VMware vSphere+ & vSAN+ Announced


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Today, VMware have announced vSphere+ & vSAN+, VMware’s attempt at providing cloud benefits to traditional ‘on-premises’ virtualisation environments.

Let’s dive in!

 

What is vSphere+?

VMware vSphere+ is a subscription service for vSphere licensing, complimented by the addition of cloud-based services bundled into the subscription pricing. Subscription pricing being the most predictable element in my opinion as this is how the model most tech companies are using to license their products.

 

Cloud Console

VMware will be providing a cloud console for centralised ‘single pane of glass’ management for all your VMware vSphere deployments, globally.

It will be possible to view global inventory, security posture, resource capacity, and even offer the capabilities to tackle configuration drifts between instances vis Desired State Configuration.

Alerts will be centrally collated within the Cloud Console, with VMware enabling simplified workflows for sysadmin tasks such as centralised updating of vCenter.

Updating vCenter has never been so easy!

To facilitate communication between vCenter & Cloud Console, a Cloud Gateway appliance has to be deployed, this is a virtual machine downloadable from the VMware customer portal, this is covered in a later section ‘Deploying vSphere+’

This appliance certainly requires a considerable amount of resource requirements for the Cloud Gateway services, with one diagram from VMware stating 8 vCPU and 24GB RAM, alongside 190GB of storage consumption.

Once deployed, the interface is slick and presents information neatly via the use of graphs and other visual metrics where possible.

One thing I hope to see in the future is the ability to perform centralised remediation tasks for alerts, presently if you had a security alert to disable SSH on the host, you’d be required to connect to the managing vCenter server, whether directly or by clicking a link in the portal, and then manually remediating the issue. The portal link however will still just open a new window that attempts to connect locally to your vCenter environment, it doesn’t tunnel access to your environment via the internet. If you’re already trusting VMware to connect to your platform, you may as well get benefits from the increased security risk.

I’m quite excited about the desired state configuration options with the cloud console, you can import a vCenter server’s profile and use that for all vCenter servers, preventing configuration drift against your management plane.

 

Licensing

There’s a lot to unpack in the license shift, so let’s go through some of the key points.

 

Core-Based Licensing

Yep, VMware are now following Microsoft’s licensing model, it will be licensed based on core count instead of sockets, this isn’t unusual and a lot of companies have moved away from socket licensing due to the sheer core density per socket now. Even VMware’s traditional licensing doesn’t let you exceed 32 cores per socket, requiring multiple socket licenses to license higher core counts per socket.

There also won’t be the need to utilise license keys anymore, with keyless entitlement, I’ve not been able to find out further details on this yet, but we can only assume internet connectivity will be a requirement for this license, as opposed to the downloading of a period license file. This might sound obvious but it’s a point worth considering as this impacts ‘dark sites’ without internet connectivity that vSphere is currently being utilised within, otherwise these won’t be able to benefit from OPEX licensing, though these wouldn’t benefit from the cloud features anyway.

Just like Microsoft, VMware will require a minimum of 16 Cores to be licensed per CPU if the CPU contains fewer cores, and all cores must be licensed.

 

License Conversion

VMware are offering a mechanism for converting vSphere Enterprise Plus deployments, but no mention of any partial credits or discounts for any other license type yet. All you need for your platform to support vSphere+ is vSphere 6.7 or newer.

vSAN Enterprise is eligible for the license conversion process, or ‘Subscription Upgrade Program’ as VMware are terming this.

 

Developer Services Included

By diving into the VMware vSphere edition comparisons, in addition to the cloud console & related features mentioned above, we can that vSphere+ includes the Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Service as standard, normally requiring the VMware vSphere with VMware Tanzu licensing previously.

The integration of Tanzu doesn’t end here, VMware are also including Tanzu Integrated Services, Tanzu Mission Control Essentials and vSphere Pod Service, this last feature requires VMware NSX-T, which isn’t included in the vSphere+ license, yet… Though VMware are actively developing vSphere+ add-on services, with disaster recovery explicitly defined as one of them, but I believe with vSphere+ including Tanzu, that NSX makes sense too, to simplify licensing at scale.

 

Licensing Commitments & Overages

VMware vSphere+ and vSAN+ will both require a prepaid commitment for 1,3, or 5 years. A minimum commitment of licenses will be required, with overages being billed monthly in arrears.

Usage is metered hourly, and any usage above the commitment is classed as overage usage. VMware sum up the number of overage core-hours and the number of cores overutilized at the end of each month. This license model might offer benefits to organisations that have “follow the sun” workloads, whereby they’re shutting down huge elements of their clusters outside of that region’s standard operating hours, with spare licensed capacity being utilised in another geographical region.

 

Deploying vSphere+

Flowchart showing four steps. Step 1: Procure subscription. Step 2: Deploy Cloud Gateway VM. Step 3: Register Gateway with VMware Cloud. Step 4: Register On-Prem vCenter(s).

VMware are providing a Cloud Gateway appliance to deploy into the vSphere infrastructure, so it’s easy to slot into your existing platforms.

Once the appliance is downloaded and deployed, you register the appliance with VMware cloud, and then register each vCenter to a Cloud Gateway. You don’t need to deploy multiple Cloud Gateways if you have a general reason not to, such as multiple vCenter environments within the same physical location. One Cloud Gateway will support multiple vCenter servers.

Downloading the appliance is simple, you can access this via the “All Products” section of the VMware customer connect portal.

Once the ISO is downloaded, you can navigate to the ui-installer folder, then select your operating system as appropriate, and then run the installer executable.

 

vSAN+, Officially an Add-On

vSAN+ is only available to customers with vSphere+ subscriptions, as we’re going to see with other VMware products as time goes on, vSphere+ will become the base license, with other technologies supported as add-on licenses.

vSAN+ provides the equivalent of vSAN Enterprise license features, and you might be thinking “I’m sure there’s an Enterprise Plus vSAN license”, and you’d be right, but the sole difference is that Enterprise Plus also includes vRealize Operations Advanced, which isn’t included in vSphere+ either.

vSAN+ is licensed via the same core count method as used by vSphere+.

 

Further Information:

VMware have created some interactive Hands-On-Labs to click through. These are purely screenshots though, there’s no exposure to the actual product here. Available here.

At the time of writing, VMware have a brief introduction video available on their vSphere product homepage.

VMware have also provided a fair amount of supporting documentation and videos, such as a vSphere+ Solution Brief, vSphere+ Datasheet, vSphere+ & vSAN+ Pricing & Packaging FAQ, VMware vSphere+ Edition Comparison documentation, vSAN+ Announcement Blog Post, vSphere+ Announcement Blog Post

Finally, VMware have released a 22-minute video diving into these new products which I would consider essential watching for everyone that wants to get up to speed with this upcoming VMware platform. Link here.


14 comments

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I personally believe that the pricing makes sense if $110 per core per year is the price point.

vSphere+ is vSphere Enterprise Plus w/Tanzu, with some vCenter licensing mixed in.

But it all comes down to your densities you’ll be working at. vSphere+ makes a lot more financial sense at 16 cores per socket vs 32 cores per socket, but also relies on a need for Tanzu to provide further value, otherwise vSphere Enterprise Plus licensing without Tanzu is even cheaper.

 

I’ve crunched some numbers:

16 cores comparison

$110/core per year at the minimum 16 cores = $1,760

To purchase vSphere Enterprise Plus with Tanzu, with 1 year production support (to make this apples to apples comparison as best we can), is $5,489, that’s up to 32 cores on a single socket.

Then we have a license of vCenter with 1 year production support at $7,719

These come to a total of $13,208 for year one.


Appreciate that a bulk of that cost is perpetual license and the lesser is the support, so lets look at the 3 year support options.


Now for our single socket 16 core vSphere+ we’re at $5,280 over 3 years.

vSphere Enterprise Plus with Tanzu w/ 3 year support is $8,953.36

vCenter Server Standard w/ 3 year support is $10,251.16

The total price for vCenter + vSphere Enterprise Plus with Tanzu w/ 3 years support is $19,204.52


Now, we could try to calculate a 1 year support cost from the gap between 1 to 3 year support options, but we need to consider that this is going to be a discounted per year rate due to signing a multi-year support contract, and that support contracts can increase YoY anyway.

But lets try to work this out crudely:

vSphere Ent Plus w/ Tanzu + 3 year support, minus vSphere Ent Plus w/Tanzu + 1 year support, gives us a difference of $3,464.36, this is the extra for support years 2 & 3, with some undisclosed discounts affecting the per year support pricing. But lets just divide in two for now and call this our per year price, which is $1,732.18


Doing this on the vCenter side as well:

vCenter Standard + 3 year support, minus vCenter Standard + 1 year support = $2,532.16. Again if we do our crude divide by 2 maths to specify a rough per year support pricing, we get $1,266.08. I’m not too worried about vCenter licensing however as we’re more likely to have one or just a few vCenter instances, as they don’t need to scale in-line with compute.

 

Summary:

This means we’re looking at $1,760 for a 16 core vSphere+ year subscription, vs the base vSphere Ent Plus w/ Tanzu license, and then support at $1,732.18 per year. In this scenario, vSphere+ feels like the obvious choice.

At 32 cores however, vSphere+ increases to $3,520 per year, vs the support for the perpetual vSphere Ent Plus w/ Tanzu being the base license + $1,732.18 per year. At this scale, you’d eventually be better off having purchased a perpetual license, assuming no support fee increases YoY.


Again, once we consider you might not need Tanzu, and your licensing costs may become yet more efficient by not using vSphere+, or you may not even need the Ent Plus features, in which case you’re licensing even more unnecessary extras and harming your cost efficiencies.

 

I hope we see vSphere+ with a Standard edition license, or even just a non-Tanzu license, to improve accessibility, but it’s going to be interesting to see the uptake on this regardless, as most people using vSphere have already purchased their license, so it purely becomes an ongoing support costs comparison to most.

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I want to thank Detective @Mildur 🕵🏻 for also highlighting that there is a 3 year commitment option for vSphere+, which reduces the cost per core, per year to $100 per core.

 

I’m going to leave the prices above intact as the goal was to show an approximation of what an ongoing annual vSphere+ subscription would cost YoY vs purchasing a license, but it absolutely makes for a better value with vSphere+ if you can commit to 3 years.

 

This would mean 3 years at a 16 core host would be $1,600 per year / $4,800 over the 3 year term, or a 32 core host would be $3,200 per year / $9,600 over the 3 year term. This doesn’t fundamentally change any of the observations, when you’re at higher core densities, perpetual could provide better value over a long term window, vs subscription being a great day one choice for any organisation that needs this. And crucially, if you don’t need the features, you should only be licensing what you actually need and saving your money 😊

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Thanks for the summary @MicoolPaul! At the moment I don't see any real advantage of  vSphere+ except for enterprises or workloads with highly varying load. It's going to be interesting to see the pricing and compare it to the regular perpetual licenses. But I think in the next years all licensing will be transitioned to subscriptions, just like we see it everywhere else.

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At present it’s definitely geared towards enterprises I’d say as the licensing conversion is geared around Enterprise Plus licenses being traded in. I’m also thinking from a logistics perspective it’s easier to scale to thousands of enterprises getting a specific set of analytics rather than potentially hundreds of thousands of noisy smaller businesses that are more likely to have problems that need addressing.

 

vCenter lifecycle and configuration compliance features are the primary benefits I’m seeing atm. I’m wondering how long before we see the integration of vRealize into this…

 

As for subscriptions, I agree we’ll see a huge shift to subscription based licensing, but I wonder how VMware will license this. Will they license per physical or virtual core? Or per VM? And that’s the core vSphere functionality, what about vSAN licensing?

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Just an update that vSphere+ & vSAN+ are now GA!

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2022/07/vmware-vsphere-and-vmware-vsan-now-generally-available.html

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Nothing so far @regnor 😩 will let you know if I see anything!

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The german blog of Software One listed some prices.

110$ per Core/year. And you have to buy a subscription of at least 16 Cores.

https://www.softwareone.com/de-de/blog/artikel/2022/07/05/vsphere-subscription?gs=CloudServices

I can not confirm if this information is true. 

Userlevel 7
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Wow! These are some detailed calculations@MicoolPaul! Like you say, it comes down to what (features) you need, especially with Tanzu.

Userlevel 7
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Have you seen any prices somewhere?

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Thanks. I'll also keep my eyes open 👀

Userlevel 7
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The german blog of Software One listed some prices.

110$ per Core/year. And you have to buy a subscription of at least 16 Cores.

https://www.softwareone.com/de-de/blog/artikel/2022/07/05/vsphere-subscription?gs=CloudServices

I can not confirm if this information is true. 

That seems expensive if so.

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Great finding @Mildur, though it’s odd that there are no other sources until now. 110$/Core doesn’t sound cheap in the first place, while it consists of E+, vCenter and much more. One would have to compare the support costs for the perpetual licenses compared to the subscriptions.

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Wow. When looking at it that way the cost seems much better.  Guess time will tell as it rolls out.

Userlevel 7
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This will be an interesting product for Service Providers as we are already reading up on it.  Thanks for sharing - great post.

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