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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I know this is really a off-topic question, but it is so differcult to get a clear picture of the cost of a vSphere setup, you have prices from all direction, when you order a server, or just go to vmware.com and buy the 4 different packages,

So far i've found this; VMware vSphere 4 Essentials $995.00 VMware vSphere 4 Essentials Plus $3700

Does this include the licence for ESXi to be installed on 3 server, with 2 socket CPU's + vCenter to manage them or do I still have to pay for each ESX host licence.

The missleading part is here they stay "1 processor up to X cores for servers with up to 256GB of memory" however how many hosts? http://www.vmware.com/vmwarestore/vsphere_purchaseoptions.html Then in the SMB offer page it says "3 servers with up to 2 processors each" but no mention on how many CPU cores per processor. http://www.vmware.com/vmwarestore/vsphere_smbpurchaseoptions.html

I know this has nothing related to Sysadmin tech stuff, but it's a bugger when your trying to find people this stuff.

Thanks in Advace


3 Answers 3


ESXi is free for as many instances as you want - the restriction is that you have to manage each of them separately and therefore lose out on the benefits of centralized management and cluster services (Migration, VMotion, HA, DRS ...).

If you want to mange things centrally or avail of any cluster capabilities then you have to buy vCenter and that must include the licenses for the number of CPU's (up to 6 cores per CPU for most versions) you want to manage. The Essentials license covers the cost of vCenter + up to three hosts with up to 6 CPU's in total and to answer your question that covers both the vCenter License and the ESX\ESXi licensing costs. The relevant VMware document "explaining" this is here.

Essentials only gives you basic clustering and centralized management. Essentials Plus adds High Availability (Auto restart of VM's on another host after a host failure) and Data Recovery. Neither offers the really advanced features (VMotion, DRS, Fault Tolerance, Host Profiles..).This page will give you a complete breakdown of the features\limitations of each version.

Finally if you ever want to upgrade to more than three hosts you will have to pay the full feature license for all hosts including the ones you already had covered by Essentials if you want to manage them in a single vCenter instance.


Some condier VMware pricing expensive and somewhat complicated. You really should talk to a reseller about pricing before trying to purchase to ensure that you are getting exactly what you need.

If you just want basic visualization you can do this for free by running ESXi.


VMware has released this to home and business users alike as long as you do not resell access to the system to users. One caveat is keeping your systems up to date is a bit of work because you have to apply updates directly to each ESXi host. For a couple of ESXi host setup it's not a problem but when you get into many ESXi servers VMware vCenter Server becomes a must because it can centrally manage all of your hosts.

If you want to talk further feel free to ping me.


ESXi 3.5 was free for one cpu socket. This has changed as they are rewording sockets into cores because procs that are coming out in the future will be 12+ cores(nice little tidbit i picked up from the vSphere launch demo).

If you use vCenter with ESXi be prepared to pay the license cost per socket(currently), and vCenter license.

But yes, call a reseller. CDW, and Dell have pretty nice teams for this information if you have reps with them.

  • 1
    I'm running ESXi 3.5U4 with a free license on a dual socket IBM server. Where do you see that it is limited to 1 CPU?
    – MDMarra
    Jul 5, 2009 at 2:40

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