VMware has adopted a 'per-VM' pricing model for its virtual machine management tools, in a marked step away from per-processor software licensing.
The per-processor price model for editions of VMware's core virtualisation technology (vSphere) remains unchanged. For its vCenter Management Solutions, however, the vendor will shift to a 'per-VM' model to allow for more flexibility in enterprise use of server virtualisation technology.
VMware's vCenter management solutions include tools such as Chargeback (for accounting for use of virtual resources), Site Recovery Manager (for disaster recovery), AppSpeed (for performance monitoring) and CapacityIQ (for capacity management) and are currently priced per processor.
But as of September 1, 2010 (or late 2010 in the case of CapacityIQ), these tools will instead be licensed in 'VM packs' - licenses sold on a per managed virtual machine basis. The minimum number of virtual machine licenses in a licensing pack is 25.
The vCenter server management console, however, will continue to be sold on a per-server price.
VMware said in a statement that this model "aligns licensing costs to the number of virtual machines being managed, rather than the physical hardware.
Michael Warrilow, product marketing manager for vSphere and vCenter at VMware Australia said that the price model change will make the total cost of a server virtualisation environment "cheaper for some customers and slightly more expensive for others.
"It will allow customers to be more selective about which [vCenter] modules they use," he said.
Warrilow assured iTnews that none of vCenter's functionality will be disabled should a customer exceed its license.
"Licensing is an issue between a customer and their supplier," he said.
Should VMware's new licensing model prove excessive, users will still have the option of adopting third party management tools from the likes of Veeam, HP, CA, BMC or IBM.
vSphere 4.1 released
The new pricing was announced as part of the release of vSphere 4.1 update, which offers stacks of new features for enterprise users, and allows VMware to offer some of its more dated innovations at SMB prices.
For example, the vendor's vMotion technology, which allows users to move virtual machines between physical hosts, has been bundled into the Standard and Essentials Plus vSphere bundles for the first time, but the price of each has gone up by up to 20 percent.
At the high-end, meanwhile, vSphere 4.1 introduces I/O Control for storage and network resources. This enables users to set a "quality of service guarantee" for a virtual machine that follows it regardless of which physical box it sits on.
"In the past, all virtual machines on the same physical box had the same level of access to storage and network traffic," Warrilow said. "Now those metrics are decided per VM and the Quality of Service moves with a VM if you do a vMotion."
Warrilow said the quality of service kicks in whenever multiple virtual machines are fighting for resources.
"This ensures SLA's are met," he said.
VMware has also introduced a feature that allows vSphere 4.1 to communicate directly with the firmware of storage arrays from the likes of Dell, HP, IBM, EMC, NetApp and HDS. The company claimed its 'VMware Storage API for Array Integration' would make storage calls between five and twenty times faster.
The vSphere 4.1 product is available as a free upgrade for those users buying support for vSphere 4.0 and will be available as a download as of today. Customers that have purchased support for the Standard Edition of vSphere 4.0 will be able to use vMotion at no extra cost.