What’s New in Licensing

License Keys

With the release of VMware vSphere 4, VMware introduced a fully redesigned licensing experience. The key improvements and enhancements in VMware licensing are as follows:

  • License keys are simple 25-character strings instead of complex text files.
  • License administration is built directly into VMware vCenter Server. There is no separate license server which must be installed and monitored.
  • Customers receive only one single license key for a given edition (e.g. Advanced). There are no separate license keys for advanced features, such as VMware vMotion.
  • The same license key can be used on many VMware ESX hosts. Each license key encodes a CPU quantity which determines the total number of ESX hosts that can use the license key.
  • It is no longer using the VMware Infrastructure 3 licensing server or licensing model.

Upgrading to VMware vSphere 4 License Keys

You must obtain new licenses to deploy VMware vSphere 4. Your existing VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses will not work on VMware ESX 4 or VMware vCenter Server 4. Read the VMware vSphere 4 licensing guide for instructions on how to activate your new VMware ESX 4 and VMware vCenter Server 4 license keys.

Delivery of VMware vSphere 4 Licenses

If you have licenses of VMware Infrastructure 3.x or VMware vCenter Server 2.x with active support and subscription, VMware will deliver your new VMware vSphere 4 and VMware vCenter Server 4 license keys. You do not need to request your new license keys, and there will be no activation codes to turn in.

For every active support and subscription contract with an end date on or after the day VMware vSphere 4 becomes generally available, customers will receive their equivalent vSphere 4 and/or vCenter Server 4 licenses.These can be found in the new VMware vSphere license portal.

NOTE:VMware vSphere 4 licenses are sold in 1-CPU increments whereas VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses were sold in 2-CPU increments. The diagram below shows an example of the license counts and how they map.

VMware vSphere 4 license counts

The delivery of VMware vSphere 4 license keys does not affect access to your VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses. The current and new license portals will contain licenses for both versions, however your total number of licenses available for deployment will not increase. As an example, if you have 12 CPUs (6 licenses x 2 CPUs) of VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard, you will receive 12 CPUs (12 licenses x 1 CPU) of VMware vSphere 4 Standard. The total number of CPUs (VMware Infrastructure 3.x + VMware vSphere 4) you can deploy is 12. Therefore, if you deploy 4 CPUs of VMware vSphere 4, the maximum amount of VMware Infrastructure 3.x you can legally deploy will be 8.

Expected Timeframe to Receive Your vSphere 4 License Keys

For most customers, your vSphere 4 keys will be automatically delivered and available in the new licensing portal shortly after vSphere 4 becomes generally available.

Certain combinations of existing Support and Subscription contracts require additional processing and may result in later delivery of your vSphere 4 keys. If you are a customer affected by a potential delay, VMware will notify you shortly after vSphere 4 becomes generally available and then keep you informed via email on the status of your upgraded license keys. For questions about your licenses, choose one of our Support contact options.

Examples of contracts impacted by the above include:

  • Previous license upgrades (e.g., from VI3 Standard to VI3 Enterprise)
  • Separately purchased feature licenses (e.g., VMware vMotion)

Accessing Your Licenses

New vSphere/vCenter License Portal

Licenses for VMware vSphere 4 will be managed using the new vSphere/vCenter license portal. Your upgraded license keys will be automatically added to this portal after the subscription-based upgrades for your VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses have been processed. Future purchases of VMware vSphere 4 licenses will also be added to this portal.

Changes to the VI3 Licensing Portal

As a result of the new licensing model for VMware vSphere, the VI3 licensing portal will display quantities according to the new model. The license quantities displayed will be changed from license counts (where each license represents 2 CPUs) to single CPU counts. This means most of the numbers you see will be doubled from the numbers displayed in the past. Licenses which are not counted in CPUs (e.g., VMware vCenter Server instances) will not be affected by this change, and their counts will remain the same. Your actual license entitlement does not change.

Upgrade Eligibility

Licenses will be upgraded to the new version according to these rules:

  • Only licenses that have active support and subscription contracts as of the day when VMware vSphere 4 becomes generally available (in the following known as “the GA date”) will be upgraded. If subscription has expired or will expire prior to the GA date you will retain access to the VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses, but you will not receive new VMware vSphere 4 license keys.
  • If your support and subscription has expired prior to the GA date you can choose to reinstate it later. If you do so, you will receive your VMware vSphere 4 licenses at that time.
  • Licenses that have been upgraded to a higher edition (e.g. from Standard to Enterprise) will be treated as the higher edition (Enterprise). However, delivery of VMware vSphere 4 license keys requires that support and subscription is active on both the lower edition (Standard) as well as on the upgrade component.
  • Licenses for features that have been purchased separately (e.g. VMware vMotion) require a corresponding VMware Infrastructure 3.x edition (e.g. Standard) with which it can logically be combined. As with upgraded editions, the subscription on both components must be active.
  • Within the new licensing portal, upgraded license keys are visible to users that are designated to an authorized role on a support and subscription contract. Contract roles include Primary License Administrator “PLA”, Secondary License Admistrator “SLA” and Support Administrator “SA”, and each role grants a specific level of access within the portal.
    NOTE:in some cases an individual may have previously registered VI3 activation codes and will therefore have an assigned role of “Registered User” for those licenses. In the new licensing portal, these Registered Users will not have access to the upgraded vSphere 4 license keys unless they are also designated to an authorized contract role (e.g., PLA, SLA, SA).

Entitlement Mapping

The following tables explain how your VMware Infrastructure 3.x licenses will be mapped to VMware vSphere 4.

Edition Licenses:

VMware Infrastructure 3.x license VMware vSphere 4 license
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Enterprise VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard VMware vSphere 4 Standard
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Foundation VMware vSphere 4 Standard
VMware vCenter Server 2.x VMware vCenter Server 4 Standard
VMware vCenter Foundation 2.x VMware vCenter Server 4 Foundation
VMware ESXi Management Kit VMware vSphere 4 Essentials

 

Acceleration Kits:

For the purpose of version upgrades, licenses which were originally purchased as part of an acceleration kit will be treated as individual products (e.g., VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard). The upgrade path for these individual products can be found in the table above, as noted for Edition Licenses. For the purpose of support renewals, Acceleration Kit support will continue to be based on the original Acceleration Kit even after a vSphere version upgrade.

Upgraded Edition Licenses:

VMware Infrastructure 3.x license VMware vSphere 4 license
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard & upgrade to Enterprise VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Foundation & upgrade to Enterprise VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Foundation & upgrade to Standard VMware vSphere 4 Standard
VMware vCenter Foundation 2.x & upgrade to VMware vCenter Server VMware vCenter Server 4 Standard

 

Feature Licenses Purchased Separately:

In the vSphere licensing model, features cannot be licensed separately. However it is possible to add features onto an edition license. This add-on is fixed, which means it is done by VMware at the time of license delivery and the feature cannot be separated from the edition at a later stage.

VMware Infrastructure 3.x license VMware vSphere 4 license Notes
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard & VMware vMotion VMware vSphere 4 Standard + VMware vMotion + Storage VMware vMotion This entitlement is represented as a single vSphere license key
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Foundation & VMware vMotion VMware vSphere 4 Standard + VMware vMotion + Storage VMware vMotion This entitlement is represented as a single vSphere license key
VMware High Availability (HA) Included in VMware vSphere 4 Standard and above Since all relevant vSphere editions include the HA feature, these licenses are not upgraded separately.
VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) Included in all VMware vSphere editions VCB is replaced by the vStorage API in which is included in all relevant vSphere editions, thus. VCB licenses are not upgraded separately.
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard & VMware vMotion & VMware DRS VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise Since the Enterprise edition includes VMware and vMotion, you will receive a single Enterprise license, instead of a license for each.
VMware Infrastructure 3.x Standard & VMware vMotion & “no VMware vMotion” upgrade to Enterprise VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise You will receive a single Enterprise license, instead of a license for each.

 

Preparing for Your License Upgrade

In order to ensure a problem-free license upgrade, VMware requests your cooperation in verifying that your license and subscription data is correct. Please take the time to review your account and contact Support if the information is not consistent with your expectation. If corrections are needed it is preferable to make them prior to the delivery of your VMware vSphere 4 licenses.

1. Check Your VMware Infrastructure Licenses

Log-in to your VMware Infrastructure 3.x License Portal and review the “# Purchased” quantity for all VMware Infrastructure 3.x and VMware vCenter licenses (example shown below). Assuming the subscription on the licenses will be active as of the date that VMware vSphere 4 is generally available, these quantities correspond to the quantities of VMware vSphere 4 licenses you will receive.

VMware Infrastructure 3.x License Portal

2. Review Your Support Contracts

Go to the VMware Support Contracts Portal and, using the same login, review your support contracts. The quantity of licenses listed on those contracts should match the quantities you see in the license portal, subject to the eligibility rules noted above. In this view, review the status and end dates of all contract lines that contain “ESX 3.x” or “vCenter Server 2.x.” If some contracts are expired or have an end date earlier than 21 May 2009, you may not receive your new VMware vSphere 4 licenses for the quantities on those contracts. To request a renewal or reinstatement of contracts, use the contract renewal web form.

VMware Support Contracts Portal

3. Verify Your Role

Go to the VMware Support Contracts Portal and, using the same login, verify your role on each of the contracts by going to the Administrators tab. The primary contact for license upgrade notification, etc. will be the primary license admin (PLA) on each contract. However, secondary license admins (SLA) and support admins (SA) on the contracts will also have access to the upgraded licenses via the portal. The PLA on each contract has the ability to add, remove, and edit the SLAs and SAs on the contract (via the interface shown below). Verify that the appropriate individuals are designated as SLA and/or SA on your contracts, and make changes as necessary.

VMware Support Contracts Administrators Portal

Version Downgrade

Converting vSphere Licenses to VI3 – “Downgrades”

If you have purchased VMware vSphere 4 licenses and wish to convert some or all of them to increase your available VMware Infrastructure 3 licenses, you may downgrade the desired number of the licenses on the vSphere license portal.

Once you have completed the downgrade request, you will be able to access your newly generated VI3 license information in the VI3 License Portal.

For example, you purchased 20 CPUs of vSphere 4 Advanced and need to run 10 CPUs of VI3. You may perform a downgrade to 10 CPUs of VI3 Standard using the vSphere Licensing Portal. You will then be able to access 10 additional CPUs in the VI3 Licensing Portal. Please note your total entitlement will not change. In other words, you may deploy no more than 20 CPUs in total, but can mix and match between vSphere 4 and VI3.

Not all vSphere products are downgradable. Please see the downgrade options table (below) for specific mappings. Please also note that vMotion functionality is ONLY available for licenses downgraded from vSphere 4 Enterprise and vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus.

Downgrade Options:

VMware vSphere 4 SKU VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) SKU
ESXi 4 Single Server Not downgradable
vSphere 4 Essentials (Plus) Not downgradable
vSphere 4 Standard VI3 Standard
vSphere 4 Advanced VI3 Standard
vSphere 4 Enterprise VI3 Enterprise
vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus VI3 Enterprise
vCenter Server Standard VirtualCenter Server
vCenter Server Foundation VirtualCenter Foundation

 

Downgrade Process via vSphere/vCenter License Portal

  1. Log in to the vSphere License portal
  2. Select the downgrade link
  3. Select vSphere order number(s) to be downgraded – only whole orders can be downgraded
  4. After approx. 30 minutes, additional license quantity is added to VI3 license portal
  5. Licenses displayed on vSphere/vCenter portal will not be decreased or affected

Reason You May Need to Convert vSphere 4 licenses to VI3

In some cases, the only way to obtain new VI3 licenses now that vSphere 4 has been released is to purchase vSphere 4 licenses and convert them to VI3 licenses by downgrading them on the vSphere License portal.

Obtaining New VI3 Keys

How to Obtain VI3 License Keys Now that vSphere has Been Released

Only vSphere SKUs are available for purchase. However, if you wish to deploy additional VI3 licenses, you can purchase vSphere and “downgrade” the licenses on the vSphere License Portal. The downgrade will add additional VI3 license quantities to your VI3 portal – and as in the upgrade case, you will have access to both versions simultaneously and must manage compliance accordingly. Licenses can only be upgraded or downgraded once.

vSphere Licensing Roles

VMware Support Contract FAQ explains what the different licensing administrator roles (PLA, SLA, and SA) mean.