VMware 5.0 Licensing Changes: Your voices have been heard

VMware alters its 5.0 licensing model based upon customer feedback. Toast the company that listens to its constituents. Can a company run for public office?

Do you think big companies don't listen to your insignificant voice? Ordinarily, I might agree that they don't. I would join the chorus in saying that big corporations bow to their boards and investors. And, we'd be right. However, VMware is different. They don't have to be different but they are. VMware is the Microsoft of the virtualization space and they don't have to pander to anyone's murmuring, complaining or whining. They could hold you for ransom. Some of you thought that's exactly what was happening with the new VMware 5.0 licensing model announced in mid-July. Today, VMware shows that its focus is on you, the customer.

They have heard your voice and have answered you.

The following is the meat of their announcement:

Nonetheless, these changes have generated a great deal of discussion and debate in the blogosphere, across the VMware communities, and in direct conversations with customers and partners. Some of the discussion has reflected confusion about technical terms and the exact nature of the changes. Other comments are more specific to customer and partner use cases and future planning. In all instances, we have been watching the commentaries on the blogs very carefully, and we have been listening to customers very intently. We have collected a huge amount of feedback about the impact of the new licensing model on every possible use case and scenario.

We are a company built on customer good will, and we take customer feedback to heart. Our primary objective is to do right by our customers. Therefore, we are announcing three changes to the vSphere 5 licensing model that address the three most recurring areas of customer feedback: We've increased vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. We've capped the amount of vRAM we count in any given VM, so that no VM, not even the "monster" 1TB vRAM VM, would cost more than one vSphere Enterprise Plus license. We've adjusted our model to be much more flexible around transient workloads and short-term spikes that are typical in environments such as test & dev. Summary of Changes and Impacts Below is a description of what we have heard from our customers and partners, the changes we are making, and the positive impacts we expect they will have:

Customer feedback Changes to the vSphere 5 licensing model Impact

The vSphere 5 licensing model…

1. Affects only a small percentage of customers today, but customers are concerned about their future-looking business cases based on powerful new hardware capabilities. Substantially raise the vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition from 48/32/24/24/24 GB to 96/64/32/32/32 GB. With these increased vRAM entitlements, hardly any customer will be impacted by higher licensing costs upon upgrading to vSphere 5.

2. Introduces additional hesitation for virtualizing business-critical apps. Cap the amount of vRAM counted per VM at 96GB.¹ No application, no matter how big, will require more than one vSphere (Ent+) license to be virtualized.

3. Penalizes short-lived usage "spikes" in dev & test, and transient VMs. Calculate a 12 month average of consumed vRAM rather than a high water mark. Short lived "spikes" will increase the 12-month average in a minimal way, but a customer will not be required to pay for them in perpetuity.

To recap, here is a comparison of the previously announced and the currently unveiled vSphere 5 vRAM entitlements per vSphere edition.

vSphere editionPrevious vRAM entitlementNew vRAM entitlement
vSphere Enterprise+48 GB96 GB
vSphere Enterprise32 GB64GB
vSphere Standard24 GB32 GB
vSphere Essentials+24 GB32 GB
vSphere Essentials24 GB32 GB
Free vSphere Hypervisor8 GB32 GB²

Customers have also asked us about their use of vSphere for VDI. This has already been addressed with the vSphere Desktop edition. The vSphere Desktop edition does not have any vRAM entitlements; it allows customers to purchase vSphere for VDI use case on a per user basis.

We have several resources available to help customers understand how the new licensing model applies to their environment. We have developed a tool you can apply against your VI3.5 or vSphere 4 environments to ascertain your vRAM consumption, and therefore any impact on vSphere 5 licensing. Learn more by visiting our on-demand virtual event on this topic.

We remain confident that our vSphere 5 licensing model based on pooled vRAM is the right one for the cloud computing era. We are fully committed to meeting our customers' and partners' unique needs. Your continued feedback is important to us as we move forward together on the virtualization and cloud computing journey.

Thank you, VMware. We, your customers, appreciate you and your position.

What do you think of VMware's decision to alter their license model based upon your feedback?