Lifecycle Policy

VMware will offer 7 years of support from the general availability of a new Major Release as per the Support and Subscription Terms and Conditions. Starting with vSphere 7, every numbered release will be a Major Release of vSphere represented by a change to the x.y version (e.g., vSphere 7.0>>8.0 or 7.0>>7.5)

Phase Phase Length Additional Policy Details
General Support 5 years During the General Support phase VMware offers support for new hardware and guest OS updates. VMware will update the VMware Compatibility Guide with new hardware platforms that have been tested and certified. General Support for selected new hardware technology (such as servers, processors, chipsets, and add-in cards) is based on VMware's discretion, OEM partner input, and customer input. An 18-month hardware support window is started when a major vSphere release is generally available. New hardware technology launched within the 18-month window will be supported in a compatible mode by an update to a vSphere major release; hardware technology launched after the 18-month window will normally not be supported by that release. VMware may introduce a new hardware version in a major, minor or an update release. Non-critical bug fixes are provided at VMware's discretion and based on customer input within the first two years of General Support.
Technical Guidance 2 years N/A


Infrastructure Support

Does VMware's Enterprise Infrastructure Life Cycle Policy apply to the whole VMware vSphere Software Suite as a bundle or apply to its individual products?

The VMware Enterprise Infrastructure Lifecycle Policy applies to the individual products. While Major releases of the vSphere products will normally occur together, the support lifecycle policy applies to the individual products, such as VMware ESXi and VMware vCenter Server. The lifecycle of a new release will begin from its release date for the respective product.

Does VMware provide different levels of support throughout the support life cycle?

Yes, the support lifecycle is divided into two phases, General Support and Technical Guidance, each offering different levels of support:. When a specific release has reached the end of the Technical Guidance phase, it is said to be at “end of support”.

How do I get critical fixes for my VMware ESX or VMware vCenter products?

Fixes are provided during the support lifecycle in one of the following methods. For VMware ESXi and VMware vCenter Server, fixes are provided in either patches for the most critical issues, or in Update releases.

What are different types of releases for VMware vSphere and how are they different?

  • Major releases: Every numbered release after vSphere 7.0 will be a major release with a new support cycle. As stated above, each major release will have 5 years of General support + 2 years of Technical guidance.
  • Update releases: Every major release will have a minimum of 3 update releases. These update releases do not extend the support lifecycle. Update releases could contain bug fixes, new entablements and new features.
  • Patch release: Patch releases usually contains critical bug fixes and security vulnerability fixes. Patch releases are released for major release or update releases of these major releases, ex: vCenter 6.7 U1b is a patch released that can be applied to vCenter 6.7 U1, this patch cannot be applied for vCenter 6.7. Customers have to update to respective update release before applying the corresponding patch.

What are the benefits of product updates?

  • Enablement of new hardware devices without requiring an update to a new major release.
  • Predictability of update releases on a schedule that coincides with our partners' new product releases.
  • Ability to selectively enable support for devices using the patches.

The General Support Phase includes new hardware support, what does that mean?

New hardware support means that within the General Support phase, VMware will work with its hardware partners to continue to expand the VMware Compatibility Guide for that particular release. The selection of hardware and priority order that they are being tested and added to the VMware Compatibility Guide depends on customer and hardware partner input. VMware does not guarantee that all new hardware available in the market will be supported.

Does VMware’s Support Life Cycle Policy specify which OEM systems will be supported?

No, the VMware Compatibility Guide specifies which OEM systems are supported.

What does Guest OS Update Support mean?

Based on VMware's discretion and input from customers, VMware will work with OS vendors to enable support of new OS releases, OS Service Packs and OS patches. This applies to selective new Major OS releases within the first 2 years of General Support and selective new Minor OS releases or Service Packs within the first 3 years of General Support. VMware will update the VMware Compatibility Guide regarding support of Guest OS releases and Service Packs.

What is the difference between physical hardware and virtual hardware?

Physical hardware is defined as servers, processors, chipsets, and add-in cards. An 18-month hardware support window is started when a major or minor vSphere release is generally available. New hardware technology launched within the 18-month window will be supported in a compatible mode by an update to a vSphere major/minor release; hardware technology launched after the 18-month window will normally not be supported by that release. The hardware version of a virtual machine reflects the virtual machine's supported virtual hardware features. For the currently supported virtual hardware versions, please refer to KB2007240

How long will VMware provide patches for security vulnerabilities and bug fixes?

VMware will provide patches for security vulnerabilities and critical bug fixes throughout the General Support phase of each Major Release (which is five years from the general availability date).

What are the criteria for determining if a bug is critical or non-critical (as specified by VMware’s Support Life Cycle Policy)?

Critical bugs are deviations from specified product functionality that causes data corruption, data loss, system crash, or significant customer application down time. A bug is considered critical if it meets the mentioned criteria and there is no work-around that can be implemented.

Does VMware's Support Life Cycle Policy retroactively apply to older software releases?

The Enterprise Infrastructure Lifecycle Policy starts with the VMware vSphere 4 Software Release and beyond.

VMware Infrastructure 3 product releases are covered by the legacy Infrastructure 3 Support Lifecycle Policy.

What are product releases?

VMware provides Major Releases, Update releases and Patches.

Do I need different license keys for each vSphere major release?

License keys are compatible will all releases that start with the same number before the first decimal point.  For example, the same license keys are compatible with vSphere 7.0 and 7.5, which are different major releases; however, those license keys are not compatible with vSphere 8.0.