vSphere 5 & 5.1 Licensing

As of today's announcement, the new vSphere licensing for 5 and 5.1 will be by per processor licensing moving forward from 27th August 2012.  This eliminate the need of vRAM entitlement which was used in vSphere 5.0 last year.

This come effect for all new and existing customers on vSphere 5.0 while vSphere 5.1 is yet to be released for download.  The updated End User License Agreements (EULA) will replaces and supersede statement can be found here.

This change was decided due to the feedback and confusion created when vRAM entitlement was release last year in partners and users.  Though vRAM would benefit people with bigger environment, the core processor licensing was still easier for everyone.

You can read from the vSphere 5 Licensing white paper here.  You may also refer to all the resources of vSphere whether for 5.0 or 5.1 all at this place.

I have the table of the license entitlement between 4.1 and prior and the new change for 5.x below:


vSphere 4.1 and prior
vSphere 5.1
Licensing
CPU
CPU
Subscription and Support
CPU
CPU
Core per Proc
- 6 cores for Free ESXi, unlimited CPU
- 6 cores for Essential, Essential +, Standard and Enterprise
- 12 cores for Advanced, Enterprise +
Unlimited
Physical RAM capacity per host
- 256GB for Essential, Essential +, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise
- Unlimited for Enterprise Plus
- Unlimited for all licensed editions
 
- 32GB physical RAM limitation for *Free ESXi with no API support
*For ESXi 5.1 Free Edition, it has a hard limit of 32GB physical memory.  Server with more than 32GB physical memory will not be able to boot up.  No API support means there are no VAAI, VADP, etc. API support for the free edition.

 Number of vCPU per VM
vSphere 4.x Edition
vCPU Entitlement
vRAM Entitlement
Free ESXi
4
Unlimited
Essential
4
Unlimited
Essential Plus
4
Unlimited
Standard
4
Unlimited
Advanced
4
Unlimited
Enterprise
4
Unlimited
Enterprise Plus
8
Unlimited


Number of vCPU per VM
vSphere 5.1 and after Edition
vCPU Entitlement
vRAM Entitlement
Free ESXi
8
Unlimited
Essential
8
Unlimited
Essential Plus
8
Unlimited
Standard
8
Unlimited
Standard with Operation
Management Suite Advanced
8
Unlimited
Enterprise
32
(8 for vSphere 5.0)
Unlimited
Enterprise Plus
64
(32 for vSphere 5.0)
Unlimited


Typically most customers who have big servers with high number of physical memory and running Standard edition will end up with more licenses after the new change.  But little will change for those using Enterprise or even Enterprise Plus.

What about vRAM warnings?
So at GA for vSphere 5 and 5.1, there will be still vRAM entitlement soft enforcement warnings.  However due to the change in licensing, VMware have updated the Product Documentation to ignore all such warnings.  Also you will find an updated EULA here on exempting of vRAM.  The hard enforcement for Essential and Essentail Plus editions will be removed.

How can I remove the warnings I am finding them ignoring?
For Essential and Essential Plus customers to remove the hard enforcement, they will need to upgrade the vCenter for 5.0 Update 2 or vCenter 5.1 Update 1.  For the soft enforcement warning in other editions, the same applies.   Currently at time of writing I did not see any new updates for the vCenter.  So I believe this will come at a later stage perhaps in the next few months to come.

If I have vSphere 4.x Enterprise (limit to 6 cores per CPU), and I have a server with 2 CPU each with 8 cores, what will happen and how many licenses would I need?
Referring this to our Licensing policy here, If you have more cores than the licenses, you would need to top up the different for that CPU.  E.g. a 8 Cores CPU would requires 2 x vSphere 4.x Enterprise licenses as each vSphere 4.x Enterprise licenses only allows 6 cores per CPU.  In review to this, it is best to upgrade to vSphere 5.x where you are not limited by core per CPU.

Can I choose to have only license 6 cores and use only one license if I have a 8 cores CPU in vSphere 4.x?
Answer is no.  This is automated via vCenter and ESXi servers and due to the licensing, it will automatically use 2 x vSphere 4.x Enterprise for each CPU more than 6 cores.


Update 3rd Sept 2012
Added information on vCPU limit for vSphere 4.1 and 5.1

Update 4th Sept 2012
Added information on Free ESXi

Updated 4th Jan 2013
Added VMware Multi-Core Pricing & Licensing Policy.
vRAM licensing is no longer valid.  There is unlimited vRAM for vSphere 5.x.
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