July 12, 2011 - Sven Huisman

vSphere 5: What’s in Enterprise Plus?

One of the most popular posts on VirtualFuture.info is about licensing vSphere 4 and the difference vSphere 4 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. Apparently, the information is hard to find or not simply explained somewhere. Now that vSphere 5 is announced, I might as well blog about this version as well.

First of all, the limit on the number of cores are gone. With vSphere 4 Enterprise you were limited to 6 cores per CPU socket. With Enterprise Plus, this limit was 12 cores per CPU socket. The new vSphere licensing model eliminates the restrictive physical entitlements of CPU cores and physical RAM per server, replacing them with a single virtualization-based entitlement of pooled virtual memory (vRAM). This will simplify the process of purchasing deploying and managing vSphere while facilitating the move to shared infrastructure as a service. The vSphere 5.0 licensing model is per processor (CPU) with pooled vRAM entitlements.

The vRAM licenses come in a number of flavors:

  • 32GB vRAM for Essentials Kit
  • 32GB vRAM for Essentials Plus Kit
  • 32GB vRAM for Standard
  • 64GB vRAM for Enterprise
  • 96GB vRAM for Enterprise Plus

What does this mean? An example:

When you have 2 hosts in a cluster, and each host has 2 CPU sockets, and you want to use vSphere Enterprise. You would need 4 CPU licenses. This gives you 4*64GB = 256GB vRAM that the VM’s can use on the cluster. If you need more memory for your VM’s, you have to add licenses, or upgrade to Enterprise Plus.


The following features are available per version:

vSphere 5 Standard:

  • ESXi
  • VC Agent
  • 8-Way vSMP
  • Update Manager
  • VMFS
  • vStorage APIs for
  • Data Protection
  • High Availability (HA)
  • Thin Provisioning
  • Data Recovery
  • vMotion

vSphere 5 Enterprise includes all the features of vSphere 5 Standard and:

  • Hot Add
  • Fault Tolerance
  • vShield Zones
  • Storage vMotion
  • DRS
  • DPM
  • vStorage APIs for Multipathing
  • Virtual Serial Port Concentrator
  • vStorage APIs for Array Integration

vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus includes all the features of vSphere 5 Enterprise and:

  • 32-Way vSMP
  • Distributed Switch
  • Host Profiles
  • Network I/O Control
  • Storage I/O Control
  • Profile-Driven Storage
  • Storage DRS
  • Auto Deploy
  • View Accelerator

Upgrade paths

The following upgrade paths are available:


This means, when you currently have vSphere 4 Advanced licenses with active support you are able to upgrade those licenses to vSphere 5 Enterprise.

Virtual Infrastructure Enterprise / License / VMware / vRAM / vSphere 5 /


  • […] of licensing in a virtual environment but it will increase the cost, according to some analysts and expert bloggers. According to this post, Enterprise vSphere 5 adds licenses every 32GB of […]

  • Avram Woroch says:

    Well that just shot to hell any chance I had of selling management on vSphere 5. A number of our R710’s are dual 6 core, with 72-144GB of RAM and Enterprise. Going this model, I can’t do that. Worse yet, if I have a 144GB host for Dev, with no requirements for advanced features like vMotion or Storage vMotion, we need 3 enterprise plus sockets worth, vs the 2 sockets of Standard we’ve been using? How the hell am I supposed to sell that as an “upgrade” 🙁

  • Tom says:

    Pretty excellent that VMware figured out how to suck out more money from people, this vRAM idea is absolutely TERRIBLE and should be shot on sight. 🙁

  • Alex says:

    Most of our customers have server with 2 QC CPUs and 96 GB or 144 GB RAM. Now they need 2 vSphere 4 CPU licenses per server. With vSphere 5 they will need 2-3x more licenses. No go for VMware.

  • George says:

    This smacks of when citrix decided to drop the concurrent user licensing model. I wonder how long it will be before VMware reverses this decision?

  • […] in VMware vSphere 5 (ThinkCloud) vSphere 5 Licensing: A few things to consider ($blogname) vSphere 5: What’s in Enterprise Plus? (Virtual Future) Calculated Cost Implications of vSphere 5 Licensing (Virtual VCP) A Deeper Look […]

  • Octavio Diaz says:

    I think there is a lot of misconception around this vRAM pricing. The VRAM is calculated on a per socket basis not per server. If you have a server with 2 sockets, 6 cores each, you will have a 192 Gb of Vram available with Ent +. This is well in excess of most physical ESXi servers. The VRAM calculations are based on the total pool for the entire cluster and it only takes the yearly average calculation, not peaks, into consideration. In addition, the maximum VRAM that will be counted towards a single VM is only 96GB meaning that you can have a 1 TB VM and still only have 96GB counts towards the average yearly utilization. I have run this model against many of my very large customers and it has not affected a single client. For smaller customers it is a non-issue since most of them have less physical RAM in the servers then the maximum allowed by the VRAM licenses.