What a WEEK!!! VMware didn’t let us down with all the buildup they made to their big launch on Tuesday. In the immortal words Chad Sakac – it was FACEMELTING AWESOMESAUCE. I mentioned a few of my favorite things about vSphere 5 on this blog post. The unfortunate side of the announcement was the reaction to VMware’s licensing change. There seems to be a ton of questions/comments and a lot of snide remarks !! Change is ALWAYS difficult but change is always inevitable. Especially in IT !! So here is my opinion on the change, and an idea as to why it was made. As my dad used to say, opinions are like….well you know…and everyone has one 🙂
If we think back a few years most organizations were looking at the benefits of virtualizing their application as a means to help cut down on all the capital expense associated to physical servers (servers, networking, power, cooling etc). Back then it was all about driving more VM’s inside a physical server. We learned early on that we always seem to run out of memory way before we ran out of other things like CPU and storage. This deficiency of memory spurred companies like Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM etc to develop server platforms that could scale more memory on a physical server and geared these new offerings towards customers going down the virtualization path. They would charge a premium for this feature by justifying to customers their ability to help drive VM density up, thus saving more money on not just server/networking ports but also on software licensing. Server prices went up, but no one really cared because they were saving money on things like hypervisor licensing as well as all the benefits of reducing physical servers.
If we take VMware as an example, they are still developing a lot of great tools/features in their vSphere line but could potentially see a big reduction in the number of licenses sold because these server manufactures are driving memory and CPU density through the roof (Scale Up). It was just a few years ago that the largest amount of memory you could get on a server was 64GB and today you can get well over 300GB on a blade. There is also this big push towards a utility/consumption model. While not everyone wants to go there right away, there are some organizations that need to re-evaluate how software vendors licenses their applications/OS’s.
In my opinion VMware is simply doing what they have to do to help drive revenue and continue their spectacular innovations. I don’t think VMware is evil, nor do I think they are out to get their unfair share of money. They are simply trying to adapt to the current way people are doing business.
I always like to use the analogy of Golf when describing changes and motivations. Sometimes in golf you are presented with an opportunity to use the rules to your advantage. In other words, you are presented two different ways to do something and we take that moment to figure out which ones works to our advantage and we typically move forward with that one. That’s not different in IT. We recognize that we can buy servers with tonz of memory, which we can use to help drive up our VM density thus cutting down on licenses and software maintenance so we do that. I’m sure as we start to better understand this licensing model we will adapt our buying habits to reflect the best way to maximize the value of our purchases. That might mean changing our architecture to fit this new model.
I would really really really encourage you to read these 2 things before you figure out how this will impact you. The first one goes into a little detail behind the reason for the change, the other is a PowerCLI script you can run against your vCenter server that will produce a REALLY nice document that will give you an idea as to what sort of impact (good or bad) the move to the new license model will make.
Also, here are a couple of other noteable blog posts you should check out:
- Gabes Virtual World: vSphere 5 Licensing with vRAM isn’t that bad at all
- The Lone Sysadmin’s View: A look at VMware Licensing & Environment Growth
- Aaron Delp’s Scale Up with VMware vSphere 5: “I’m Not Dead Yet!”
Do not hesitate to reach out to your VMware account team, or the company you purchase your VMware licenses from if you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation.
Like I said, this is just my opinion based on the years I’ve been in the industry. On both sides of the table !!