VMware’s new approach to licensing has brought on quite a bit of commentary in the virtualization community. People are discussing it on Twitter, in other blogs and over the phone. It’s being discussed in podcasts and whenever virtualization administrators get together. There are several talking points, and they seem to be mostly FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), or lack of knowledge.
Here are the main discussion points:
- VMware should be allowed to make money
- SMBs want everything for free
- VMware vSphere is more expensive than Hyper-V or Xen
- Those at Enterprise license levels are no longer at the top of the license tree
- Enterprise Licensing is disappearing and there will be a forced upgrade to Enterprise Plus
- The forced upgrade is timed to correspond to the termination of the most Support and Service (SnS) contracts
- There is no upgrade path from Essentials to the more advanced license levels without repurchasing
- VMware does not understand the SMB
Most of the above is FUD, but there are grains of truth to every bit of FUD out there.
VMware is a company that is there to make money so it charges for its products, as do the other vendors. Make no mistake, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for any virtualization product is NOT zero — from any vendor. They all are there to make money, either now, or in the future. So when talking about TCO you need to look at the immediate costs, such as:
- The cost of virtualization management
- The cost of operating system upgrades
- The cost of possibly replacing existing virtual environment software and licenses
- The cost associated with training and certification
- The cost of support
- and more
All companies are there to make money, but how they do it may not be immediately obvious.
VMware has a new level of licensing, but is it really new? They will expire the current Enterprise License by the end of the year and only offer the new Enterprise Plus license. There will be a cost to upgrade from current Enterprise licenses to the new highest level, but that only happens if you need those features or need to renew your SnS.
The SMB does not want everything for free, but it does want a clearly defined upgrade path. In addition, most SMBs do not mind spending the appropriate monies, although they may not purchase everything at once. They may buy in stages or a la carte instead.
Some SMBs and Enterprise customers may want VMotion, Fault Tolerance (FT) and High Availability (HA) but nothing else. This is basically what’s in the Advanced package, but if a business already has Standard, HA and VMotion, can it easily upgrade to get FT?
Is the new licensing confusing? I think so.
What can VMware do about it? Make licensing simpler or easier to understand for its customers.
How can VMware do this? Solve the problems already brought up by customers.
What should you do as the customer? Until May 21st, you need to go to http://www.vmware.com/account/index.do, click on the Manage Support Contracts link and verify that your current Service and Support contracts are still valid and available. If they are not, get on the phone with VMware and solve the problem. Your SnS must be up-to-date as of the 21st in order for VMware to automatically upgrade your VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) licenses to vSphere 4 licenses. If your SnS is not up to date, has expired, or does not exist for some reason, you will need to renew in order to get the automatic upgrade from VI3 to vSphere. Since the license manager is disappearing in vSphere 4, new license keys must be issued.
VMware has some homework to do, so do the customers. Grades will be issued to everyone based on the ease of receiving and purchasing the upgraded licenses.