Upgrading your vSphere environment to 5.0 – Part 1 – Licensing

So the time has come to upgrade your existing infrastructure to vSphere 5. Unless you are new to the IT field you will not just pop in the CD and do an upgrade.  The first thing you need to do is to look at your licensing to make sure that your upgraded licenses will cover your existing infrastructure. With vSphere 5, the licensing has been moved from a physical CPU centric model to a vRAM usage model.  For example, if you scaled up your virtual environment (using bigger beefier servers) like a quad-processor quad-core with 1 Terabyte of RAM; under the old licensing shame you needed to purchase four single CPU licenses.  Going to the same licensing level (will use Enterprise+) you are only allotted 96GB per single CPU license which would only allow you to use a maximum of 384 GB for your virtual machines.  To cover your 1 TB of RAM to be used for your virtual machines you would need a total of 11 CPU licenses.  If you are running extremely large virtual machines with a lot of RAM then the maximum amount of memory counted would be that of 1 Enterprise Plus license or 96GB.  Anything above that is not counted for licensing purposes.

Another issue with upgrading that you should plan for is typically when you under go a major version upgrade your Enterprise Plus licensing is downgraded to Enterprise level.  You will need to talk to your VMware representative for your options on this. Updated: According to the entitlement map on VMware’s website, if you are currently an Enterprise Plus license will map to the new Enterprise Plus licensing and so forth.  This is great news for companies that want the enhanced capabilities and don’t want to pay for upgrade licensing like we did going from version 3 to version 4.


There are also a number of new features that are only available in vSphere 5 if you only have Enterprise Plus licensing.  These include the new Storage DRS and Profile drive storage.  All these items need to be taken into account, planned for and budgeted before doing your upgrade.