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Your Quick Guide to Navigating the New VMware by Broadcom Landscape

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware in November 2023 brought a flood of changes to its product offering, ranging from minor to impactful. Keep reading for a quick rundown of important changes as you begin planning IT budgets. Broadcom is still announcing updates, so check back often for the latest news.

The Changes

  • All VMware product licenses have been switched from a perpetual offering to a subscription-based offering
  • vSphere/ESXi licensing is now core-based, with a minimum of 16 cores per CPU required to be licensed
  • VSAN is now capacity-based, based on the overall (not usable) TiB of storage in the cluster
  • All VMware product offerings have been consolidated into three main offerings: vSphere Standard, vSphere Foundation, and VMware Cloud Foundation

What to Know About the Subscription-Based Model

The discontinuation of perpetual licensing means all VMware licenses are offered solely as subscription-based licenses, currently in terms of 1-, 3-, and 5-years. With this change, you can expect a shift away from CapEx towards OpEx when it comes to your licensing costs. However, you should be aware that vCenter and the support for these VMware licenses — two things that previously needed to be bought separately from the perpetual CPU licenses — are now included in all of these subscription-based offerings, which simplifies things for the end user.

vSphere And vSAN Changes Explained

vSphere licenses are now on a per-CPU, core-based basis, starting with a minimum of 16 cores required to be licensed. Here is a breakdown:

  • If you have a server with two 8-core CPUs in them, both need their core-based license and are required to have at least the minimum of 16 cores licensed to them, even though they fall well under that number of actual cores. This means that you’d end up paying for a total of 32 cores worth of licenses despite only using half of those.
  • If you have two 20-core CPUs, since these CPUs are above the 16-core minimum, you’ll pay for 40 total cores worth of licensing, all of which you’ll be using.

This change may have a significant implication for your virtualization environment. VMware’s previous vSphere licensing model was per CPU, up to a maximum of 32 cores per CPU. This may have caused some end users to buy CPUs with higher core counts than they needed for their workloads simply because they figured they’d be paying to license those cores either way. Now is a crucial time to take a good look at your hardware and determine whether rightsizing your CPUs is a good idea.

vSAN arguably encompasses the most confusing changes. vSAN was previously CPU-based, similar to vSphere. Now, it’s licensed by overall TiB — that’s tebibytes, not terabytes (TB) — of storage in use by the cluster. If you’re unfamiliar with the difference between TiB and TB, 1TB ≈ 0.91TiB, so you’ll need to convert the total amount of drive space in TB to TiB to make sure you are licensing enough space. Additionally, make sure you take into account the total amount of raw capacity across all servers in the cluster, as — even though the amount of usable space will be smaller once configured in vSAN — you are still required to license the total raw capacity.

The New Consolidated Product Offerings

When Broadcom acquired VMware, it also shrunk its vast number of products into just three core offerings. The first one, vSphere Standard, is simply licensing for vSphere standard and is essentially identical to the vSphere Standard licenses previously offered by VMware — taking into account the aforementioned licensing changes and noting that vCenter and support are now included here by default. It is important to note that if you want to use vSAN as well, you’ll need to opt for one of the two following subscriptions — vSphere Standard will not work with vSAN.

Up next is vSphere Foundation, which includes vSphere Enterprise Plus, Aria Suite Standard, and a trial 100GB per core of vSAN licensing. However, if this trial vSAN licensing included here isn’t enough to license your entire vSAN environment, you will still need to purchase enough TiB of vSAN licensing to cover your entire environment, negating this offering.

Finally, VMware Cloud Foundation contains everything included in vSphere Foundation, as well as other key features, such as NXS for networking, HCX Enterprise, and SDDC Manage. With VMware Cloud Foundation, you’ll get one TiB free of vSAN licensing per core of vSphere licenses purchased, and in this case, this free capacity will count toward your overall vSAN licensing, should you need to purchase additional licensing.

You Aren’t Alone During These Changes

Do not worry if you feel overwhelmed by these changes and a bit unsure about the future of your VMware environment. Curvature, and our parent company Park Place Technologies, are here to act as your trusted advisors to navigate these changes, and plan the future of your environment. If you’d like further assistance, contact us today or reach out to your Curvature or Park Place account rep.

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