VMware listens to customers, changes vSphere 5 licensing again

VMware raises vRAM limits that customers feared would increase costs and reduce flexibility

On Wednesday, VMware unveiled a list of changes to its vSphere 5 licensing model that the company hopes will calm customer concerns over higher costs after transitioning from vSphere 4.x to the new platform.

As InfoWorld detailed, with the release of vSphere 5, VMware decided to move from a licensing model based on the number of physical server cores to one that also takes into account the amount of vRAM, the memory that is allocated and used by virtual machines on the host server. Unfortunately for the virtualization giant, the new licensing model seemed to overshadow the new features in vSphere 5. The conversation quickly shifted from the new capabilities and features being made available to a black cloud hanging over the platform because of pricing changes.

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The change in the licensing model caused quite a stir in the virtualization community, which was an unexpected outcome for VMware executives. VMware claimed that its original change in the vSphere licensing would affect less than 5 percent of its users. However, what it didn't count on was that a small minority of its users would also be the most vocal. Whether directly touched by the new pricing schema, quite a few people in VMware's own forums or on well-respected community blogs who disagreed and disputed this claim.

It's unclear whether VMware officials really understood the impact that the new pricing model would have when it launched the 5.0 product, or if they just didn't expect to have such an outcry from its customers or, more to the point, its staunch supporters and evangelists in the blogosphere.

Licensing for something as dynamic as a virtualization environment isn't easy. And VMware has every right to try and evolve its licensing to make money and to keep up with a growing server size and Moore's Law. But perhaps this was a drastic move on VMware's part to quickly implement a new vRAM-based pricing model without a bit of education up front and ahead of the change.

But give VMware some credit: It is listening and responding to the outcries, even if it's coming from just a few.

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