01-01-04 vSphere and ESX Licensing

01-01-04 vSphere and ESX Licensing


In previous versions of ESX server like 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 there were two ways to license your ESX server. The two different modes of licensing were called: host-based and server-based.

There used to be license file (a file with .lic extension) that were supposed to installed on License server and VirtualCenter used to read the licenses off of that FLEX license server.


Well that is not the case anymore. Now, with vSphere there’s new way of licensing your ESX Servers and vCenter Server


Changes are significant and I think they’ve improved the licensing model. 


With the introduction of vSphere, VMware introduces a number of new licensing bundles.


We now have six editions of VMware vSphere:


VMware vSphere Essentials, Essentials Plus, Standard, Advanced, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus. Each of these six editions features a different combination of features and products included.


The new vSphere license server is great.  It integrates licensing into vCenter, and you use your vSphere client to configure and add licensing and separate Licensing Server is no longer required. 

Majority of the users out there use centralized licensing.  It’s not required, but most do because it’s easier to manage your licensing from one single point.

With ESX 4.1 we basically have serial key (one or more of them) that has all of our licensing for all of our ESX servers. So let’s say we have a eight-processor license.

Well, if we have two four-processor servers, then we’d tell each ESX server where vCenter Server is. And then the vCenter server License Server keeps track of how many processors are used total. And really in your real production environment, you’re probably going to use vCenter because it allows you to use all of the other fantastic tools that ESX server has to offer such as VMotion; HA – the High Availability component of ESX Server.

So, this is really what we’re going to use, but first, in case this is your first ESX Server, let’s go over host-based licensing.


To use host-based licensing we need to enter our license key during the ESX Server install procedure, ….or once it’s installed we can click on the Configuration tab, select Licensed Features and select Edit.

We can enter the license key we have in here to license that particular ESX server. When we do this licensing we actually put the license key that we received from VMware on the ESX server itself.

So if we have multiple ESX servers, each of them is going to have its own license key. And this license key tells the ESX server how many processors have been licensed. So if you’ve got a two-processor machine, you’re going to need a license key for two processors.

Now, if you have vCenter installed and all of your ESX Servers are connected to vCenter, you can have a single license that you configure inside the vSphere client, and that license is shared among all of your VMware ESX Servers


The other change is that now when you purchase vSphere license keys, you purchase them in a per-CPU socket increment. 


For example, with vSphere Standard and Enterprise, you get up to 6 cores per CPU socket, and with Advanced and Enterprise Plus, you get up to 12 cores per CPU socket, and then on top of that, vCenter 4 is still a separately purchased product, and it comes in 3 editions, Standard, Foundation and Essentials


License keys now are 25 characters instead of complex text files.  The license server, is built into vCenter, and you only have one license key for each edition of VMware vSphere; there are no feature keys like you had in VMware’s Virtual Infrastructure. 

The license keys have an encoded CPU quantity inside the key, so one key can unlock whatever level of vSphere you purchase, and for however many CPU sockets you purchased it for. 

VMware has moved away from licensing per pair of CPUs to licensing per CPU. With the advent of multicore processors, it’s far more common to see physical servers with only a single physical CPU. To reflect this trend, VMware is licensing vSphere on a per-CPU basis.

It makes licensing very simple and easy to use.  And you’ll see how to configure licensing later in the video series. 


 One exception is the vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus editions which are not licensed per CPU; these two editions are licensed for up to three physical servers. The cost for VMware vSphere Essentials is below $1000 and includes one year of subscription and optional support.


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