VMware takes aim at foot, hopes to shoot competition

Or something. News of the new vSphere 5 pricing guide has leaked out. Kind of like the NetFlix announcement, it has raised a lot of ire on the part of their customers. As would be expected when your preferred vendor announces you'll be paying a lot more.

The key problem has to do with how they're changing the licensing model for vSphere. We knew they'd change it, we just didn't know if they were going to put DRS and HA into a new Enterprise Plus Ultra tier, or do something else. They did something else.

With vSphere 4 the licensing tiers were based on the processor socket, number of cores, and desired features. If you had over 6 cores on that processor, you needed Enterprise Plus to use them all. If you had 6 or fewer, you could go with one of the three cheaper options.

With vSphere 5 the licensing tiers are now based on a combination of processor socket and RAM (as well as features). A 2-core socket counts as much as a 12-core socket in this scheme (yay). Unfortunately, if that dual-socket 12-core server has 256GB of RAM in it, you'll be paying for 6 Enterprise Plus licenses and not the 2 you were paying under vSphere 4. Also? The prices for Enterprise Plus haven't changed, so you just tripled your licensing costs.

vSphere 4's licensing model encouraged cramming as much RAM into a single server as possible. 12-core CPUs and buckets and buckets of RAM. And this happened, since cheaper is always good, and most VM environments are more RAM constrained than CPU constrained. With pricing per socket and not per core, you could maintain efficient RAM-to-Core ratios with licensing efficiency to boot.

vSphere 5's licensing model encourages servers with much fewer cores and a lot less RAM. Keeping a good RAM-to-Core ratio will involve a lot more physical hosts if you wish to maintain licensing efficiency. And you simply won't be able to reach the heights of efficiency you could with vSphere 4.

This is going to be expensive. We'll see if the industry moves as a whole to something else, I'm sure Citrix is salivating at the thought of upgraders upgrading to XenServer and not vSphere, or lumps it and just starts resenting the hell out of VMware the way they already resent (but still use) Oracle.