VMware climbs down on vSphere 5 pricing

The company has altered the cost of licences for vSphere 5, making changes to how it counts virtual memory, after customers complained that the pricing was a tax on scaling up

VMware has changed its licence pricing for vSphere 5 in response to concerns from customers, who felt they would be penalised for running the virtualisation suite on servers with large amounts of RAM.

The adjustments mean that virtual machines based on vSphere 5, which has yet to launch, will be cheaper than VMware had proposed. In its licensing terms, VMware has boosted the amount of virtual RAM (vRAM) available to virtual machines. vRAM consists of pools of virtualised RAM made up of server memory.

VMware has also capped the amount of vRAM it counts per virtual machine at 96GB, and changed the way it calculates vRAM usage to average out amounts across 12 months, so that customers do not take a hit during short-lived spikes in usage, such as during developing and testing work.

"With these increased vRAM entitlements, hardly any customer will be impacted by higher licensing costs upon upgrading to vSphere 5," Bogomil Balkansky, vice president for product management for the company, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

In July, VMware gave details on vSphere 5, which is scheduled for release before the end of the third quarter. For the update, VMware departed from the licensing policy for vSphere 4 by charging according to the amount of vRAM used, rather than per socket. This was criticised by customers, many of whom saw it as a way of taxing the RAM on servers used to mount virtualised infrastructure.

With these increased vRAM entitlements, hardly any customer will be impacted by higher licensing costs upon upgrading to vSphere 5.

– Bogomil Balkansky, VMware

Those complaining argued that if a customer had a server with a large amount of RAM, then using the maximum amount of memory would increase the licensing cost, as the customer would need to buy additional licences to make the most of the memory native to the server.

At the time, VMware responded by saying many customers would find the RAM used for virtual machines to be less than the total available to the server. However, customers were chagrined because they saw the licensing system as a tax on scaling servers up.

In addition to the adjustments for vSphere 5, VMware has made changes to allowances with its free vSphere hypervisor. It has raised the physical RAM entitlement per physical server for vSphere-based virtual machines from 8GB to 32GB.

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