One of the most important aspects to designing a vSphere environment is choosing what licensing level you’re going to be using. VMware lists the licensing editions available on their website side by side to help customers draw a comparison.
If you want to run vSphere in your datacenter, you’re going to choose between vSphere Standard, vSphere Enterprise Plus, and vSphere Enterprise Plus with Operations Management. Today, we’re going to focus on vSphere Standard versus vSphere Enterprise Plus. You can learn more about the features of vSphere Enterprise Plus with Operations Management by using VMware’s tool I referenced above.
Whichever edition you chose, you’re going to need VMware vCenter Server to manage it. There is one edition of VMware vCenter Server, and that is Standard. It is important to note this is a separate license from vSphere, but you won’t need to worry about what edition to purchase.
If you’re already familiar with VMware vSphere, the best way to get a quick understanding of the features included in each license is to visit the VMware Store for each edition of vSphere. You’ll want to take a look at the “What’s Included” section for both editions. You can VMware vSphere Standard here and VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus here.
To make it a little easier for you, I’ve created this graphic which tells you what is included in the two editions. Items in bold are unique to vSphere Enterprise Plus.
Of course, you can do a lot with vSphere Standard, and for a certain use case it may meet business requirements. On other hand, quite a bit of the magic VMware vSphere brings to the table is in the Enterprise Plus edition
Here are some of my favorite vSphere Enterprise Plus features, and why I think they are worth the premium price tag.
vSphere Distributed Research Scheduler (DRS)
DRS is one of the most useful features of vSphere clustering. DRS’s job is to balance resources across the cluster in order to ensure your virtual machines are getting what they need, and aren’t impacting other virtual machines negatively. This means less worrying about where things are running, and ensures you don’t need to waste time attempting to manually balance a workload. It also means you won’t get paged in the middle of the night if a bunch of virtual machines really get going.
vSphere Distributed Switch
vSphere networking is one of those things that everyone likes to do slightly differently. Some of my favorite features are the Route based on physical NIC load load balancing policy, also known as Load Based Teaming. This policy is the only one which takes the load on the physical uplink into consideration, which can make your configuration even more dynamic. The vSphere Distributed Switch can also shape inbound traffic, and supports Private VLANs (PVLANs). This virtual switch is also managed centrally vs on each ESXi host, which makes life easier for administrators. You can also back up your Distributed Virtual Switch configuration and restore it in case of a disaster, or use it to make setup of your next environment even easier.
vSphere Host Profiles and Auto Deploy
Anyone who’s had to configure ESXi hosts over and over and over again knows it can be a drag if you’re doing it manually. The same goes for installing them. The combination of Host Profiles and Auto Deploy can streamline your ESXi provisioning process, which can save many, many tedious hours. It is also very easy to see if your host is compliant with its attached profile in VMware vCenter, and you can also have vCenter alert you to any changes in configuration.
vSphere Storage and Network I/O Control
These are great features to help ensure each virtual machine gets its share of resources during contention. They can require some tuning to find the best parameters with your environment, especially Network I/O Control, but your time is much better spent here than installing and configuring ESXi hosts one by one.
These, of course, aren’t all of the features of vSphere , just the ones I’ve found myself using the most, and provide the most bang for the buck.
The following features make the case for vSphere Enterprise Plus pretty cut and dry. If you have a business need driving them, you’re going to need Enterprise Plus.
Virtual Machine Encryption
Cross vCenter and Long Distance vMotion
If you end up going with vSphere Enterprise Plus due to needing one of the above features, you’ll also be able to take advantage of all the other great vSphere Enterprise Plus, which is a huge bonus.
If you are looking to justify vSphere Enterprise Plus in your environment, I hope I have you some ideas. Be sure to look at the full list of features and see where you can take advantage of them. You’ll be able to find many synergies on the deployment and administration front alone. I’ve only briefly touched on the vSphere Enterprise Plus features, so stay tuned for more updates.
Are you looking to leverage VMware vSphere in smaller sites of up to 25 virtual machines? Be sure to take a look at VMware vSphere Remote Branch Office Editions.