VMware vSphere Editions and Licensing: Which One Do You Need?

With a wide range of products to offer, VMware has become one of the dominant players in the market. VMware vSphere is considered one of the most advanced, yet easy-to-manage virtualization platforms for managing and protecting virtual environments of any size. The number of licenses, editions, and latest features that VMware vSphere provides has grown over the years, which may sometimes cause confusion among users.

This blog post aims at providing an overview of the VMware vSphere editions and licensing in order to help you choose one that is the best suited for your virtual environment.

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About VMware vSphere

VMware vSphere (previously known as VMware Infrastructure) is a cloud computing virtualization platform that includes a set of server virtualization products, with ESXi hypervisor and vCenter functioning as its core components. VMware vSphere allows you to easily create and manage multiple virtual machines (VMs), distribute workloads across clouds and devices, provide on-demand scalability, ensure data security, and build a virtual environment that can comply with your specific business needs.

VMware vSphere Editions: Overview

Due to the exponential growth of businesses, IT infrastructures are becoming more complex, which calls for periodic revisions and updates in order to eliminate any issues that may arise, as well as add new features to the application program interface (API). Let’s review VMware vSphere 6.7 version of the platform that currently provides several packaging options for editions and kits.

Comparing VMware vSphere editions

To understand which VMware vSphere edition to choose, let’s take a look at each edition and its respective set of features.

vSphere Standard

vSphere Standard Edition is a perfect choice for users who are new to virtualization, as it provides a basic level of server consolidation, VM-aware storage, and endpoint security for a minimum price. vSphere Standard Edition can be used by small businesses which intend to expand their activities over time, as it allows you to seamlessly scale up your virtual environment in case of increased output.

vSphere Enterprise Plus

vSphere Enterprise Plus Edition enhances application performance and enables resource management. vSphere Enterprise Plus could be considered a more advanced version of vSphere Standard, and allows rapid deployment and provisioning of workloads, load balancing, as well as establishing the priority of VM resources. VSphere Enterprise Plus is mainly used by medium to large sized organizations.

vSphere with Operations Management

vSphere with Operations Management provides a high-end virtualization platform that allows enhanced performance management. This is an optimal solution for businesses of all sizes, as it enables you to cut hardware costs as well as optimize infrastructure performance with the help of various IT services. These services include: capacity optimization, intelligent workload placement and rebalance, and health monitoring.

vSphere Platinum

VMware vSphere Platinum is the latest edition of vSphere, which is essentially a combination of the core functions of VMware vSphere and VMware AppDefense. AppDefense is a VMware product that protects applications that run in virtualized environments. Thus, a high-level protection of data, infrastructure, and user access is ensured. VMware vSphere Platinum allows you to manage and secure running workflows, even in a case of a security incident. This edition of vSphere offers built-in security that operates on the basis of machine learning. This way, any threats in your virtual environment are automatically detected, which can ensure a prompt response from your side.

The main product features provided in each vSphere edition are illustrated in the table below.

Editions vSphere Standard vSphere Enterprise Plus vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise vSphere Platinum
License Entitlement Per 1 CPU Per 1 CPU Per 1 CPU Per 1 CPU
Server Virtualization + + + +
VM-Aware Storage + + + +
API and Policy-Driven Storage Capabilities + + + +
Support for 4K Native Storage + + + +
vSphere Persistent Memory + + + +
Single Reboot + + + +
vSphere Quick Boot + + + +
Live Migration of Workloads + + + +
Protect VM and Data + + + +
Support for TPM 2.0 + + + +
Virtual TPM 2.0 + + + +
Support for MSFT VBS + + + +
Ensure System Uptime + + + +
Share Data Center Resources + + + +
Endpoint Security + + + +
Fault Tolerance 2-vCPU 8-vCPU 8-vCPU 8-vCPU
vCenter Hybrid Linked Mode + + + +
Per-VM Enhanced vMotion Compatibility + + + +
Instant Clone + + + +
Proactive High Availability + + +
VM-level Encryption + + +
vSphere Integrated Containers + + +
Centralized Network Management + + +
Load Balancing + + +
Prioritize Resources to Virtual Machines + + +
Rapid Deployment and Provisioning + + +
Accelerated Graphics for Virtual Machines + + +
Support for Suspend, Resume, vMotion and Snapshot for NVIDIA vGPUs + + +
Health Monitoring and Performance Management +
Capacity Optimization +
Intelligent Workload Placement and Rebalance +
Self-Learning and Predictive Analytics +
Compliance through Security Hardening +
Automated Discovery of Application Assets, Intent, and Communication +
Contextual Intelligence of Application State +
Orchestrated or Automated Responses to Security Threats +
Integration with third-party Security Operations tools +
VMware AppDefense +

VMware vSphere Acceleration Kits

vSphere Acceleration Kits represent all-in-one convenience bundles that can be used to help customers to purchase all of the necessary components needed to build a new VMware environment. An acceleration kit typically includes six processor licenses for vSphere as well as a license for one instance of vCenter Server Standard. A special feature of vSphere Acceleration Kits is that their components can be upgraded and renewed individually, on your demand.

VMware vSphere Essentials Kits

Small businesses choose VMware vSphere Essentials Kits because they function as all-in-one solutions that are capable of managing small virtual environments. Each of the vSphere Essentials Kits consists of six processor licenses for vSphere as well as a license for one instance of vCenter Server Essentials. Unlike vSphere Acceleration Kits, the components of the Essentials Kits cannot be scaled up or down individually, and any modifications are applied to the product as a whole.

The two types of vSphere Essentials Kits are differentiated: vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus. The vSphere Essentials Kit provides management of applications and server consolidation, which allows you to cut unnecessary costs; and makes it an ideal choice for small offices. vSphere Essentials is purchased along with a one-year subscription to software patches and updates. Support can be purchased by choice, and is available on a per-incident basis. A vSphere Essentials Plus Kit ensures the 24/7 availability of business services and operations, which is made possible by the addition of features such as vSphere HA, vSphere Data Protection, and vSphere vMotion, on top of the basic vSphere Essentials Kits. This type of kit is mainly designed for small businesses that want to ensure minimum downtime and high application availability, without incurring large costs. Support and subscription for Essentials Plus is purchased separately and it is active for one year.

VMware vSphere Desktop

VMware vSphere Desktop is a special vSphere edition that is used for managing desktop virtualization. This edition includes the features and IT services that are present in the vSphere Enterprise Plus edition. On-demand scalability, high availability, as well as capacity management allow you to easily monitor your desktop workloads. The vSphere Desktop edition is suitable for all customers who want to purchase vSphere licenses to implement desktop virtualization.

VMware vSphere Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO)

As many businesses are concerned with data protection and rapid recovery in a case of a disaster, building a remote site with IT infrastructure has become a necessity. vSphere ROBO Standard and vSphere ROBO Advanced are used for managing and maintaining IT infrastructure that is located off-site. These editions include 25 per-VM licenses. The flexible per-VM pricing model ensures that customers only deploy the number of workloads that they actually require in each DR site.

  • Standard

vSphere ROBO Standard provides a virtualization platform from which you can easily manage IT infrastructure at the remote site. Improved performance is enabled through various features, such as: High Availability, Data Protection and Replication, vMotion, Hot Add, vShield Endpoint, Fault Tolerance, Storage vMotion, Virtual Volumes, and Storage-Policy Based Management.

  • Advanced

vSphere ROBO Advanced provides a virtualization platform which, apart from the set of pre-installed features and components of the vSphere ROBO Standard, also includes Host Profiles, Auto-deploy, Storage-Policy-Based Management, and Distributed Switch.

VMware vCenter Server Editions

vCenter Server is a centralized data management application specifically designed for maintaining and monitoring virtual environments as well as the main features of vSphere.

VMware vCenter Server includes three editions:

  1. vCenter Server for Essentials – Basic management for vSphere Essentials Kits.
  2. vCenter Server Foundation – More advanced management for smaller businesses aimed at monitoring and controlling VMs.
  3. vCenter Server Standard – High-end management enabling the optimization and control of all VMs in a vSphere environment.

The implementation of these editions is impossible without a search function, a vSphere client, a web access portal, a management server, a database server, vCenter APIs, and a .NET extension.

Visit the Pricing section on the VMware site to see the current prices of VMware vSphere Editions and Kits.

Licensing Options in VMware vSphere

VMware vSphere 6.7 is licensed on a per-processor basis, without imposing any restrictions on the number of virtual machines, physical cores, or the amount of physical RAM. To install vSphere in a virtual environment, at least one license key should be assigned to each physical processor (CPU).

The VMware vSphere 6.7 license has a simple license key, which consists of an encrypted string of 25 characters (numbers and letters) that contain information about the acquired vSphere edition or kit, and the number of processors. A license key is not attached to a specific server, meaning that this key can be assigned to multiple vSphere hosts. However, note that the number of physical processors on those hosts should not exceed the number of processors encoded in the license key. Moreover, license keys can be assigned centrally through VMware vCenter Server or directly to individual hosts. There is no significant difference between directly and centrally assigned license keys.

With VMware vCenter Server, you can manage licenses that are assigned to vSphere hosts. VMware vCenter Server assigns a license key, then copies and saves it in the host. Even if the host loses connection with vCenter Server, the license key is kept active on the host, and can be saved there for a long period of time.

As mentioned above, VMware vSphere Platinum Edition combines two components – VMware vSphere and VMware AppDefense. Thus, they are licensed as a single product and have a single license. All VMs running on a properly licensed VMware vSphere Platinum processor can use all vSphere components. However, a single license of vSphere Platinum cannot be used across multiple processors.

The Latest Features of VMware vSphere 6.7

In the latest 6.7 version of vSphere, VMware has come up with the new features and capabilities in order to eliminate the gaps of the previous versions, improve the performance of IT organizations, and ensure that businesses can deal with the increased workload while keeping up with the latest trends in the industry.

The newest features added to VMware vSphere 6.7 include:

  1. Embedded Platform Services Controller (PSC) manages various infrastructure security functions.
  2. The architecture of vCenter Server Appliance has been simplified, which has considerably improved its performance. Thus, the following enhancements have been noted: faster performance of operations per second and a reduction in the RAM usage. Moreover, you can now schedule backups of vCenter Server instances and choose the number of backups to keep.
  3. VMware has introduced HTML5-based VMware vSphere Client, which allows you to easily manage ESXi hosts and run vCenter Server operations.
  4. Hybrid Linked Mode ensures the seamless scalability of your operating environment. This feature is an ideal solution for large virtual environments as it allows you to easily manage and expand on-premise VMware vSphere-based environments, as well as to connect them with VMware-compatible clouds (such as VMware Cloud on AWS).
  5. vSphere Persistent Memory allows you to considerably speed up system operations and improve application performance. By installing the hardware modules supported by vSphere, customers can build new high-speed storage for running applications.
  6. Several new features were specifically added to ensure the security of vSphere environment: Security-at-Scale, Support for Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 and virtual TPM, along with Cross-vCenter Encrypted vMotion Support for Microsoft’s Virtualization Based Security (VBS). These features protect the infrastructure and its components from any security threats or unauthorized access.
  7. Single Reboot Upgrade and vSphere Quick Boot ensure that the time spent on patching and upgrading the system is significantly reduced as the host reset is discarded.
  8. Per-VM Enhanced vMotion Compatibility and Cross-vCenter Mixed Version Provisioning enables the smooth transition of workloads across a hybrid cloud environment, even if they have different vCenter versions.
  9. Instant Clone allows you to instantly copy (clone) a source (parent) VM by using a copy-on-write technique. Created clones share the disk and memory of the parent VM, but any changes made in the child VM are reflected and stored in it alone. This feature ensures maximum efficiency and high performance when working in large environments that operate on multiple virtual desktops.

VMware vSphere 6.7 is a reliable, flexible, and efficient virtualization platform. VMware constantly works to improve its functionality by adding more new features and improving the existing ones. With the help of vSphere 6.7, organizations can now build scalable virtual environments on the basis of a hybrid cloud for running, managing, and protecting their applications.

VMware Environment Protection in NAKIVO Backup & Replication

NAKIVO Backup & Replication is an efficient and flexible solution that ensures that your VMware virtual environment is fully protected with the help of VM backup, replication, and recovery. NAKIVO Backup & Replication presents its customers with various license types and editions from which you can choose the best-suited options for your IT infrastructure.

Licensing in NAKIVO Backup & Replication: Overview

NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes the Director, Transporters, and backup repositories. The Director is the central component of the product, and is responsible for the management of various operations, including licensing. Only one license can be installed at a time. If needed, the license can be changed in the Configuration section. Moreover, NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes a 15-day trial license for 6 sockets.

How to check your current license details

NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides:

  • Per CPU Licensing

In this case, CPU socket licensing is assigned for each physical VMware host that you use for VM backup or replication. Target hosts for your replicas, or hosts that are used for the recovery of VMs, do not require licensing. This licensing type is available on either a perpetual or subscription basis.

  • Per VM Licensing

VM licensing is only provided for VMs that you back up or replicate. You do not need any additional licensing for replica VMs or recovered VMs. Per-VM licensing is available to certified NAKIVO Cloud Providers on a subscription basis. Moreover, Cloud Providers can increase or decrease the number of licensed VMs once a month.

Types of Licensing

There are three types of licenses: trial license, perpetual license, and subscription license. Perpetual licenses do not have an expiration date, while trial licenses and subscription licenses do have an expiration date. In a case of the license expiration, the functionality of NAKIVO Backup & Replication is disabled. To restore the functionality, simply install a new license.

Moreover, by default, a product licensed on a perpetual basis includes the feature of Maintenance & Support, which is active for one year. You can be notified about the end of the Maintenance & Support period beforehand (60 days or 30 days prior to its expiration). You can extend the Maintenance & Support period by contacting NAKIVO’s support team.

Additionally, NAKIVO Backup & Replication allows you to transfer a license from one VMware ESXi host to another. Thus, when a VM backup or replication job is created, the product automatically assigns socket licenses to hosts that contain your source VMs. If you have run out of socket licenses, you should choose one of the following options:

  • Edit the available jobs and remove VMs present at a particular host from those jobs
  • Delete jobs that have VMs residing on a particular host
  • Purchase more licenses

Editions of NAKIVO Backup & Replication

NAKIVO Backup & Replication includes six editions that provide various features for VMware environments:

  • Basic. 4 licenses can be purchased by one organization; with $99 paid per socket on ESXi server.
  • Pro Essentials. 2 to 6 licenses can be purchased by one organization; with $199 paid per socket on ESXi server.
  • Enterprise Essentials. 2 to 6 licenses can be purchased by one organization; with $299 paid per socket on ESXi server.
  • Pro. The number of licenses per organization is unlimited; with $399 paid per socket on ESXi server.
  • Enterprise. The number of licenses per organization is unlimited; with $599 paid per socket on ESXi server.

1 year of free Maintenance & Support is provided for all editions. To see the full list of special features that accompany each edition of NAKIVO Backup & Replication, visit our Pricing and Editions page.

Compatibility with VMware vSphere 6.7

NAKIVO Backup & Replication is constantly updated, which allows the product to improve its functionality, introduce new ways of data protection (e.g. remote office backup), and ensure compatibility with the latest technological innovations in virtualization. When VMware introduced the latest version of vSphere – 6.7 – NAKIVO made sure that it could meet new system requirements of the platform. The product is currently compatible with vSphere 6.7, which allows you to reliably protect VMware vSphere environments without experiencing any issues.


Most modern organizations are interested in building and deploying virtual environments, as it is a more flexible and cost-effective solution for data protection. VMware vSphere is considered to be one of the most efficient and reliable virtualization platforms. Its latest version introduced new exclusive features, which have considerably improved the product’s functionality.

To determine how to improve your virtual environment with VMware vSphere, you need to have a close look at the available VMware vSphere editions and licensing. Your choice should be primarily based on the size of the environment in which you operate, the required features and components, and the desired support. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that you have a data-protection solution in place that is compatible with the virtualization platform and that meets all the system requirements. Perform vSphere replication using NAKIVO Backup & Replication and ensure comprehensive protection for your VMware environment without entailing excessive costs.

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1 Year of Free Data Protection: NAKIVO Backup & Replication

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