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How VMware can fix the vSphere 5 licensing mess

VMware really could have approached vSphere 5 licensing differently to make it less painful for existing customers. It’s understood and accepted that VMware licensing had to change, but the company could have implemented a better model.

Some of the initial customer outrage has subsided, but problems remain, and VMware needs do something about them. Here are some suggestions:

Discount vSphere 5 upgrade licenses

Why not sell memory upgrade licenses at a discount, instead of forcing customers to buy full licenses? Making customers buy a full, per-socket license for more memory is ridiculous. If I need to expand my house to accommodate more people, I don’t buy another house.

Raise the vRAM bar

VMware could Increase the vSphere 5 memory limits, because they are pretty low right now. On a six-core CPU, you might run 20 virtual machines (VMs). Right now, with the Standard license, I get only 24 GB of virtual RAM (vRAM). Modern Windows OSes are memory hungry, and 4 GB of memory is becoming standard. Under the current allotments, I could assign each VM only 1 GB of memory, or, I’d have to buy three or four additional licenses.

Throw customers a bone

When VMware released vSphere 4, VMware gave deals to existing customers that upgraded from Enterprise to Enterprise Plus. Why not do something similar with vSphere 5? VMware could offer one-time compliance discounts for those customers that need to close the vRAM shortfall with the new licensing model. Instead of ticking off your loyal customers, maybe act like you care a bit and help make the financial burden easier for them. Your customers are responsible for your success. Remember, there are now viable alternatives to VMware. If you want to keep your customers, work with them.

Exempt virtual appliances

VMware is punishing customers that run its virtual appliances. There are more and more appliances running these days, because that’s the model that VMware uses to deliver applications. But these virtual appliances count against the vRAM totals, leaving less memory for virtual machines and applications. I have several appliances, including the vSphere Management Assistant, vCenter Server, vCenter Mobile Assistant, vShield and CapacityIQ. Make these appliances exempt from the vRAM totals.

I agree that the vRAM model is probably the easiest and fairest way to implement licenses changes. But the way VMware first delivered the news was bad. Because of that, VSphere 5 will forever be known for this licensing mess, instead of great features such as Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler, increased scalability and improved High Availability. It’s not too late to make changes that will make it easier for customers to swallow this giant licensing pill without choking.

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