VMware changes licensing to placate users

Summary:VMware has tweaked its new licensing model, which had attracted the ire of many of its customers, saying that it was "a company built on customer goodwill", and took "customer feedback to heart".

VMware has tweaked its new licensing model, which had attracted the ire of many of its customers, saying that it was "a company built on customer goodwill", and took "customer feedback to heart".

On 12 July, VMware changed its licensing model. The licences are still doled out per processor and have the same price, but instead of constraining the number of cores for each processor as previously, VMware now constrains the amount of virtual RAM (VRAM) per processor (the amount of memory provisioned on virtual machines), giving each processor an entitlement.

The amount of VRAM allowed per processor varied by edition: 24GB for Standard Edition, Essentials Plus and Essentials, 32GB for vSphere Enterprise and 48GB for vSphere Enterprise Plus.

Gary Burgess, analyst at Ideas International, said at the time that most users wouldn't be affected, adding that it would hurt users who are using low-end servers with large memory configurations, or are using vSphere Enterprise Plus for its unlimited memory feature. He thought that removing the limits on core counts in processors is a good thing, since the performance per core continues to increase.

However, VMware users complained bitterly that this would mean a massive increase in licensing costs.

VMware has now posted a blog, which has announced changes to the new licensing model following the user feedback.

VMware has increased VRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions (32GB, 64GB and 96GB now for Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus, respectively).

Burgess said in his analysis of the move that this would help customers who were planning to make use of smaller, more powerful servers with greater memory density.

VMware has also capped the amount of VRAM that is counted in any virtual machine, so that no virtual machine would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus licence, even if it was a "monster VMs" of 1TB, which vSphere 5 can support.

This has solved the issue that a user couldn't run a 1TB VM on a four-socket server, unless it had other licences on other systems that they could take the pooled VRAM capacity from.

Burgess adds in his analysis that this change enables customers to virtualise larger business-critical applications with vSphere 5.

The last change that VMware has made is that VRAM usage is calculated on an a 12-month average instead of peak usage. This will allow users to temporarily increase memory configurations above licensed limits, as long as the 365-day average is within the limit.

Burgess said that he thought VMware's changes were sensible, addressing the key concerns of users.

"Ideas thinks that most people would agree that the previous pricing model in vSphere 4.1, which was based on processor slots in a server's backplane, wasn't a sustainable business model for VMware as processors with growing numbers of cores allowed more and more VMs to be deployed on individual servers," he said.

"The trick for VMware has been to adjust its licensing model in a way that balances its own needs with the expectations of its customers. These latest revisions will bring VMware closer to accomplishing that goal."

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Servers


Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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