There has been quite a bit of commentary on the nature of the vSphere 4.0 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus licenses. Most people do not see why they should pay for the new license and really can’t understand why Enterprise is going away at the end of the year.
The big question is: What is the plus within Enterprise Plus? Where is the extra value? My thoughts on the distinction between the two levels percolated until the brew was right: Apart from the obvious, Enterprise Plus adds multipath plug-in support, host profiles, and the vNetwork Distributed Switch, all of which may or not be needed by the average virtual environment.
Host profiles provide a way to automate the creation of an ESX host from an existing configuration performed from within the vCenter Server. The configurations you can copy are limited to vCenter Server configurations, however. If you copy an ESX host using host profiles, it will not transfer security configurations such as isolation settings, hardening the service console/management appliance and other storage driver settings that are typically made outside of vCenter. For these tasks you will still need the automation and scripts you currently have, although they may have to be slightly modified for host profiles. Host profiles is also an enabling technology for the vNetwork Distributed Switch. You can not use the switch without using host profiles.
The VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch allows for better virtual network integration across vSphere 4 ESX hosts – but you get that with Host Profiles and your existing automation scripts. So what is so special about this virtual switch? It is a container of virtual switches and provides a higher level of management. In addition, it enables the use of the vSphere 4.0 Cisco switch, the Cisco Nexus 1000V. Once more, the vNetwork Distributed Switch is an enabling technology.
The last item that puts the plus in Enterprise Plus is multipath plug-in support. By itself, this functionality only gives you the ability to use a third-party multipathing tool such as EMC’s PowerPath. I fully expect that HP and other SAN makers will add their own tools into the mix. This is a big win for those with EMC SANs who can use EMC’s PowerPath, but at the same time, multi-path plug-in support by itself is just an enabling technology.
So the final equation is really:
Enterprise + Enabling Technologies for Third Party Integration = Enterprise Plus.
Now if VMware would provide something akin to the current Enterprise level without the extra enabling technologies that would be great, because in most environments the Plus will not be of much use. Customers want Distributed Power Management, Distributed Resource Scheduler and Storage VMotion in addition to what the Advanced license would get them. They do not need enabling technologies for products they may never buy, and yes PowerPath and the Nexus 1000V cost monies. Host profiles and vNetwork Distributed Switch are beneficial unto themselves but are not necessary for the proper management of an enterprise virtual environment. I can use existing scripts and tools to do the exact same thing.
So yes, Enterprise Plus provides extra value, but the question remains: Does it give enough value?