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New VMware vSphere Foundation: Death of Perpetual Licenses

If you have been following the developments with the finalizing of the Broadcom buyout of VMware, you have seen there has been a drastic shift in how the new VMware by Broadcom is offering its products and solutions. Gone are the days of perpetual licensing and a new era of subscription-based licensing. You may have heard that a new subscription-based offering called VMware vSphere Foundation is the new way forward for the more traditional VMware vSphere solutions. However, what is VMware vSphere Foundation?

New VMware vSphere Foundation and current offerings moving forward

To begin, let’s understand what happened after the December 11, 2023 announcement. This was when VMware documented the beginning of simplifying its portfolio of hybrid cloud solutions. To be fair, the VMware portfolio of products and solutions was enormous before the simplification of the VMware software catalog. So, from that perspective, having a simpler catalog is certainly welcomed and eliminates some complexity understanding what products and solutions you need.

Now, with the changes, there are essentially (2) offerings for VMware customers for simplicity:

  • VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) – This is the solution that customers have known for a while now that includes VMware’s full stack infrastructure platform. This includes vSphere, vSAN, NSX for micro-segmentation and other security features, and the full Aria Management platform.
  • VMware vSphere Foundation (VVF) – This is the new solution for VMware’s traditional on-premises environment deployments with vSphere. It includes the core components, with ESXi and vCenter Server you can run on your physical infrastructure.
  • Interestingly, you can still purchase vSphere Standard and the vSphere Essentials Plus SKUs for small deployments or number of servers. When it is all said and done, it is made up of the same components that customers are used to having for performance, flexibility, efficiency, and scalability of their applications on top of a VMware IT environment. Customers get vCenters, clusters, vMotion, HA, automated updates, and the other basics. It is just packaged differently now.

VMware mentions there are add-on services and options you can purchase to add specific functionality if you need specific features and capabilities from other single solutions (AI, etc).

Note the following add-ons that are available:

  • VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery – for data protection
  • VMware Ransomware Recovery
  • VMware Site Recovery Manager
  • vSAN Enterprise (Expansion)
  • VMware Load Balancer (NSX Advanced Load Balancer)
  • Tanzu Mission Control

VMware’s Shift From Perpetual Licenses to Subscription

A key aspect of this evolution is VMware’s shift from perpetual licensing to a subscription model. This transition, crucial for VMware Cloud and VMware vSphere, reflects a broader industry move towards more flexible, scalable solutions, particularly for managing complex virtual infrastructures using a more SaaS like model, like you would find in AWS, GCP, Microsoft, etc.

More details on VMware vSphere Foundation

Let’s consider a few more details on VMware vSphere Foundation, what it sets out to do, what it offers, and other details. As mentioned above, it is a new offering that bundles the traditional vSphere components together into a single solution for on-premises enterprise workloads. 

According to VMware and the official introduction blog documentation here, they note the following benefits in resources cost and other areas:

  • 20% reduction in hardware costs
  • 50 reduction in MTR
  • 93% reduction in downtime

VMware says that customers looking to purchase vSphere Enterprise Plus (now no longer offered) or vCloud Suite Standard can see perhaps as much as 50% savings with a 3-year subscription. For deployment plans moving forward for enterprises, what is recommended for businesses provisioning IT infrastructure running VMs and containers and managing multiple clouds?

VMware recommends the new VMware vSphere Foundation offering as the transition path for those currently using vSphere Enterprise Plus or vCloud Suite Standard as the base of their virtualization technology  architecture.

Components that make up VMware vSphere Foundation

Vmware vsphere foundation
Vmware vsphere foundation

Note the following components that make up VMware vSphere Foundation:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus
  • vSphere ESXi
    • Tanzu Kubernetes Grid
  • vCenter Standard vCenter
  • Aria Suite Standard
    • Aria Operations
    • Aria Operations for Logs
    • Aria Suite Lifecycle
  • vSAN Enterprise, including vSAN Max (this is an add-on you can add to the VMware vSphere Foundation solution, and is licensed with100 GiB per CPU Core per host), licensing will need to account for the cores in the CPU socket in this new consumption model)
  • Production Support

Current catalog of products:

Products no longer available as standalone (all editions and pricing metrics)Replacement Product Included in VCF/VVF/Add-on?
(Y/N)
Which Product or Add-On? 
VMware vSphere Enterprise PlusYVCF, VVF
VMware vSphere+N 
VMware vSphere EnterpriseN 
VMware vSphere Standard (excluding subscription)YReplaced with new vSphere Standard 
VMware vSphere ROBON 
VMware vSphere Scale Out 
VMware vSphere DesktopN 
VMware vSphere Acceleration KitsN 
VMware vSphere Essentials KitN
VMware vSphere Essentials Plus (excluding new subscription offering)YReplaced with vSphere Essentials Plus Kit
VMware vSphere Starter/FoundationN 
VMware vSphere with Operations ManagementN 
VMware vSphere BasicN 
VMware vSphere AdvancedN 
VMware vSphere Storage ApplianceN 
VMware vSphere Hypervisor (free edition)N 
VMware Cloud Foundation (excluding new VCF subscription offering)N 
VMware Cloud Foundation for VDIN 
VMware Cloud Foundation for ROBON 
VMware SDDC ManagerYVCF 
VMware vCenter StandardYVCF, VVF and vSphere STD 
VMware vCenter FoundationN 
VMware vSANVCF, VVF, vSAN add-on 
VMware vSAN ROBON 
VMware vSAN DesktopN 
VMware vSAN+N 
VMware HCI KitN 
VMware Site Recovery ManagerYSRM Add-On Service
VMware Cloud Editions/Cloud PacksNReplaced with VCF, VVF
VMware vCloud SuiteNReplaced with VCF, VVF
VMware Aria Suite (formerly vRealize Suite)YVCF, VVF
VMware Aria Universal Suite (formerly vRealize Cloud Universal)N 
VMware Aria Suite TermYVCF, VVF
VMware Aria Operations for Networks (formerly vRealize Network Insight)YVCF 
VMWare Aria Operations for Networks Universal (formerly vRealize Network Insight Universal)N 
VMware vRealize Network Insight ROBON 
VMWare Aria Operations for Logs (formerly vRealize Log Insight)YVVF, VCF 
VMware vRealize Operations 8 Application Monitoring Add-OnN 
VMware Aria OperationsYVVF, VCF 
VMware Aria AutomationYVCF 
VMware Aria Suite Cloud for US Public SectorN
VMware Aria Automation for Secure Hosts add-on (formerly SaltStack SecOps)Tanzu Guardrails Add-On 
VMware vRealize Automation SaltStack SecOps add-onYTanzu Guardrails Add-On 
VMware Aria Operations for Integrations (formerly vRealize True Visibility Suite)YVCF, VVF
VMware Cloud DirectorYVCF (CSP only)
VMware Cloud Director ServiceN 
VMware NSXYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP)
VMware NSX for DesktopYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP) 
VMware NSX ROBOYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP) 
VMware NSX Distributed FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall
VMware NSX Gateway FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall
VMware NSX Threat Prevention to Distributed FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP)
VMware NSX Threat Prevention to Gateway FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP) 
VMware NSX Advanced Threat Prevention to Distributed FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP) 
VMware NSX Advanced Threat Prevention to Gateway FirewallYVCF and VMware Firewall (with ATP)
VMware Advanced Load BalancerYVMware Avi Load Balancer Add-On (also standalone)
VMware Container Networking Enterprise with AntreaVCF and VMware Firewall 
VMware HCXYVCF 
VMware HCX+N 
End of perpetual products from VMware

VMware Cloud Foundation: Still around

The VMware Cloud Foundation solution is still a cornerstone solution from VMware by Broadcom. It provides VMware’s hybrid cloud computing solution for virtual infrastructure, including virtual machines and containers with its SDDC Manager. VMware Cloud Foundation is the solution to enable data center capabilities across multiple locations, edge data centers, and multiple vCenter Servers linked together. This solution still fits in the mold of the new way forward for VMware for a hybrid data center approach.

With VMware Cloud Foundation, you also get the VMware NSX component that allows administrators to have the capability to provide organizations with the tools for modern network configuration across their data centers to meet their connectivity requirements. You can also add on the NSX Advanced load balancing solution to your VMware Cloud Foundation installation to have modern load balancing for Tanzu Kubernetes.

Frequently Asked Questions about VMware vSphere Foundation

What is the role of vCenter Server in Modern Virtual Infrastructure?

vCenter Server has been the essential component of VMware infrastructure since the beginning. it enables the VMware Cloud and vSphere environments and the availability features. 

What are the advanced components of VMware vSphere Foundation?

There are a few more advanced and software-defined components found in the VMware vSphere Foundation solution. These include the NSX Advanced Load Balancer and VMware vSAN cluster within VMware vSphere Foundation. These components are the networking and storage building blocks on which organizations can build their infrastructure and applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure.

Will VMware by Broadcom continue offering perpetual licenses in certain cases?

It doesn’t appear that way. VMware will only b selling subscriptions moving forward. Also, they are ending support subscription renewals effective immediately.

Is there some type of trade in needed of perpetual licenses for a subscription?

No that isn’t required.

What product offerings are now available for purchase from VMware by Broadcom?

VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware vSphere Foundation, Hybrid Cloud services and offers, VMware vSphere Standard, and VMware vSphere Essentials Plus

Where do the changes leave partners?

Despite the simplification of the product portfolio and the new way forward, there has been quite a backlash from VMware partners managing many VMware customer accounts. These have worked with VMware products and solutions for decades now. Along with the changes in the product portfolio, Broadcom terminated existing partner agreements, which has led to quite a bit of fallout. I am a long-time VMware administrator, and I really love the product, as most of those who will read this blog likely do.

However, with all the changes, there is definitely a feeling of uncertainty among admins, businesses, partners, and others. I do think the changes are monumental and could certainly affect whether or not customers choose to renew with VMware or move to another vendor.

I do think VMware has the best virtualization solution out there. However, it is not just about the technology. It is about confidence in the overall ecosystem, partners, resellers, cost, and the whole nine yards. The recent changes have definitely sent shockwaves across the industry. Time will tell whether or not the decisions made by Broadcom overall were the right move.  

Wrapping up VMware vSphere Foundation a new Era for VMware and customers

Until the dust settles, there is still a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt among the entire industry. The changes made by Broadcom have been described as a “tectonic” shift in the world of virtualization. They are certainly not trivial. I do like that there has been a simplification in the product catalog as VMware previously had a monumental product list that could be difficult to navigate. Let me know in the comments. How are you and your companies handling the new VMware by Broadcom changes? Are you staying with VMware or are you exploring options like migrating to a different hypervisor platform? If you are, post your thoughts and comments to the forum thread here: Migrating from VMware to another hypervisor.

Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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