Virtualization Pro

May 20 2009   4:59PM GMT

The Plus in vSphere 4.0 Enterprise Plus licensing: Percolating thoughts

Texiwill Edward Haletky Profile: Texiwill

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?

3  Comments on this Post

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  • vanzylw
    Additionally you get 12-core per processor support, 8-way vSMP and > 256GB memory per host in Enterprise Plus and only 6-core per processor support, 4-way vSMP and 256GB max memory per host in Enterprise.
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  • OmarSultan
    Edward: As always, customers need to make their own choices and understand the ROI on a particular spending decision, so the Nexus 1000V is far from a panacea, but I also think it is unfair to say that the N1KV and vDS are "not necessary for the proper management of their enterprise virtual environment". Perhaps, if their virtual server environment as reached a steady state they are happy with, and, like you, they have the skills, background, and time to author scripts and manage the integration of multiple tools it might be a true statement. However, guidance from our customers would indicate that this is not true for most of them. They want to virtualize more of their workloads and more types of workloads and they want to take better advantage of vMotion and features like DRS, but the current environment acts as an inhibitor. Network Instruments just conducted a survey of 120 IT managers at InterOp, where 55% of the respondents said they were running into problems. Of that group, 27% noted lack of visibility to troubleshoot problems and 21% expressed concerns over security. This is consistent with the feedback we have been getting and is exactly the reason we joined forces with VMW to address the problem. So, I would offer the value of Enterprise Plus + Nexus 1000V is to virtualize more workloads and make more aggressive use of vMotion and related features such as DRS to drive faster and broader deployment of server consolidation and virtualization. This will reduce overall server infrastructure TCO through reduced CapEx (buy less servers) and OpEx (more efficient use of serves, less servers=lower power, cooling, rackspace, cabling). Regards, Omar Sultan Cisco
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  • Seal
    Omar With all due respect VMware threw a custard pie in cisco's face after working together on the networking piece. By overcomplicating the licensing and appearing to take its customers on a jolly, they effectively put nexus 1000v in the bin. Alot of existing customers are trying to reduce capital spend and are not likely to refresh hardware for new single processor servers which are also likely to be very costly. So existing customer may need to upgrade to the ent plus license at the end of their current SSN which would cost an extra $600 per socket so do the maths for a 4 processor server x 20 ESX hosts. For new customers there no complication they just won't bother because the initial outlay is too big and the uncertainity of the enterprise license just adds another spanner to the works. VMware ESX used to be an easy sell but its just become alot harder to sell. A potential customer who run an eval of VI3 has just developed cold feet when I presented the licensing to them and are now considering buying blades instead of VMware. Job well done VMware!
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