license and vSphere

Experts, Need your help here.
We are planing install vSphere on 3 servers ( 2 Processor with 2 or 4 cores each cpu per server )
We will have same setup in another site, linking two sites not an important need for now, the 2nd site is only a for DR purpose.
Site One will replicate data or entire volume to the remote site and we are not planing for site to site recovery or vmortion as of now may be in future.

1. Could I start with one of below license and later upgrade to Enterprise or Enterprise plus ?
VMware vSphere Essentials
VMware vSphere Essentials for Retail and Branch Offices
VMware vSphere Essentials Plus
VMware vSphere Essentials Plus for Retail and Branch Offices ( it has most of the features with 3 hosts per site ).

2. Is vcenter standard server part of any version above and supports link mode ?

3. What are the real benefit going from Enterprise to Enterprise Plus, is it worth buying it ?
    * 12 Cores (6 in Enterprise)
    * unlimited memory (256 in Enterprise )
    * 8-way Virtual SMP ( 4-way Virtual SMP in Enterprise )
    * VMware vNetwork Distributed Switch
    * VMware Host Profiles
    * VMware vStorage APIs for Multipathing

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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
You cannot upgrade from Essentials to any higher version.  Essentials comes with Vcenter Foundation which only supports 3 ESX hosts, not sure if it will do linked mode but you can have two different vcenters, one at each site.

If you're going to use a product like Site Recovery Manager you'll need Enterprise Plus.  You can go with Enterprise if you have a SAN and would like HA/DRS, storage vmotion, etc..

If you don't have a SAN than Essentails Plus may do the trick because it does provide HA.

Host profiles are nice, they allow you to create a template of an ESX/ESXi host, The vDS are mostly for large environments where you can create the vswitch and manage it on the vCenter vs having to create on each host every time

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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Let me clarify, there is no upgrade skew from Essentials to a higher version, you will need to buy the new licensing outright.  The actual configuration can be configured with the new license keys once you have them
ThushyaAuthor Commented:
What about - keep buying the package to expand my new growth with VMware vSphere Essentials Plus ?
if i have 6 hosts, i will buy two time VMware vSphere Essentials Plus which will give me two vcenter and 6 hosts, do you see any problem not using Enterprise Plus here ?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
It depends on what you want to do, but yes buying two Essentials Plus licenses would work as long as you can ensure that you'll never go over 3 ESX hosts at each site ( you cannot stack them at the same site).

Enterprise Plus gives you the bells and whistles but for smaller environments it's not cost effective.  If you have a SAN and would like vmotion than Advanced is the minimum that you would need

If you buy any Essentials Pack you will have to buy Advanced, Standard, or Enterprise outright.  If you want upgrade capability you should go with Advanced at a minimum but that would require a per proc license and vCenter separately.  This will allow you to upgrade.

ThushyaAuthor Commented:
Are you sure that i am not eligible or i cannot upgrade any of essentials or essential plus to vSphere enterprise or enterprise plus license ? i am not clear here.

on the other hand, if i have 6 host in each site - can i buy 4 essentials package and enjoy 6 host on each site ? please explain here.

Thanks again.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
That is correct you cannot upgrad Essentials to any other version (cost wise no, infrastructure yes).  Basically you will not get any discount from owning essentials when and if you are going to a different version.

Each Essentials, Essentials Plus, etc.. comes with vCenter Foundation which means that you can only connect 3 ESX hosts.  If you purchase 2 Essential packages you two separate instances of vCenter each connecting 3 hosts.  You cannot add a license for a 4th host in that vCenter since 3 is your limit.
ThushyaAuthor Commented:
Thank you the professional responses.
ThushyaAuthor Commented:
Good follow-up .
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