back to article VMware taxes your virtual memory

The rumored feeds and speeds of the latest ESXi 5.0 hypervisor at the heart of VMware's just-announced vSphere 5.0 server virtualization stack were pretty much on target and something that customers will applaud. But no one had heard about VMware's new pricing model for the vSphere 5.0 software, which attaches a fee to the use …


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  1. Allison Park


    We like VMware for consolidating/compressing old x86 boxes, but our mission critical workload is on IBM Power systems. It looks like the latest VMware version will allow each VM to scale to two chips, not sure why VMware still does not scale to 8 sockets for each virtual machine. Unfortunately, we have Oracle software and they require us to replicate all failures on bare metal without vmware before they will touch our problems.

    I think HP needs to buy emc with vmware to become relevant again in the IT space.

  2. Nate Amsden

    64 licenses of enterprise

    How stupid is this - if you were to take that same 2TB box and configure it for enterprise instead of enterprise plus you'd need 64 licenses and pay $184k for less features.

    There really should be no way to configure a lesser version of software to cost more than a better version of software on the same hardware.

    VMware's competitors I'm sure will waste no time in taking advantage of this, much like the Netflix fiasco today I can hear the onslaught of customer outrage by this kind of change. It won't happen right away since well you can't get vSphere 5 yet.

    Not even Oracle has had the balls to pull this kind of price hike on their customers, the biggest one I've seen from them has been in the ~30% range.

    Red hat did something similar on their RHEL 6 last year increasing the price of the product by upwards of 260% for quad socket, and likely 300-500%+ more for 8-socket (Red hat doesn't even list pricing for higher than quad socket, and they used to have a product that supported "unlimited" sockets). Sticker shock going from $2500/system to $6500/system is not nearly as bad as this move from VMware of course, percentage wise it's bad but your still talking about a fraction of the cost of the hardware, vs VMware your talking about the hardware being a fraction of the cost of the software in many cases.

    There isn't anything that I have seen that would justify the price increase, if you really need to scale _that_ high for I/O and CPU cores just run it on physical hardware. A million IOPS is roughly the equivalent of what - 4,000 15k RPM disk drives(assuming a highly efficient system)? Being able to drive a million IOPS - or even half a million IOPS from a single host is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Just look at how VMware tested vSphere 4's (or was it 3, I forgot) I/O using SSDs a couple of years back, they had to use 3 EMC storage arrays connected to a single server to test with in order to drive that amount of I/O.

    as a vmware customer/user for the past 12 years (since before 1.0), consider me disappointed by this move, and sad.

    I just hope that they preserve vSphere 4 pricing for the vSphere 4 product line for the lifetime of the product. vSphere 4 is more than capable enough to run practically anything out there. There are indications that you can upgrade/downgrade licensing between vSphere 5, 4 and even 3.

    who said there's not inflation in this (U.S.) economy?

    *big sigh*

  3. patters
    Thumb Down

    Gun to the head

    So all my hypervisors have 48GB of RAM and I'm licenced for vSphere 4 Enterprise. Now I'll have to 'upgrade' to Enterprise Plus. Having made the case to virtualize on the basis it would save my employers money I'm now going to look like a complete twunt by asking for huge sums of extra money we don't have budgeted. Wonderful.

    1. Joe Montana

      Gun to the head...

      The problem was going with vmware in the first place... Now your stuck with a company that's heading for a downward spiral and wants to screw as much out of people now as it can before it loses the chance....

      Vmware won't be able to compete with hyper-v, xen and kvm long term... MS will nodoubt play dirty, while linux/bsd users will choose a platform that actually supports them properly, and all of the competitors are free or bundled with products the customers are likely to already have bought.

      1. patters

        easy to switch

        Well I chose VMware when Hyper-V still couldn't do live migration of VMs so it was ahead on features. That difference has narrowed. I get academic pricing which is not that much of a discount for VMware, but a HUGE discount for Microsoft. Since it's trivial to convert a vmdk set between the formats I think VMware are playing with fire here. I can easily eject the SD card from one of my ESXi hosts and test out Hyper-V, safe in the knowledge that I can put everything back simply by swapping the SD card. They may end up hoist by their own petard.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        There is one stalking horse here which you missed.

        Cisco does accelerated networking using their "special" cards only under vmware.

        So unless their competitors come up with similar cards and most importantly software to support them in Xen, Kvm , etc none of these will get even close to the ratios of Bandwidth to CPU Load achievable on UCS+Vmware.

        That is neither in the queue, nor is forthcoming any time soon from any of their competitors.

        In fact, with Xen's network architecture (or lack of), there is no way in hell it will be forthcoming any time soon. This by the way includes any hopes on delivering anything in this area through Xen partnership with that particular Cisco competitor they are partnering with. That one is even less likely to deliver because the ratio of "Directors of Cloud Enablement" to "People who actually do work" in that Xen partner is something like 10:1 if not more.

        I can continue with a description of all usual suspects here, but they are no different.

        As long as the Cisco Vmware alliance lives and as long as Cisco ships UCS and people compare it on network performance to the other players Vmware will continue to exist and price whatever the hell it likes. It will take more than pricing to displace it.

    2. James Turner

      Re: Gun to the head

      Are you actually maxing out the ram on all your hosts? As long as your VMs are collectively using less than 32GB x number of CPU sockets, your licences are good. If you're just over, you might be better buying a few additional Enterprise to get additional licences than upgrading to Enterprise Plus

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It appears reading is not a strong suit amongst El Reg "readers"

      The article and VMs docs clearly state that the memory costs is based on a per socket license (in the same way as vSphere 4 currently id).

      So, in your case, Mr/Ms patters: that you have 48GB of RAM in your hosts is rather less than relevant. What is relevant is the amount of RAM you allocate to your VMs vs the amount of each type of license you have bought.

      So, if you upgraded to version 5 (which you won't be forced to do for some time yet) and kept at the enterprise level you would be licensed for 32GB or VM RAM per license.

      I will make some assumptions here - firstly your servers will not be single socket, if they are then your twuntness will be unaffected by any extra money you ask for. Realistically you will have at least 2 sockets each, (probably 4 but hey, lets go 2) which means you would already be licensed for 64GB of vRAM per server.

      OK, you may be running lots of VMs, but with only 2 CPU sockets and 48GB of RAM I suggest not that many, although any estimate of actual numbers would be a meaningless stab in the dark but in real terms you would already be licensed for say, 5 VMs with 4GB RAM, 2 VMs with 8GB RAM 10 VMs with 2GB RAM and 8 VMs with 1GB RAM or any combination that adds up to 64GB.

      Which seems plenty VMs for a host of that spec, it gives a RAM overcommitment of 150% which seams decent enough. If you wanted to run many more VMs then you would need to add a couple more processors (which would bring your memory allowance to 128GB ) and some more RAM anyway.

      Give us your host / VM specs and we can tell you how much extra you would have to buy to remain compliant (hint: no-one is forcing you to upgrade to v5 so the answer will always be "nothing")

      1. segfaultcoredump

        We can read

        Who runs vmware on such a small box?

        We are getting Dell R800's: Two 10 core cpu's and 512 GB of ram. That gives us 20 real cores and 40 from a scheduling perspective. We rarely need CPU, so you can oversubscribe the crap out of it. What we need is memory.

        With 4.x we needed 2 Enterprise Plus licenses. Now we need 10. a 500% increase so that the cost of the license is now significantly more than the hardware.

        Had vmware made the vRAM cap a bit more in line with the current cpu to memory ratios of servers (say 128 for Enterprise, 256 for Enterprise Plus) nobody would be complaining. Instead they set it to the cpu to memory ratios of hardware from 4 years ago.

      2. John Sanders

        Dear Lee and VMWARE...

        We wish you death by Linux, the same Linux you try now to hide on ESXi. In fact I'm certain of that fate.

    4. Russ.T.Starfish

      Business case

      If your original case was sound, then quite simply write another business case with a road map showing the cost of moving to V5, and tell them not to do it, if it is more costly to them. Keep up your maintenance on V4 licences and you're good to go. No One is forcing you to upgrade your entire infrastructure to V5.

    5. InsaneGeek

      No you aren't going to look like a complete twunt

      That is unless you go running around making a big scare about it to management, and then later have to look like an idiot.

      You said each of your hypervisors have 48GB of RAM in them so having to buy more licenses would make you look bad, however having more license capacity probably wouldn't make you look bad.

      An ESX server has a minimum requirement of 2x CPU's (it's base requirement), so taking the absolute worst case situation and you have a two socket CPU configuration you are covered. With the Enterprise license you have 32GB of vram per CPU, since you already have to have 2x CPU's per server by basic requirement you are already have a minimum of 2x Enterprise CPU licenses which give 64GB of RAM per server which is more RAM than you have stated you have in your hypervisor (48GB). In fact you could have just the essential edition and still be covered (24GB/CPU * 2x CPU = 48GB)

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Hello Hyper-V! It may not be as good but at least we won't need a tube of lube to buy it

  5. GrumpyJoe

    I thought virtualisation

    was supposed to simplify server usage? Looking at the bumf that Amazon puff out of their cloud (options/levels/T.L.A. moniker'd services) - I'd much rather just, you know, BUY A SERVER and run the bugger - that's now the simpler option (for the small guy). Enterprise? Well, more money than sense I suppose.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    On the nature of twuntness?

    "Having made the case to virtualize on the basis it would save my employers money I'm now going to look like a complete twunt by asking for huge sums of extra money we don't have budgeted."

    See, the thing is, anyone who puts all their employers eggs in one basket IS a complete twunt. That's true whether the basket is Oracle, VMware, IBM, Microsoft or whoever.

    The future is hard to predict, but drug dealer/vendor behaviour isn't - sell cheap till you got them locked in, then bump up the price.

  7. joshuajamie
    Thumb Down

    Allocated RAM per VM or actual usage?

    I'm confused, say my vSphere environment has 10 virtual machines each with 2GB of vRAM for simplicity. Each VM is only using 50% of its vRAM.

    In the new licensing model am I using 20GB from the vRAMpool or 10GB? Nonsense nonsense nonsense!

    Application providers that demand 32GB+ of RAM for a VM are bad enough as it is, with v5 they will be expensive too!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      20GB - the licensed RAM appears to be per allocated vRAM, not used vRAM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Overcommit is not your friend now...

        20Gb is the right answer. With the way shared memory was working before, if you had say 10 systems at 2Gb each, the chances were you could fit that in <16Gb of memory as various wired pages would be shared. However in the new model this is counted as 20Gb vRAM even if its less physical RAM. Gah my head is spinning trying to work out our model

  8. George 24

    VMware is paving the way

    for hyper-v. M$ must be pinching themselves. Hyper-v may not be as good yet, but of VMware becomes money hungry, M$ could catch up.

  9. Janko Hrasko

    Corporate onslaught or what?

    ProXmoX is free and supports KVM AND OpenVZ, so why would I still want to use VMware? This company's pricing structure is a joke.

    Carry on like this VMware and you will be left in the dust.

  10. ledmil
    Paris Hilton

    That's gonna hurt


    so a dual socket server with 144GB RAM will now have to be licened for an additional socket for the right to upgrade to vSphere 5 (which we are technically playing maintance for already). It was bad enough with the Enterprise -> Enterprise Plus shafting from ESX3.5 and vSphere 4.

    When you add their inability to co-term support contracts it all gets rather frustrating.

    Hyper-V is going to have to look interesting soon, VMWare seem to have lost the plot.

    Paris because.....Well VMWare seem to love shafting their customers

  11. Anonymous Coward


    I love Virtualisation and the VMware products, but comon, I can see now that VMware thinks they have a large market place in the virtulisation world, they think they can do whatever they like. if you are charging a lot of money and make licencing complicated, whats stopping people moving to Xen Server, or if satying in the physical world. companies wants to save money and if they start to get charged mor eon licencing, they might be better of using other virtulisation product, which are a lot less and are able to provide similar service. What I see here is that VMware saying I am big and can do wahtever I like, it means market dominaring and arrogance.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    PR disaster ahoy!

    Thanks for placing this story on the front page.

    I hope the reg will continue to cover this until Vmware realise what a massive mistake they have made.

    I have seen quite a few mis-judged licensing changes in my time as an IT consultant but this ranks up there with the attempt citrix made to do similar a few years back.

    It would come as no shock to anyone here if the parent EMC have had a hand I'm this as it smacks of sharp practice and is not in line with previous vmware commercial culture.

    WhoEver in vmware signed this change off needs to be immediately fired and someone appointed to perform damage limitation before, it gets out of hand.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    VMware = Novell?

    I really love the products. I've worked on Hyper-V, Xen and VMware, and it blows the socks off the rest. From a technical perspective, at least.

    Pricing will be the death of it. While it's possible to argue vSphere's superior VM density etc etc (*insert pre-sales spiel*), the high pricing was always tricky. So instead of simplifying it and making it cheaper, they've increased the complexity (making it less transparent to a prospective customer) and possibly more expensive in many scenarios.

    I really hope they don't become another Novell. NetWare was a great product, destined for irrelevence by Novell's lack of understanding the market. VMware may be going down a similar path. I hope they learn before they too end up a division of Attachmate.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Hello Red Hat Virtualization

    Bye bye VMware, hello Red Hat KVM

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    One of the nice things about VMware used to be how simple the licensing model was. So much for that.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Doing our calculation...

    Right now we have 40 E+ licenses (40 sockets and a crap load of memory). Our overcommit on RAM is horrendous (-ly good). Under the new model that looks like we are going to have to go to approx 100-125 E+ licenses, just so we can up the vRAM pool to meet our overcommit model.

    (Its a bit vague right now as we ramp up and down a lot of machines quickly - 1000+ in the course of some nights. With our model we would need about 40 E+ licenses to handle stead state, and then about 65-70 E+ to cover the periodic ramp up alone).

  17. Levente Szileszky

    It's a classic (d!ck) EMC move, what's the news? Pay up or switch platforms... Hyper-V - a LOT cheaper - or the even better upcoming XenServer 6 (beta is available) with full of new features including vSphere management support:

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before you all panic

    Read this:

    There will be a tool coming soon to help you evaluate your vRAM pool.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on guys, be reasonable

    Joe Tucci is retiring soon. He needs some extra bucks for those long, arduous years ahead as a pensioner...

  20. Anonymous Coward

    VMware :-):-):-)

    Just to let you know, I was thinking of hiring a financial person to sort out my licensing because it gets so complicated I thought I needed help... I used to be able to advice my customer to say licensing simplicity...

    oooohhhhhh :-D:-D:-D better thought of something else decided not to hire instead I recommend my customers Xen Server and Microsoft Hyper-V, or better use Red Hat KVM, a lot cheaper and they will be better off, consider those options because how cheap the memory is now...

    Advice to VMware:

    Stop being sooooo Arrogant that might work in other industries but arrogance in IT world will not work why because there are options and would recommend you the follow KISS practise.

    IT industry is for saving money and this industry is made you what you are now because they loved your simplicity. if you don’t get a grip with and understand that think again, and never assume you are the biggest in the world... If you keep continue the way you are at the moment make the most of it because, you now have another 3 years MAX in the virtualisation market...

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Manage your Memory

    You can play VMware at their own game. Virtualiosation administrators should get on top of their memory allocations take a look at what is actually being used and allocate what the machines need not what you think they need.

    Thats a great thing about virtualisation it lets you do that. The tools are there or maybe take a look at Xangati which will help a great deal.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    "VMware spent years gutting the microcode in the hypervisor to make VirtualSMP scale better."

    Please tell me that's a typo and this isn't loading custom microcode. Machinecode, maybe, assembler certainly, but microcode?

    Granted x86 processors have (mostly) had loadable microcode for a decade+, but that's very processor specific (down to the revision) and not publicly documented. I wouldn't want a product that loads firmware that didn't come from AMD or Intel.

  23. wuffers

    Take the vSphere 5 migration survey

    How do the new vRAM entitlements affect you?

    Please take 2 minutes of your time to fill out this vSphere 5 migration survey:

    We need more data! Results will be posted in the main vSphere 5 licensing thread over at VMTN:

    First round of results here:

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