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This content is part of the Essential Guide: VMworld 2018 conference coverage
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Time is up for vSphere 5.5 users: Upgrade or pay to stay

LAS VEGAS – A large portion of VMware customers face a decision as the end of support for vSphere 5.5 draws near: Risk foregoing commercial support and security updates or pay up for a 12-month support extension.

With just a couple weeks left until the Sept. 19, 2018 deadline, organizations are nearly out of time to upgrade to a newer version of VMware’s flagship virtualization software. VMware’s analysis of customer data earlier this year indicated 46% of vSphere customers still run version 5.5, said Mike Adams, senior director of product marketing for VMware’s cloud platform business unit, in a presentation at VMworld.

Organizations, especially large enterprises, commonly take a cautious approach to critical software updates. But the large number of customers that still cling to 5.5 exemplifies long-held complaints about vSphere’s management client options. VMware responded to customer complaints about poor web client performance and retained the Windows-based C# client for vSphere 6.0. However, like many X.0 releases, that version was not quickly or widely adopted. In fact, according to VMware, versions 5.5, 6.5 and 6.7 all have more users than vSphere 6.0.

The addition of a fully-featured HTML5 client in vSphere 6.7 Update 1 is likely to motivate customers to upgrade.

“The bug fixes in Update 1 will help a lot, and the HTML5 client will be wonderful,” said Brian Mathias, a virtualization engineer at Huntington National Bank. “I hate the web client.”

Mathias said he’s also interested in the vSphere Platinum edition, which bundles 6.7 Update 1 with VMware’s AppDefense security software.

Both Platinum and standalone vSphere 6.7 Update 1 versions will be generally available by the end of October, Adams said. That timeline could put some vSphere 5.5 customers in a tough situation given the Sept. 19 end-of-support deadline. VMware will not offer single-month extended support options, Adams said. So customers who want to upgrade from 5.5 to 6.7 Update 1 will either forgo support for at least a month or purchase the 12-month extended support package. VMware is not publishing the cost of that extended support, and a VMware representative said customers should contact their sales representatives for more details.

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