Wave good-bye to VMware's unloved vSphere vRAM 'vTax'

Microsoft loses its vRAM tax talking point as VMware returns to CPU-based licensing with vSphere 5.1

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Weeks later, in August, VMware changed the vSphere 5.0 pricing by increasing vRAM entitlements for all vSphere editions, including the doubling of the entitlements for vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise Plus; capping the amount of vRAM counted in any given virtual machine; and adjusting the model to be much more flexible around transient workloads and short-term spikes typically found in test and development environments.

That change seemed to quiet the talking heads in the community, but frustrated VMware shops were already exploring alternative hypervisor products such as Citrix XenServer, KVM, and Microsoft Hyper-V. Those products didn't charge by how much memory was being consumed, so they appeared to be cheaper.

Fast-forward 12 months, and VMware is finally ready to put an end to its vSphere licensing experiment.

For those of you around in the mid- to late 1980s, this brouhaha may remind you a bit of the Coca-Cola company's "New Coke" debacle. Remember, Coke decided to change its flagship soft drink formula, making it sweeter to appeal to a broader audience. But the public's reaction wasn't quite what the company had hoped for. The change caused a backlash from the consumer, and New Coke became a major marketing failure. But when Coke rebranded and reintroduced "Coca-Cola Classic" -- the original formula -- to the market, it saw a significant gain in sales for its product.

Can VMware expect the same result with this backtrack to the previous licensing model? With only a minor dot release of its flagship vSphere product announced at VMworld today, VMware should expect to get a lot more attention for this release than it normally would have because of the licensing change. And all those vSphere 4.x users who've been hanging on the fence waiting to upgrade to 5.0 may now finally make the move, happy now that the "vSphere classic" licensing back.

I consider VMware's licensing model change last year to have been a bold move, and one that it probably needed to make to increase licensing revenue and to fund its cloud vision. But it was done with ill-conceived timing. It will be interesting to see how VMware handles the additional CPU licenses already purchased by VMware customers that tried to stay in compliance of the dreaded vRAM tax.

This article, "Wave good-bye to VMware's unloved vSphere vRAM 'vTax'," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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