Home > VMworld2012, vSphere > Post VMworld 2012 What’s New – Licencing

Post VMworld 2012 What’s New – Licencing

By far the biggest announcements that affect day to day operations are around licencing. Both what is gone, and what is added.

VMware has opted to remove the vRAM (vTax, as many took to calling it) which kept CPU/Socket licencing, but also tied a memory limit to each licence type. By doing so, it killed the concept of scale up with any means of affordability. Now, ALL vSphere products in the suite are priced simply – by socket, unlimited cores, unlimited RAM, unlimited VM’s. This should drastically reduce the number of SKU’s, keep purchasing managers happy, and make things a whole lot easier. We can finally bring back the memory dense host server, with only features that are required.

About those features! With the new announcement, also comes the vSphere vCloud Suite. This bundles in features such as vCloud Director and vShield into the main product. The less obvious changes though were the lower level changes. Some highlights of the licencing that has caught my attention:

vSphere vCloud Suites:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus licence holders can upgrade laterally over to vSphere vCloud Suite Standard. This suite includes vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Connector, vCloud Network and Security Standard – but is $4995/CPU.
  • Advanced includes all of the above, but also vCloud Network and Security Advanced vCenter Operations (vCenter OPS or vCOPS) Suite Advanced, for $7,495/CPU
  • Enterprise with all of the above, but upgrades vCOPS to Enterprise, vFabric Application Director, and vCenter Site Recovery Manager Enterprise at $11,495/CPU
  • Note though, while you can migrate for free, your new SnS costs will be based on the new product’s pricing. With this in mind, make sure you need or will use these features, or you’ll simply be paying more for support. Assuming a 20% yearly SnS, the vCloud Enterprise Suite would run $2299/year just for support, vs the $700 for just vSphere Enterprise. You do, of course get a ton of new features. Where this will be the biggest benefit is if you were previously considering either of vCOPS or SRM, you may be able to bundle it altogether. Do strategize on what is the best solution for you though.

vSphere Storage Appliance:

  • All suites from vSphere Essentials Plus now get access to the Storage Appliance at no extra cost. It is not immediately certain if this will be grandfathered in as kits are upgraded to the latest version. This mostly helps for SMB rather than Enterprise, but the VSA can be a very good solution for ROBO (Remote/Branch Office) sites

vSphere Individual Features:

  • As always, vMotion is available in the Essentials Plus and higher bundles. But vMotion now includes Enhanced vMotion, which provides for Shared Nothing (ie: No SAN/Shared Storage) migrations. This could be a great help for Dev/Test sites that may be licenced differently than Production and not have access to svMotion.
  • Essentials Plus and higher also bring vSphere Replication. This is the basis for SRM, and allows for a basic software based replication for those without SAN replication. Think of it is ‘SRM lite’ – it has no automation or scripting, but it at least gets your data over to the other side.
  • vShield Endpoint is included in just about all versions, allowing for Host based antivirus which is often agentless, smarter, and better at managing system resources that in-guest solutions – particularly for preventing anti-virus “scan storms”
  • vSphere Data Protection is now a complete rewrite and is provided by EMC’s Avamar product line. The features are still in the ‘bundled’ class vs those of a 3rd party solution, but the product now encroaches very close to what products such as Veeam B&R, vRanger, and the like can provide. It is, however, limited to 2TB per appliance, so the limitations may make it hard to deal with. Again, use for Dev/Test, ROBO or SMB could be a great fit.

Standard/Enterprise/Enterprise Plus:

You’ll find that not much has changed here. Features have not moved around or slid further down. You still get Storage vMotion with Standard, but need Enterprise to do VAAI/MPIO, or DRS/DPM. vDS, SIOC, NIOC, Host Profiles, and Storage DRS with Profile based storage – also still all Enterprise Plus.

If you were still using “traditional” in guest agent based backups to protect your environment, the drastic improvements in the vSphere Data Protection will likely interest you. The Replication option has been available in product like Veeam B&R for a while, but I think the use case for this feature is more in one time migrations from site to site. The VSA will certainly help the smaller sites.

The biggest benefits though, still come from the dropping of the vRAM pricing model. Many sites I knew of were moving up to Enterprise or Enterprise Plus, NOT to get features they wanted to use (nor have they implemented any), but simply to get bumps for vRAM/Socket from 32GB to 64GB or 96GB. If vSphere Standard is enough for your company or even a particular datacenter/cluster, and all you want is to put 384GB of RAM into a host – your licencing just got a lot simpler. For the cost of 6 $995 Standard Sockets, you can now provide a 3 node cluster with 1152GB (384×3) and 6 CPU’s with VSA shared storage, svMotion, Replication and basic backup. That’s a pretty decent value. For sites where that might not be sufficient for Production (for example, due to the lack of DRS, SIOC/NIOC, VAAI/MPIO, etc), that would still provide for a very decent DR site configuration.

vSphere vCloud Suites are a little harder to figure out strategy and benefits without also knowing active pricing on bundled products. Previously many of those products were priced on a per VM basis. If you’re looking for simplicity, the per-Socket is great, but the granularity provided by the per VM was nice – depending on the Product. vCenter Operations, for example, required all VM’s to be licenced or else it would have unmonitored ‘black holes’ where it wouldn’t know what was causing the problem on the monitored VM’s – so you would WANT to licence all VM’s in that case. For Site Recovery Manager though, you might not. Perhaps your remote site already runs a mirrored DAG copy of your Exchange databases – do you really need or want to migrate your 3 DAG cluster to the DR site? The same applies for Domain Controllers or Active/Passive SQL Clusters, etc. You could make the argument that you only want SRM to manage your Tier 1 VM’s to meet their RPO/RTO, and then the Tier 2 VM’s you recover from backup or some other solution. Given the costs of the vCloud Suites, one will want to very carefully take a look at the pricing to see if it makes sense. You may also find that not all hosts will get licenced the same, and this might increase your licence complexity just keeping track of who has what feature(s).

vCloud Networking and Security appears to have a feature set that could infringe on other networking and security providers. Features such as HA firewalls, Load Balancing, SSL VPN, etc, are all present. The best feature here is how tightly integrated into the core product they are, but given that these API’s are exposed to partners, I expect other products to have the same functionality. But again, I’ll be very interested in taking a look at these features in a lab environment.

Overall, I think the vCloud suite benefits are really going to come down to if you are a multi-tenant provider or a corporation. A multi-tenant cloud provider is going to want to have features that “everyone” can have, and likely have individual access to and manage. So here, the vCloud Director, VSA’s for Network Security, SRM by tenant management is going to be huge. But a corporate is likely going to do a lot of subsets or situations where tenancy is not a concern because of common administration. For example, it is almost certainly more beneficial for a corporation to purchase two virtual appliance based Citrix NetScaler or Barracuda Load balancers at a one (two) time cost and place them in their cluster. As the IT department will manage everything, there is no need to segment out by customer nor is there a need perhaps to have 2-5-10-20 of these appliances floating around. It’s great that you can have unlimited of something, but if all you need is 1-2, paying an overhead on all hosts for the ability to spin up more, may simply be a waste.

Something to consider about the above, came from a session I sat in on about the vCloud Networking and Security, where the presenter asked how many people were utilizing Virtual Security Appliances – the answer was that just about no one was. I thought about my own reasons for this, and realized that the common cause was likely the same – vRAM. I know in the case of at least one appliance I looked at (I cannot recall if it was a Load Balancer, WAN Accellerator or Firewall), it wanted 4-8 vCPU and 32GB RAM and 1TB of disk. Not the end of the world from a hardware perspective. But if you have 64/96/128GB hosts and are using all your vRAM, and need a pair of such VA’s, you’re looking at 64GB of vRAM, which was an Enterprise Socket, or $2800. That’s a heck of a premium to add to the cost of the host or the appliance. Now, if you are looking at current memory dense servers with 256-384GB with unlimited vRAM? The 32GB just blends in, and doesn’t hurt at all. This makes me think that we’ll see an uptake in virtual appliances as people start realizing that the vRAM doesn’t affect is and/or that the vCloud suites are very good but perhaps you don’t need to pay that price for (example) 8 nodes in your cluster, if you only need 2 of any such appliances in your corporation.

To summarize, without getting into particular strategies or white boarding:

  • If you want to upgrade from vSphere Enterprise Plus to vCloud Suite Standard, you have until October 15.
  • You can also continue to buy the current versions of product until then. If you are going to migrate, consider buying or upgrading your lesser licences to Enterprise Plus now, and take the free hop up to vCloud
  • If the only reason you have Ent/Ent+ was for vRAM, and Standard would do – consider talking to your licencing rep at VMware to see if you can trade these around. Maybe you can make 10 Ent licences be 14 Std or something – and licence new hosts in a DR site and expand your feature set that way.
  • Do a strong analysis on if your previous budget and wants with vCOPS and SRM make sense to roll it into a bigger bundle.
  • Thanks to the drop of vRAM, many locations may well get by with vSphere Standard again.
  • Make sure you keep in mind that if you’re using Standard with less features to have a cheaper DR site, that the loss of DRS and VAAI/MPIO may be features you really need when you’re cramming everything into a smaller environment hoping to make it get you by. Sometimes, saving a buck doesn’t help.
  • Essentials Plus is going to create some more feature rich ROBO sites and Dev/Test environments.
  • Even if you think that the included features aren’t that great, consider this – the fact that they’re bundled will put pressure on 3rd parties to lower prices and/or add enhanced features. Products such as NetApp OnTap Edge VSA, Veeam B&R, virtual NetScaler VPX, etc, should all get better as they have to compete with the bundled solution.
    More to come!
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Categories: VMworld2012, vSphere
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