Last week we got a question concerning the licensing options around vSphere and how to choose the correct edition and options from all the flavors and options offered by VMware. So while answering the questions concerning the licensing I thought back to a nice overview picture we had available a few years back from VMware. So that’s why I compiled two overview pictures where there is one for the SMB market and one for the Enterprise market. In the overview the current situation and options are summarized per edition.








Enterprise and Enterprise  Plus

VMware had the intention to remove the Enterprise Edition from the market in June 2010, they communicated that to all suppliers and customers. Market pressure and demand made them rethink their choice of removing the Enterprise edition from the portfolio. So you can now choose to go the Enterprise or the Enterprise Plus route.


Options reshuffled

The market around the Hypervisor is in constant movement, therefor there has been some reshuffling of options within the different editions of VMware vSphere. vMotion for instance was moved from the advanced to the standard edition, so customers can use vMotion from the standard edition up.

Also the Multi-pathing APIs moved from Enterprise Plus to the Enterprise edition.  So from vSphere 4 you can now use multi-pathing to the Storage Arrays from the Enterprise edition up.

Also there are several new options available across the editions like Network and Storage I/O control, Virtual Serial Port Concentrator.  With the Virtual Serial Port Concentrator you connect over the network via the serial port concentrator to the serial port console on any server.

The feature allows you to redirect virtual machines serial ports over a standard network link using telnet or ssh. This enables solutions such as third-party virtual serial port concentrators for virtual machine serial console management or monitoring. For more information check an article by Eric Sloof about it on



VMware is going to move totally towards the ESXi platform (also see my post the END of ESX, Long Live ESXi, so they had to give an alternative for the Service Console found in ESX. By introducing and opening up the virtualization platform by the means of APIs they tend to make ESX with service console obsolete. So in vSphere 4 a lot more APIs are introduced which can be used by 3rd party vendors to connect their software with the virtualization layer.

vStorage APIs for Data Protection (DP)

The vStorage APIs for Data Protection enable back-up software to protect system, application, and user data in your virtual machines in a simple and scalable way.  These APIs enable back-up software to:

  • Perform full, differential, and incremental image backup and restore of virtual machines.
  • Perform file-level back-up of virtual machines using supported Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • Ensure data consistency by using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) for virtual machines running supported Microsoft Windows operating systems

vStorage APIs for Array Integration (AI)

The vStorage APIs for Array Integration enable disk arrays to provide the native functions already being performed today. Performance is enhanced for standard vSphere operations such as:

  • Storage vMotions.
  • Provisioning a VM from a template.
  • Using the vSphere vStorage Thin Provisioning functionality.


vStorage APIs for Multipathing

Improve performance and reliability of I/O from vSphere to storage by leveraging third party storage vendor multi-path software capabilities.


How many cores per CPU?

Depending on the number of cores per CPU it is wise to choose the right VMware edition. So if you are going to use as much cores as possible check out the Advanced edition or the Enterprise Plus edition. If you are going to scale out in hardware you could use the Standard or Enterprise edition.

Standard and Enterprise support to max 6 cores max per CPU, where Advanced and Enterprise Plus are supporting max 12 cores per CPU.


Choosing the right edition from the vSphere family

Q: How many servers are you going to use?

A: If you are going to use 3 or less ESXi servers you might want to start with the VMware Essentials Kit or VMware Essentials Kit Plus. Or even with the free version VMware Hypervisor if Central management is not a concern.  With more than 3 ESXi servers go for the Standard, Advanced, Enterprise or Enterprise Plus edition.

Q: How many cores per CPU are you intending to use?

A: If you going to use more than 6 cores per CPU you can choose for the Advanced or the Enterprise Plus edition. If you have max 6 cores per CPU you can choose from any edition.

Q: Is continuity and flexibility is important for you?

A: If continuity and or flexibility is important because of business processes, you might want to look at the HA, DRS, FT, Hot Add, Distributed Switch and vMotion features and choose the corresponding vSphere edition.

Q: Is it a large scale implementation with the need for deep storage integration?

A: If so make sure you have the ability to use the features like APIs for storage array integration, network and/or storage I/O Control. So you will need the Enterprise or even Enterprise Plus edition.



There are a lot of options to choose from but most important of all is that the business understands its demands they have for a modern IT infrastructure so a translation can be made from business objectives, demands and wishes to a solid future ready virtualization foundation.