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ESXi Licensing - what is needed to manage via vCenter?

Posted on 2010-08-24
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Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Seems to be a lot of confusion over vsphere licensing and I really wish they would simplify it.  I've seen the license matrix, but have been told different things by different vendors.  I work in an environment that manages both production and numerous independent development departments.  These development departments typically only need a single beefy ESXi server with internal storage, but we want to manage that server via vCenter to give us a single pane of management into the entire vmware environment.  Considering that these are separate entities using only a single server with internal storage and no need for advanced features, what is the lowest level of vsphere license that they need to purchase to have their system managed via vcenter?

Thanks!
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Question by:dkraut
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by:bgoering
ID: 33513983
The lowest level would be the vSphere essentials package. This package will only manage 3 ESX or ESXi hosts. You would need a seperate essential license for each three host you want to manage, as well as a seperate vCenter server install for each set of three hosts. This could be the least expensive if you have few hosts to manage.

A step up is Standard - that is licensed by cpu sockets being managed, and there is not a limit of the number of hosts.

Hope this helps
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33514053
Essentials...it's $495; but, it would be its own infrastructure. You're allowed vCenter (this would be a separate instance) and 3 hosts. Licensing is most certainly a bit tricky. I'm in total agreement with you on hoping they make it easier soon!

What have resellers told you about incorporation into your current infrastructure?

Regards,
~coolsport00
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by:dkraut
ID: 33517823
We were told "Standard" is what we needed and that some level of annual support was also required.  This may be true based on what you guys are saying.  If we want to manage all our ESX Hosts from our current vcenter environment/server, it sounds like Essentials will not work?  We have around 20 ESX/ESxi hosts total, some datacenters are clustered with SAN, DRS, vmotion, etc. and and have Enterprise licensing, but most are single server datacenters with only internal storage.  We only want a single vcenter server in the mix and want to be able to manage "all" Hosts from that single vcenter server.
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by:bgoering
ID: 33517852
I understand what you are saying, but unfortunately if you have enterprise level licensing for some hosts, you will need enterprise level licensing for all the processors you want to manage. Enterprise is much more expensive than standard. What you might do as a compromize is set up another vCenter server with standard licensing as a linked vcenter server and assign all the standard licensed servers to that vCenter server.

While you will have two vCenter server installations - they could all still be managed from a single vSphere Client.

Take a look at http://pubs.vmware.com/vsp40_e/wwhelp/wwhimpl/js/html/wwhelp.htm#href=admin/c_using_vcenter_server_in_linked_mode.html for more information on Linked Mode.

Let me know if this is a situation that might work for you.
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33520057
Yeah...that's what I thought. Since you have an infrastructure in place, you can't pay a slight cost (Essentials) and add that to what you have. It's a pickle to be sure. I'm thinking you can still get Essentials, but you'll just have 2 vCenters. Unfortunately, there's just no other way around VMware's licensing scheme. :(

Regards,
~coolsport00
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Author Comment

by:dkraut
ID: 33522775
So now you guys have me really confused.  :)

I'm looking at our vcenter server now and we are currently managing a variety of licensing on the same vcenter server?

Under licensing I see ESX Foundation, ESX Standard, vSphere Enterprise and vSphere Standard.  
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bgoering earned 250 total points
ID: 33523239
Looking at my Licensing portal it appears you may be correct, it shows vCenter Server 4 Standard, and vSphere 4 Enterprise. Seems like that may be a change from 3.x, pretty sure old licensing was both Enterprise, but when upgraded licenses from VI3 to 4 that is how they converted.

Try to add your Free ESXi hosts to what you have and see if it takes it. vCenter Server Standard has no limit on the number of hosts it will manage. Wish VMware would be a little more consistent version to version - something I can complain about next week at VMworld!

I will spin up a Free ESXi and try to add to my infrastructure after lunch if you don't confirm by then.

Good Luck
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by:coolsport00
coolsport00 earned 250 total points
ID: 33527114
I believe you are correct "bgoering"...vCenter (previously virtual center)...did come in either Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise. Gosh, that seems so long ago (pre-vSphere), doesn't it?! :) Yeah, I wonder what they'll say......are ya making a list? :)

~coolsport00
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by:bgoering
ID: 33527143
Naw - just keeping list in my head so am sure to forget some things lol

Sorry got stuck in some meetings and never got around to spinning up a free esxi - may do that tomorrow.
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by:bgoering
ID: 33527148
And yes - before converting licenses I had Virtual Center Server 2.5 Enterprise...wonder if that was waste of money :)
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by:coolsport00
ID: 33527153
Probably was; I only had Std (still do) and never needed anything higher; have Ent for ESX though.
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by:dkraut
ID: 33676517
Still unclear, but A for effort
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