With the introduction of VMware vSphere 5, VMware introduces a new licensing model. VMware will retain a per processor model but they removed some restrictions which were in the vSphere 4 licensing model. This is mainly regarding the number of cores per processor and the amount of physical memory in a host on which vSphere 4 could be deployed. With vSphere 5 it does no longer matter how many cores or amount of memory a ESXi hosts has.
Instead of the physical restrictions, VMware introduces a single virtualization based entitlement of pooled virtual memory (vRAM). According to VMware, this will simplify the process of purchasing deploying and managing vSphere while facilitating the move to shared infrastructure as a service.
vSphere 5.0 will be licensed on a per-processor basis with a vRAM entitlement. Each vSphere 5.0 CPU license will entitle the customer to a specific amount of vRAM, or memory configured to virtual machines. The vRAM entitlement can be pooled across a vSphere environment to enable a true cloud or utility based IT consumption model.
The vSphere 5.0 licensing model is per processor with pooled vRAM entitlements. According to VMware, this should offer customers the following benefits relative to the previous vSphere 4 model:
Simplicity – Removes two physical constraints (core and physical RAM), replacing them with a single virtual entitlement (vRAM). Customers now have a clear path to license vSphere on next-generation hardware configurations.
Flexibility – Extends the concept of resource pooling from technology to the business of IT by allowing aggregation and sharing of vRAM entitlement across a large pool of servers.
Fairness – Better aligns cost with actual use and value derived,rather than with hardware configurations and capacity.
Evolution – Allows customers to evolve to a cloud-like “pay for consumption” model without disrupting established purchasing, deployment and license-management practices and processes.
In all fairness, with this VMware introduced the much criticized virtual machine based licensing ‘with a twist’. Because they now license based on the amount of allocated vRAM, you’re much more limited in the total number of deployed virtual machines than you where when you were limited by physical memory and processor cores.
I’m afraid this may backfire on VMware, especially when in competition with Microsoft or Citrix.