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Simplifying VMware vSphere licensing and pricing

Vinod Krishnan
Major changes have been brought in the VMware's vSphere licensing model, with the offering for the SMB segments in the form of vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus (launched in India during 2009). Here's a look at what the new licensing models entail.

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vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus:

The focus with these editions is not to burden small and medium businesses with unnecessary functionalities and accordingly price them moderately. These two editions give them the same hypervisor that VMware has been improvising over the years.

The Essentials edition will start from $165 per processor. The vSphere Essentials edition comes as a pack of six processors with a management console. Essentials is priced at $995 for six pack processors.  

vSphere Essentials Plus provides SMBs with high availability features, data backup capabilities, and centralized management capability along with patch management. Essentials Plus is priced at $2995 for the pack of six CPUs, which also includes the management console. Per incident support pack has been launched specially for the SMB segment.

With Essentials, SMBs have the option of going with or without support pack. In Essentials Plus, they have the option of going for annual contract or per incident contract.

vSphere Enterprise Edition:

This edition has been targeted at the commercial and enterprise segment, which requires increased manageability and availability. The same hypervisor is used in all the four enterprise editions. The stack of functionalities changes along with the package.

The standard version is priced at $795 per CPU. vSphere Advanced edition is priced at $2245 per processor. vSphere Enterprise is priced at $2875 and Enterprise Plus at $3495 per processor respectively. The pricing for support and subscription are additional.

In the Essentials and Essentials Plus versions, vCenter server is bundled free with the six processors pack. Standard and above customers have to separately opt for vCenter.

Licensing and support options:

VMware basically has three licensing options vSphere for vSphere. These models are as follows.

  •   The first licensing option for vSphere is a CPU based licensing model. Support and subscription components need periodic renewal. The licensing for Enterprise editions is socket based. Each CPU could be up to 12 cores in the newly launched stack. Customers are charged on the basis of each physical socket, and the customer can have up to 12 physical cores within it. For Standard and Enterprise editions, the limit is up to six physical cores. Customers can upgrade their services by paying the differential amount. This model is preferred for primary server virtualization and virtualization for disaster recovery requirements.
  •   vSphere's second licensing model is for desktop virtualization requirements. The intention is to make licensing more logical and give these users a sense of ownership. VMWare has taken a per concurrent user based desktop licensing model for vSphere, which is based on the number of employees in an organization and the number of desktops to be provisioned.  The software required to run in the background is provided accordingly. The organization needs to think of the concurrency percentage and perform concurrent based licensing on VMware. This model has really taken off, as it simplifies the whole vSphere licensing process for customers and gives them a price advantage over CPU based licensing.

  • vSphere's third licensing model is based on the new cloud based offerings, where the partners would offer virtual machines on a rental basis to buyers. The payment could be on a monthly basis or a pay per use model. There is definite interest in customer communities to embrace the cloud, which is diverging into two directions. One is the large enterprise, which wants to set up its internal cloud. The other is the SMB which does not have a large IT requirement, and wants to opt for individual virtual machines on a cloud basis. This vSphere licensing model is still emerging, and should take off in the next six to 12 months.

There are three types of support models for vSphere.

  • Per incident support for SMBs.


  • There are two support models for the enterprise segment. One is the basic model which gives a full subscription (patches, upgrades and updates). Apart from that, VMware also offers 9 to 5 support, which is available five days a week. This is also known as the Gold support pack.


  • Mission critical support, which is the same Gold subscription, but offers 24/7 support. This is also known as Platinum support.

About the author: As the regional manager for VMware India, Vinod Krishnan is responsible for leading the business development and sales efforts of VMware in India. His areas of expertise include key account management, new business development, direct sales, reseller partnerships, product management, pre-sales consulting and solution sales.

(As told to Jasmine Desai.)