VMware licensing can be very confusing especially for new or prospective customers. I am going to breakdown the core components and explain the features and functionality of each. This will help prospective or new users get started and experienced users get a better understanding of what components they need to start utilizing some of the more advanced features that VMware offers.
Let’s start by looking at the 2016 Compute and Management Packaging:

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As you can see this displays four of the main components of VMware: vSphere, vRealize Suite, vCloud Suite, and vCenter.

Let’s take a look at each:

vSphere

vSphere is VMware’s hypervisor. If you are new to VMware, you will at the very least need a vSphere license to get started. vSphere is licensed per CPU. Please see the three options below:

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vSphere Standard – Includes the following features:

  • High Availability – Reduces downtime by automating restarts of VMs
  • Fault Tolerance – Provides continuous application availability in the event of a HW failure
  • vMotion, Cross-Switch vMotion – Enables live migrations of VMs across servers and Virtual switches
  • Storage vMotion – Enables live migrations of virtual disk files across storage devices
  • Data Protection – Storage efficient backups
  • VM Data Replication – WAN optimized replication
  • Virtual Volumes – Extends VMware’s software defined storage model to external storage
  • Storage-Policy Management – Allows storage management across tiers and policy driven automation
  • APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) – Provides array integration with vCenter for management functionality
  • Multi-VC Content Library – Centralized management of VM templates, vApps, IOS images, and scripts
  • APIs for Array Integration, Multipathing – Improves overall performance and efficiency by leveraging array based operations and provides third party vendor multipathing software capabilities

vSphere Enterprise + – Includes all the features from Standard, in addition to the following:

  • Distributed Resource Scheduler – Automatically load balances across hosts
  • Distributed Power Management – Optimizes power consumption by turning off idle hosts
  • Big Data Extensions – Provides the ability to run Hadoop on vSphere
  • Reliable Memory – Places critical components into more redundant regions of memory
  • Distributed Switch – Provides centralized management of network configurations
  • Storage DRS – Automated load balancing for storage resources
  • I/O Controls (Storage and Network) – Prioritizes access by continuously monitoring I/O load
  • Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) – Virtualize a single PCIe device to appear as multiple logical devices
  • Host Profiles and Auto Deploy – Can assign a host profile to one or many hosts
  • Cross-VC vMotion – Migrate VMs across vCenter servers
  • Long Distance vMotion – Increased the round trip latency limit for vMotion networks from 10ms to 150ms
  • vGPU – Enables a single GPU to be shared among multiple virtual desktops

vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise + – Includes all the features from Standard and Enterprise +, in addition to the following:

  • vRealize Operations STD – Provides intelligent operations, consistent management and automation with predictive analytics
vRealize Suite

The vRealize Suite is intended for users that already have vSphere but are interested in the more advanced features of VMware, such as automation, cost analysis, and log analysis. There are three different options in the vRealize Suite: Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise.

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vRealize Suite Standard – Includes the following features:

  • VRealize Operations Advanced: SDDC Monitoring for Hybrid Clouds – SDDC Performance and Availability – Unified Management – Performance Management – Policy Based Automation
  • Log Insight: Log Analysis – Heterogeneous and Highly Scalable Log Management – Intuitive and Actionable Dashboards – Sophisticated Analytics – Faster and Improved Troubleshooting
  • vRealize Business for Cloud Standard: Cloud Compare, Costing – Cloud Cost Management – Cloud Cost Comparison and Planning – Cloud Consumption Analysis (Customer’s love this feature)

vRealize Suite Advanced – Adds the additional functionality of infrastructure automation:

  • VRealize Automation Advanced: Infrastructure Automation – Improve IT Agility Through Automation – Automate Full Stack Infrastructure Provisioning – Governance Policies – Multivendor Flexibility

This module is required for implementing infrastructure automation into your environment. If you are interested in automation and need assistance, we can help. We offer vRA extensibility modules that provide full stack and application automation through SovLabs.

vRealize Suite Enterprise – Adds the additional functionality of application automation and monitoring:

  • VRealize Automation Enterprise: Application Automation – Automates the Delivery and Management of the Full Application Stack
  • VRealize Operations: Application Monitoring – Increased Extensibility for Managing and Monitoring Critical Applications
vCloud Suite

The vCloud Suite is pretty straightforward, it basically includes vSphere Enterprise + and one of the vRealize Suite options:

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vCloud Suite Standard – Includes:

  • vSphere Enterprise +
  • vRealize Suite Standard

vCloud Suite Advanced – Includes:

  • vSphere Enterprise +
  • vRealize Suite Advanced

vCloud Suite Enterprise – Includes:

  • vSphere Enterprise +
  • vRealize Suite Enterprise
vCenter

vCenter provides a centralized platform for managing your VMware environment. You will need at least one vCenter. There are no limits on how many vCenter servers you should have, but there is a limit on how many objects a vCenter can manage. Here are some best practice guidelines for deploying vCenter:

  • Have separate vCenter servers for Prod and Non-Prod
  • Have a dedicated vCenter for vRealize Automation
  • Have a dedicated vCenter for VDI
  • Have a separate vCenter server per site or a dedicated server to manage the remote sites

Please note that the Windows version of vCenter will be going away and you will have to convert to the appliance based version.

To summarize, if you are new to VMware and are not ready for the more advanced features you will need at the very least vSphere. If you have VMware and want to start utilizing more of the advanced features you will need one of the vRealize Suites. If you are new to VMware and want the advanced features then you should be looking at one of the vCloud Suite packages. I hope this guide has helped you to better understand the core components of VMware. If you need any additional details or assistance please contact us, we can help.