VMware released vSphere 4.1 today, but that wasn’t the only news out of Palo Alto.
VMware is also introducing a per-VM licensing and pricing model for most of its management portfolio. Customers can now buy licenses for vCenter Capacity IQ, vCenter AppSpeed, vCenter Site Recovery Manager and the Ionix management line on a per-VM basis.
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Under the old model, you had to buy these products on a per-processor basis. That’s the way licensing on physical servers has traditionally worked, but it’s not always the best way to do things in the virtual world. (For example, with Microsoft’s per-processor licensing for SQL Server 2008 R2, admins face two undesirable options: dealing with a limit on the number of guests per license, or paying twice as much for unlimited rights.)
This change by VMware recognizes the problems that per-processor licensing can cause for customers. Bogomil Balkansky, vice president of product marketing, said he hopes more vendors will follow suit.
“We have the chance, the opportunity, but also the responsibility to show leadership in how licensing should be done in a cloud world,” he said during a recent interview. “We need to get better alignment between value received and what customers are paying for.”
In theory, per-VM licensing gives customers more flexibility. But in practice, it can be complicated. You know how many processors you have on a system, and that’s a fixed number. But the number of VMs on one host — let alone throughout your entire infrastructure — is regularly in flux. How do you plan your purchasing around that? And how do you make sure you don’t violate your licensing terms?
I asked Balkansky those same questions, and his answer was surprisingly simple. Here’s how he said the procurement process will work:
You estimate your needs for the next year and buy licenses to meet those needs. Over the course of those 12 months, vCenter Server calculates the average number of concurrently powered-on VMs running the software. And if you end up needing more licenses to cover what you used, you just reconcile with VMware at the end of the year. (If you end up needing fewer licenses, VMware won’t reimburse you, but as Balkansky pointed out, there’s really no need to overestimate in the first place.)
It’s important to note that the per-VM pricing and licensing model does not apply to vCenter Server itself. And the Ionix management line, which VMware acquired from EMC in February, is now officially part of the vCenter family. VMware has combined Ionix Application Stack Manager and Ionix Server Configuration Manager into one new product, called vCenter Configuration Manager, and the company has also rebranded Ionix Application Discovery Manager as vCenter Application Discovery Manager.