VMware FAQ Pricing
Q: How do Microsoft’s policies reduce the cost of virtualized environments?
A: The vast majority of customers running Windows Server 2003 RS Web or Standard Editions will be unaffected and receive no benefit from these policies. The ability to run multiple guest OS licenses at no additional charge only applies to a small subset of Microsoft customers who are running Enterprise and Datacenter Editions of Windows Server 2003 R2. Customers can realize these cost savings whether they are using Microsoft or VMware virtualization technology.
Q. What about licenses for OS instances in inactive or stored virtual machines?
A: Customers only pay for active and running OS instances. Instances of applicable operating systems that are stored in virtual machines and are NOT active (e.g., for test/dev or disaster recovery) do NOT require additional licenses. This policy also applies to server applications such as BizTalk and SQL Server.
Q. Are Windows OS and server application licenses portable?
A: Instances of Windows OS and server applications are “portable” and can travel across licensed physical machines. Moving licenses across servers requires that both the source and target physical machines be appropriately licensed. For example, if two servers are attached to a SAN where multiple virtual hard disks contain both Windows Server 2003 and Exchange, these instances can be moved one physical server to another as long as those physical servers are assigned Windows Server 2003 and Exchange licenses.
Q: Are applications in virtual machines licensed per physical processor or per virtual processor?
A: Microsoft software available under the per processor licensing model that is run in a virtual OS environment is licensed based on the number of virtual processors used by that virtual OS environment, rather than by the number of physical processors contained in the server. A license is required for each virtual processor used by virtual OS environments on a particular server—whether the total number of virtual processors is lesser or greater than the number of physical number of processors in that server. Customers who use SQL Server, BizTalk, ISA Server or any other Microsoft server applications under this licensing model can realize substantial license cost savings compared to per physical processor licensing.
What is a multi-core processor?
Intel and AMD have announced new x86 processors that combine multiple independent central processing units ("cores") on a single silicon chip. These processors, generally referred to as multi-core processors, offer increased performance compared to conventional processor designs. Multi-core processors also reduce heat dissipation, a benefit referred to as "higher performance per watt."
What benefits should VMware customers expect to see from multi-core processors?
Published performance benchmarks for multi-core systems show significant gains over single-core systems. Each processor core provides a dedicated CPU for one or more virtual machines, increasing the scalability of the VMware virtual infrastructure and offering even more fine-grained resource isolation. Server consolidation in virtual machines particularly benefits from the naturally partitioned processing capacity provided by additional cores. Intel has recently advertised that quad-core systems improve performance by approximately 50% over similar dual-core processors.
Which VMware products does this affect?
This policy affects products licensed on a per-processor basis. For example vSphere Standard, vSphere Advanced, etc.
How does this policy affect my licensing costs on servers with less than 6 cores per processor?
When upgrading your hardware to multi-core technology, you do not need to pay additional licensing fees for a processor with up to 6-cores per processor. For example, if you purchase a two-socket server with each socket populated with a 6-core processor, you need to purchase only two processor licenses of VMware vSphere or related products for that server.
How does this policy affect my licensing costs on servers with 8-cores per processor?
When upgrading your hardware to a server with 8-cores per processor you may upgrade your license or purchase a new license for VMware vSphere Advanced or Enterprise Plus that allows you to deploy the applicable software on up to 12-cores per processor.
What multi-core server models are supported?
Only servers listed in the Systems Compatibility Guide for VMware vSphere are supported. As VMware certifies additional servers with multi-core processors, they will be added to the Systems Compatibility Guide.
When did this licensing change become effective?
This licensing policy became effective on May 21st, 2009. Support for specific multi-core processors is effective when servers containing these processors have been certified and added to the relevant Systems Compatibility Guides.
Does this policy apply to all future multi-core systems? In other words, what happens when greater than 12-core chips are available?
This policy applies only to VMware software editions that define processors as having 6 cores per processor or as having 12 cores per processor. VMware will revisit its licensing policies as x86 processors with a greater number of cores become available.