Following the changes made by VMware to the vSphere 5 vRAM allocation sizes, I've released version 0.6 of my vSphere License Calculator to reflect the new vRAM allocations.


Please download version 0.6 and let me know if you discover any further problems with the calculator.

*The vRAM Entitlement for vSphere Enterprise has now been corrected to 64GB*

The new version of tha calculator can be found here


Following some feedback from the community, I'm happy to release version 0.5 of my vSphere License Calculator.


The main issue that has been fixed in this release is a flaw in the formula that calculates the vSphere 4 License count based on the CPU core count.


The problem was discovered when a user tried to calculate licenses based on 7 core CPUs. This had highlighted a major flaw in the original formula for calculating vSphere licenses. The formula for calculating vSphere 4 Licenses has therefore been rewritten from scratch.


Please download version 0.5 and let me know if you discover any further problems with the calculator.


The new version of tha calculator can be found here


After receiving reports from the community of some issues with the calculator, I've decided to release version 0.4 of the vSphere 4 and 5 Licence Calculator.


In addition to some bug fixes, this version also displays a graph for each edition of vSphere, instead of just Enterprise Plus.

The calculator can be downloaded from here



This is just a quick post to say that my vSphere License calculator has now been updated to Version 0.3.


The following changes/updates have been made:

  • The term "cluster" has been removed
  • “Memory Utilization” has been more accurately replaced with vRAM Allocation
  • Narrow Columns have been “stretched”
  • Extra fields have been added to display CPU core Entitlements for vSphere 4 Editions
  • The Enterprise Plus Calculation and Chart/Graph has been reformulated to allow for vSphere 4 to be more expensive when CPUs with more than 12-cores are in use.
  • A Virtual Machine Capacity Calculator based on Allocated vRAM has been added
  • The general layout of the calculator has been improved
  • Calculation fields have been re-ordered to make better logical sense
Version 0.3 of the calculator can be downloaded from here

I have decided to publish a BETA version of the tool I quickly made a day or two ago in order to calculate vSphere 5 licenses figures. This is the tool that I used to compile the data from my previous post, titled A Deeper Look Into VMware vSphere 5 Licensing.


Please keep in mind that this is a very simple tool and it i very much still in the early stages of development.

The calculator can be downloaded from here


This tool can be used to calculate the license requirements for vSphere 5.


WARNING: By downloading this tool, you agree to the following statement(s):

This calculator is provided free of charge with no warranty provided. The use of this calculator is at your own risk. The author or distributor of this tool cannot be held liable for any loss or damages as a result of using this tool. This calculator has not been approved or funded in any way shape or form by any software vendor, reseller or partner, including VMware, Inc.

The rules and figures used in this calculator are subject to change without prior notice.

Published in Tools

Last night I posted an article where I showed my initial findings in regards to the changes in vSphere Licensing. In the post I showed just how much more VMware customers will have to fork out to upgrade their environments to vSphere 5. I also included some tables which showed the figures.

After looking into the licensing issue a little deeper, and after spending some time on the phone with my good friend Tom Howarth (from, I realized that the whole licensing thing isn’t as straight forward as my original post might have pointed out. I’m going to try and explain myself and Tom’s findings.

The first conversation I had with Tom this morning really turned into a session in which we had exchanged our feelings of disbelief and annoyance in regards to where the new licensing model would leave our customers. About half an hour to an hour after that conversation had finished, Tom gave me another call in which he said: “It’s not as bad as we had first thought”. I guess that is what really (indirectly) triggered this post.

Both Tom and I did some calculations on our own and came to the same conclusion. Although we are not entirely in favor of the new licensing model, it does seem to, in certain conditions, force you to stay with recommended best practice in regards to N+1.

I’m going to try and start off with some simple examples to illustrate just what the new licensing model would mean in terms of money.

Bear in mind that in vSphere 5, the licensing will be based on “pools” of resources which I understand is per “vCenter Server instance”. I assume that licenses can move around not only between clusters, but data centre objects as well. However, I could be wrong, so don’t quote me on that just yet.

For simplicity, I’m going to assume that we have a single vCenter server that manages a single cluster of ESXi hosts.

In my first example, I’m going to keep it real simple. In this example we have a single ESXi host being managed by a vCenter server. The ESX host has two 12-core CPUs and 64GB of RAM to start with. The calculation looks as follows:


In the table above, we see that it actually costs more to run vSphere 4 Enterprise than vSphere 5 Enterprise or Enterprise Plus. Also, notice that we require more vSphere 4 Standard and Enterprise licenses as what is required for vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus as well as all of the vSphere 5 Editions. This is because of the 6-core CPU limit on vSphere 4 Standard and Enterprise Editions.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say about the calculation above, so let’s double the memory in that host to a figure that I’m more likely to see more often in my customer environments.


Ok, the table above shows a little more about the penalty that will be paid in terms of vRAM TAX. Because there is now more than 96GB of RAM, an extra CPU license is required to legally make use of use of 100% of the physical memory.

However, as a single host is not very realistic, I’m going to up the ESXi hosts to 4. Let’s see what happens.


The table above shows 4 ESXi hosts. Although the licensing looks bad, keep in mind that we are planning to use 100% of the physical memory in the host, which is not a good idea in terms of HA and N+1. It is also very bad design practice.

So to get ourselves into a better position in regards to HA, let’s apply a rule that states we have to leave 25% headroom in terms of cluster wide memory.


As a result of applying a rule that states that we are only allowed to use 75% of the TOTAL cluster’s physical memory resources, the licensing seems to be more on target, with an equal license count between vSphere 4 and 5. Also, because of the CPU core limit in vSphere 4, notice that with the Enterprise license, vSphere 5 actually works out cheaper than vSphere 4.

Now here’s the trap. Let’s up the Target Physical memory Utilization figure to by 1% to 76% and see what happens.


As soon as we use 76% of the cluster wide physical memory resources, we are required to purchase another license. The biggest issue I have here is that VMware now contradicts itself in terms of features and licensing. For example, they would like to sell vSphere as the “clever” solution that will sort out resource contention with things like Resource Pools (Proportional Share-Based Algorithm) and Transparent Memory Page Sharing, but on the other hand, they tax you for using those features.


In the figure above, vSphere 5 is more expensive as we only have two CPU sockets in each host and are aiming to utilize 100% of the physical memory. As said before, this is a bad design!


The figure above shows that with the reduced Max physical memory utilization of 75%, vSphere 4 and vSphere 5 is on equal footing in regards to price. However, the catch is detailed in the graphs below:


The figure above starts to reveal the vRAM tax. Simply because we use 1% more than 75% of the physical memory, we now require an additional CPU license on vSphere 5


Now the figure above shows just how the vRAM tax is applied. The next figure will make it even clearer.


Ok, so we can clearly see that from the images above, based on 128GB of RAM per host, which I have to say, based on my experience, is an average amount of RAM for today’s blade systems, the penalty get’s heavier and heavier with every host you add to the environment.

Now, if you do end up in a situation where you need to purchase additional licenses, the only thing that can think of to cushion the blow a little would be to double the amount of physical processor packages in each host, if you have the empty sockets available to do so. Probably the worst thing I can think of is having a situation where you have more licenses than physical CPUs and still have empty CPU sockets. At least, by filling the empty CPU sockets, you’ll have the option of additional CPU resources.



I’ve been getting quite a lot of emails asking what equipment I’m running in my home lab. Rather than having to reply to each and every email with the full inventory, I thought it would be a better idea to just post it on here.

Now, my home lab is nothing special. In comparison to the toys that some people have the pleasure of playing with in their labs, and I’m not mentioning any names (hmmm, Mike Laverick), my little environment is very cheap and simple, but it does the job well enough for me, so I can’t really justify any upgrades. Not at the moment anyhow.

Let’s start with the stuff you’re probably most interested in, the servers:

For VMware vSphere, I have two whitebox servers, each with the following configuration:

  1. AMD FX-8320E 8-Core FX Series CPU
  2. Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Socket AM3+ Motherboard (Micro-ATX)
  3. 2x CORSAIR CML16GX3M2A1600C9 (32GB Dual Channel DDR3)
  4. 350W BeQuiet PURE L8 BN221 Power Supply
  5. Gigabyte GZ-MA02 Case (Micro-ATX)
  6. 1X Intel PRO/1000 GT Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  7. No local disk drives. Boot ESXi 5.5 from a USB stick

In addition, I also use two of the following specification machines in a two node "compute" cluster when testing vCD or vCAC deployments

  1. HP Proliant ML110 G5
  2. Intel Xeon 3065 @ 2.3GHz (FT is unfortunately not supported)
  3. 8GB RAM
  4. 1x Onboard Broadcom NC105i Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  5. 1X Intel PRO/1000 GT Dual Port Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
  6. No Internal Hard Disk Drive
  7. Boot ESXi 5.5 from a USB Stick installed internally on the motherboard.

 For shared storage, I have a Synology DS1512+, populated with 4 1x TB disks in RAID10. This configuration provides more than enough storage capacity for my requirements. In addition, the Synology DS1512+ also has support for VAAI.

Network Equipment:

The hosts are all connected via a 3COM (HP) Baseline 2924, 24-port gigabit managed switch.

Now I would advise that this is a non-production, test environment only. There’s not much resilience in there. I simply do not have any more space for any more server and network equipment. Besides, I costs a small fortune to power these things 24x7 anyway.

So that covers the servers. My “desktop” PC on the other hand is entirely another matter. Seeing as I really only buy a new PC every 5 or 6 years, and seeing that I’ll be using this machine predominantly in my spare time to run graphics intensive applications such as Flight Simulators, I really went all out on this one in terms of performance, power and stability:

  • Cooler Master CM Stacker 830 Full Tower Case
  • Antec TPQ-1200OC TruePower Quattro OC 1200W Modular Power Supply (PSU)
  • ASUS Rampage III Extreme X58 Motherboard
  • Intel i7 950 CPU (surprisingly the slowest component in the box)
  • 12GB RAM: 6X Corsair Memory Dominator GT 2GB DDR3 1866 Triple Channel Modules
  • 1X Samsung 840 PRO 128GB SATA III SSD (Operating System Install)
  • 1X 64GB OCZ Vertex 2 SATA II 2.5" SSDs (Flight Simulator installs)
  • 1TB Seagate SATA II drive for applications and data storage
  • 1x Onboard Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • M-Audio Revolution 5.1 Sound Card (PCI)
  • XFX ATI Radeon HD 5970 Black Edition 2GB Graphics Card

Just a quick note on the case: I cannot stress enough just how large this case is. IT IS HUGE! I caught myself starring in amazement at the thing for about 20 minutes when it arrived. If you ever think about getting one of these cases or a similar one of that matter, make sure you have enough space to park this thing NEXT to your desk, because it’s not going anywhere else!

Just a quick note on the graphics card: The graphics card is the main reason for my decision to purchase the CM Stacker Case. I needed to get a case that would provide sufficient space for the card to actually fit into. The graphics card is a massive13 inches long and believe me when I say that it just about fits the case with maybe an inch or so to spare at most.

For stability reasons, this card also demands a certified power supply that is capable of a bare minimum 600W. As I have plans to install a second card and maybe even a third card in a cross-fire configuration later on, I thought it would be best if I make sure that I buy one power supply now that will provide sufficient stable power for future upgrades.


Published in About VirtualVCP

It’s now a done deal. VMware has officially completed their acquisition of SpringSource. SpringSource is an enterprise and web application development company and will now be seen as a division of VMware. The CEO of SpringSource will serve as the division’s general manager.

VMware says that the new division’s “charter” will be to focus on providing developers and customers the best experience for developing enterprise and web applications, as well as helping VMware create integrated products based on SpringSource technologies and VMware vSphere to deliver a simplified ‘build, run and manage’ experience. These new products will help VMware’s cloud computing strategy to deliver PaaS (Platform as Service) solutions that can be hosted by their customers internally or by service providers.


VMware announced vCloud Express™ at VMworld 2009. vCloud Express allows for the provisioning of infrastructure on-demand. Unlike conventional hosting, services running inside the cloud provided by vCloud Express services are charged for by the hour. This is paid for by credit card. The credit card details are taken upon registering for a vCloud Express account with a service provider that provides vCloud Express services.


Service providers who will provide vCloud Express services, will display the VMware Virtualized™ logo on the website. This is because VMware vCloud Express™ essentially runs on vSphere and it therefore ensures compatibility with VMware environments on external as well as internal clouds.


With vCloud Express™, service providers can now provide a fast and cost-effective solution for their customers to gain on-demand access to a VMware Virtualized™ environment. Virtual Machines can be easily and quickly be deployed. This is especially useful for application development and testing. As vCloud Express™ runs on vSphere 4, it also supports all the guest operating systems that vSphere 4 supports. From registration to deploying machines, vCloud Express™ is fully web based.


Terremarks’s implementation of VMware vCloud Express™ was demonstrated on stage at VMworld 2009. The demonstration was quick and easy and demonstrated just how easy vCloud Express™ makes it for clients to register for the service and provision a server in minutes.


Although still in Beta, the following service providers are currently offering vCloud Express™ services:


United States and Canada (Amaricas):
Terremark,, BlueLock


Melbourne IT