vSphere 5 Licensing: Tempest in a Teapot

6a0128779ad48c970c015433d1774a970cSo right up front, I’ll tell you there’s no way I’m offering an opinion on this topic. There’s no upside, and I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. For all of you who have sent me a DM, e-mail, etc.. asking if I was going to put up a blog post with my feelings, there’s your answer. I am willing, however, to (carefully) lend some perspective and advice to both sides as the discussion continues.

What I want to do is make sure that everyone understands the resources that are out there so that you can figure out what this means for you and your company.

First, the official documentation: http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/overview.html

Next, the official VMTN thread: vSphere 5 Licensing. By my count, the thread has:

  • A load time of around 30 seconds
  • 33,000+ views since July 12th at 5:23pm (>5,000 day, or >208 per hour)
  • 113,150 words of text
  • 685 individual posts
  • 231 mentions of Hyper-V
  • 98 mentions of Xen (interesting numbers between those two…)
  • 128 mentions of the words “money”, “cash” or “revenue”
  • 30 mentions of the word “fair”
  • 35 instances of posters cussing
  • 9 different vExperts contributing a total of 63 posts.
  • 6 different posts complaining that the vExperts aren’t chiming in enough.
  • 1 post complaining that a specific vExpert is posting too much and just trying to drive traffic to his website. O-o

This thread certainly isn’t the only one on VMTN! I counted around 20 more that were active all discussing the same issues. Feel free to jump in wherever you see fit…

Finally, here’s a link to the licensing presentation and “Q&A” sessions that are happening over the next few weeks: http://www.vmware.com/go/vsphere5-licensing-webinar. There is a text-based chat Q&A included, so ask what you need to ask (respectfully) and push to get the answers your business needs.

6a0128779ad48c970c01538ffe200d970bWhatever your feelings, and however the licensing is going to affect you, speak up! VMware can only react to what they know about, so if you have a beef, or if you think the new model is fantastic, please speak up on VMTN, to your reseller/partner, to your VMware rep, to anyone who will listen. If you just want to vent, let me know where to meet you and the first few rounds are on me.

To the customers, I say do the math yourself. Don’t just look at what you are going to pay today, look at what you are going to pay to license the infrastructure you’ve already invested in. Make sure you account for HA, be realistic with your consolidation and RAM/VM ratios, and figure out if there’s a delta and how much it will be. If you have an ELA, you are not required to change to the new licensing model until your current contract expires, and if you don’t have an ELA maybe you should think about it. After you do the math, of course. If you are confused, there are a ton of great VMware partners out there who can help. I know Jason Nash (@nash_j) over at Varrow LOVES to answer VMware licensing questions, so hit him up on Twitter!

6a0128779ad48c970c01538ffe2023970bTo VMware, I say back away from the speaking points and listen to your customers and partners. Stop telling them to run the tool when they are asking about the capacity they could have used in 4.1 versus the capacity they will have to pay for in v5. Customers buy hardware to last 3-5 years, so if someone just bought hardware, and you tell them that they won’t have to pay more today (like 95% of your other customers, we got it…) understand that they are talking about tomorrow as well. Yes, they know you have removed the core-count cap, but you can fit an awful lot of RAM into the 6-core CPU that was covered under the old Enterprise licensing… Finally, be willing to discuss the consolidation ration and RAM numbers that you cite as the basis for the allocations. I’m hearing from customer after customer that they don’t make sense in their environment. I’m not saying you have to agree that a 60:1 allocation or a 32GB VM is “typical” today, but seeing how the vSphere 4.1 licensing included targets (6-core for Enterprise and 12-core for Ent+) that are still, 2+ years later at the very, very far end of the hardware use-cases I think asking why you used today’s numbers versus where you project them to be two years from now is fair. Yes, over the next two years customers might have to choose to limit their core count in order to use the old licensing model, but don’t push that as “simplicity” or “evolution” when customers would be happy to make that choice, and in many cases already have as evidenced by their most recent hardware purchases. Finally, please stop using the word “fair” in the discussion. The statement that you are aligning costs with “value derived” is extremely subjective (at best) and I have yet to find a customer who has responded well to this word-play.

vSphere 5.0 is an incredible product, made by an incredible group of people. Let’s ALL, customer, partner and VMware alike, work hard to make the licensing model supportive of everyone’s desire to grow the use and adoption of the greatest hypervisor in the history of the world. All this focus on the licensing is taking away from the hard work done by thousands of VMware developers and partners, and keeps all of us from being able to focus on continuing to push into the Tier 1 app space.