For I new setup I bought a Essentials Plus package for ESXi 5.5U2.

This contains (according to the activation details):

  • Three ESXi licenses for 2-socket-servers
  • One vCenter license

My two-socket-servers are not ready to deploy yet, so I started building a test-environment with an old 4-socket-machine using the evaluation license (i.e. no licence at all).

I want to keep that test environmen up after acivation of my two production servers are active, too.

Now my question: What will happen if I install my 2-socket-licence on my 4-socket-server?

  1. ESXi will refuse to install that key
  2. ESXi will swith to RO mode
  3. ESXi will stop working
  4. ESXi will halv the number of processors available
  5. something else?

I could live with 4. - in cases 1 to 3 I will have to pull out two of my processors and will have to pyhsically re-distribute my RAM to the remaining two processors.

In this case I do not think this Q is off-topic. I just need a real-world answer and think others might have the same "problem" if using VMware in a professional way.

  • When there were memory limits ESXi didn't ignore the extra, it just refused to start at all. So my guess is nothing sensible. :) – JamesRyan Dec 2 '14 at 12:09
  • @JamesRyan so you suspect number 3. – Nils Dec 2 '14 at 12:18

Think about the timing here...

  • When will you receive your proper servers?
  • You have a 60-day trial of VMware which is unrestricted, so if you receive your servers before then...
  • Your Essentials Plus license covers 6 sockets, not "three servers".
  • If you install your license key onto a 4-socket server, you'll consume 4 sockets of licenses, leaving 2 sockets free.

That is all.

  • Ok - so the installation of that licence will fail on my second productive server? Bad. So in reverse timeline: If I already "consumed" 4 sockets with my two production machines - what will happen? – Nils Dec 5 '14 at 21:49
  • You get 6 CPU socket licenses. Allocate them as you wish. That could be 6 x 1-CPU servers, 3 x 2-CPU servers, a 4-CPU server and a 2-CPU server... whatever. – ewwhite Dec 5 '14 at 21:52
  • Yes, but `ve got 2 x 2 and 1 x 4 sockets. No choosing. My only possibility is to reduce the CPUs on my 4-socket-machine - but only if I really have to. – Nils Dec 5 '14 at 22:07
  • Well, don't use the 4-socket server. You should try to use systems of equal specifications in your vSphere clusters. Your license is limited to 6 sockets. – ewwhite Dec 6 '14 at 0:20
  • The test machine will not be part oft the production cluster. It will stay test. – Nils Dec 6 '14 at 21:38

The real answer is: It depends.

It depends on wether you install the license on the ESXi server OR if you let it join the vCenter and then try to assign the license.

In the first case - as long as the server does not join the vCenter everything is ok - it uses 2 out of 6 CPU licenses.

In the second case - you can not assign the license to the ESXi-server: vCenter won't let you do that.

Now that lead to the question: What if I assign the license to the ESXi-server and then join the vCenter?

Interestingly this works and shows 8 out of 6 CPU licenses used - and generates an according licsense-warning in vCenter.

My proper solution was to use a 2-socket-server instead.

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