisevSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Connector & VMware vCloud Network and Security Suite Enterprise, vCOPS Enterprise, vFabric Application Director and SRM.

So what’s the deal?

In my opinion VMware tried to simplify the whole licensing part of building a vCloud solution. Most customers that build a private cloud in general want to build such a vCloud solution in an easy manner, but it also needs to be easy to manage, must be monitored and should work in case of a disaster.

All of these components are in the bundle that is licensed with vCloud Suite Enterprise edition. An easy licensing path on the road to your own private vCloud. Most companies already have VMware vSphere licenses and VMware also provide an upgrade path toward the new VMware vCloud Suite licenses. For upgrading VMware has introduced the Fair Value Conversion Program that can be found at vcloud-suite-licensing.

For more information on the VMware vCloud Suite licensing see the vCloud Suite 5.1 Pricing and Packaging Whitepaper or talk to your own VMware sales representative.


vSphere 5 Licensing Update

VMware announced an update in the licensing for vSphere 5. There has been a lot of discussion. Especially about the introduction of vRAM as a limitation to the amount of VMs you can deploy. It’s good to see that VMware is open for discussion about their licensing change and has taken the reactions of customers and partners about it in consideration.

This change isa the result  of some good discussion about the vSphere 5 licensing change. In my opinion these new vRAM entitlement are a better representation of the 90% of customers, the amount that VMware was targeting, that should not be affected by the licensing change. This makes it possible for most vSphere 4 customers to migratie to version 5 without having to buy extra licenses and I think that was the message that came out of the discussion between VMware, its customers and its partners.

These are the changes made by VMware with regards to licensing :

An increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. This change addresses concerns about future-looking business cases that were based on future hardware capabilities and the previous vSphere licensing model.  Below is a comparison of the previously announced and the new vSphere 5 vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition:

vSphere Edition Previous vRAM entitlement New vRAM entitlement
vSphere Enterprise+ 48 GB 96 GB
vSphere Enterprise 32 GB 64 GB
vSphere Standard 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials+ 24 GB 32 GB
vSphere Essentials 24 GB 32 GB

A capped amount of vRAM is counted in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the “monster” 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license. This change also aligns with our goal to make vSphere 5 the best platform for running Tier 1 applications.

An adjusted of the model to be much more flexible around transient workloads, and short-term spikes that are typical in test & development environments for example. We will now calculate a 12-month average of consumed vRAM to rather than tracking the high water mark of vRAM.

For more information see the blog post on the VMware partner blog site here.

vSphere Licensing : Desktop edition

VMware releases a new vSphere License for the hosting of VDI desktops. In addition to the new vSphere 5 licensing editions, VMware releases a new edition : vSphere Desktop : vSphere Edition to host Desktop Virtualization


vSphere Desktop is a new edition of vSphere for deploying desktop virtualization.  It provides the full range of features and functionalities of the vSphere Enterprise+ edition allowing you to achieve scalability, high availability and optimal performance for all of your desktop workloads.

Also, vSphere Desktop enables you to realize high virtual desktop consolidation ratios at a lower cost as it comes with unlimited vRAM entitlement. The vSphere Desktop edition is intended for customers who want to purchase only vSphere licenses to deploy desktop virtualization. In addition to the vSphere Desktop edition, VMware also sells a comprehensive end to end desktop and application virtualization solution – VMware View. 

vSphere Desktop is already included in the View Bundle – The desktop and application virtualization product from VMware. This offer gives customers the option to purchase vSphere Desktop as a standalone vSphere edition outside of the View Bundle.

vSphere Desktop is licensed based on the total number of Powered On Desktop Virtual Machines. It is available in a pack size of 100 desktop VM at a license list price of $6500 USD.

vSphere Desktop can be used only for hosting a VDI environment.

The article below also gives a good example on how this new edition impact licensing cost in contrast to vSphere Enterprise Plus license.

vSphere Desktop is the cost effective vSphere SKU for deploying desktop virtualization.

Example: Customer deploying 1000 Win 7 desktops


Memory/VM =1 GB
vSphere Ent+: List Price: $3495/CPU with vRAM
entitlement of 48GB
vSphere Desktop: List Price $65/VM, Unlimited vRAM
entitlement for desktop VMs

# of vSphere Enterprise+ licenses required = (Total pooled vRAM required for all desktop VMs / MIN (vRAM used per processor, vRAM entitlement per processor)) = (1000 desktop VM *1GB / MIN (vRAM entitlement used,48GB) )

# of vSphere Desktop licenses required = # of desktop VMs


More information see this FAQ doucment over here.

VMware licensing : vRAM entitlement explained

The release of VMware vSphere 5 comes with a new licensing model. This model is based on licensing “per CPU with vRAM entitlement limitation”. As I mentioned in my previous licensing post this is a difference with regards to the previous vSphere version. :

“Also I need to mention that VMware changed it’s licensing model from a “per CPU with core / physical memory” to a “per CPU with vRAM entitlement limitation”. No longer the limitation is on the amount of cores or physical RAM memory in a server, but the limitation is in the amount of virtual memory (vRAM) consumed by the hosted virtual machines.”

In this post I will try to explain the per CPU with vRAM licensing model by using the example below. I hope this will make things a lot easier to grasp. After all it’s about licensing, so it’s about money! And in the end you don’t want to end up in a situation that you’re unable to power-on new virtual machines.


In the example we have 2 ESXi host that both have 2 processors. The amount of cores does not matter anymore when using vSphere 5. There is no longer a limitation on the amount of cores or the amount of physical memory in a server. But as mentioned above, VMware has introduced a new limitation with regards to licensing : vRAM entitlement.

vRAM entitlement

vRAM entitlement comes with each “per CPU” license. The amount of vRAM depends on the vSphere edition that is being used.

* vSphere 5 Standard Edition gives you 24 GB vRAM
* vSphere 5 Enterprise Edition gives you 32 GB vRAM
* vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus Edition gives you 48 GB vRAM

So this means that for each CPU license that you buy, you’ll get a certain amount of vRAM entitled. In the example above there are 2 physical CPUs in each ESXi host. Making a total of (2 x 2 = ) 4 physical CPUs you’ll need to license for VMware vSphere 5. In the example I’m using Enterprise licenses, which entitle me to 32 GB of vRAM per CPU license. This makes a grant total of 128 GB of vRAM which I can use.

The total vRAM is also known as a vRAM entitlement pool. This is the combined total of all the ESXi hosts managed by a vCenter instance or a set of linked vCenter instances. Every vRAM entitlement is aggregated into one pool which can be used by all virtual machines managed by vCenter.

vRAM usage

The usage of vRAM comes with the amount of virtual machines that is powered-on. Each time a virtual machines is powered-on, licensing will check if enough vRAM is available in the vRAM pool. The amount of vRAM used by the virtual machine is then added to the total amount of vRAM used by all virtual machines combined.

The total of the used amount of vRAM must be equal of lower then the total amount of vRAM in the vRAM pool. If this is not the case, the virtual machine will not be powered on and you’ll need to buy more licenses or upgrade to a higher vSphere Edition (if possible).

In the example above we have 18 virtual machines, all configured with different amounts of vRAM per virtual machine. The total amount of vRAM used by all virtual machines is 68 GB.


So looking at the example again. I’ve got 128 GB of vRAM in my vRAM pool. At this moment I’ve got 18 virtual machines that combined have a vRAM usage of 68 GB.

So to calculate the amount of vRAM I still have left I need to take total licensed vRAM minus the vRAM that is already used by the virtual machines :

Total licensed vRAM – Used vRAM = Available vRAM

In the end this comes down to 128 GB (Total licensed vRAM) – 68 GB (Used vRAM) = 60 GB of vRAM that still available for new “to-be-powered-on” virtual machines.

I hope this gives a good impression of how the vRAM entitlement works in vSphere 5. For more information have a look at the VMware vSphere 5 Licensing, Pricing and Packaging Whitepaper over here.

Update  : PowerCLI guru Luc Dekens already wrote a Powershell scrip to verify if your vSphere environment is covered by the new vRAM licensing model. See for yourself over here.

Licensing in VMware vSphere 5

With the new vSphere release VMware also updated the licensing for this release. The diagram below gives a graphical representation about what features are included per vSphere edition.


As you can see VMware will release vSphere 5 into 3 Editions : Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. These can be bought individually, but can also be purchased in Acceleration Kits which will give you a fixed amount of vSphere CPU / vRAM licenses and a vCenter license for a standard price out of the box.

Also I need to mention that VMware changed it’s licensing model from a “per CPU with core / physical memory” to a “per CPU wit vRAM limitation”. No longer the limitation is on the amount of cores or physical RAM memory in a server, but the limitation is in the amount of virtual memory (vRAM) consumed by the hosted virtual machines.

Besides the vSphere Editions you can also buy the (SMB) Essentials kits. These are specifically targeted at small businesses. Not all vSphere features are included in these releases, but enough to run your SMB workloads.

For more information about licensing and how to obtain vShere 5 over here.