VMware : Splitting a vSphere License

VMware vSphere license split

We have been looking at a series of interesting facts around VMware software licensing that can often catch organisations out when managing their software assets. This tip is about splitting a vSphere license.

When a VMware license is purchased, an ‘instance’ number is generated within VMware which is like a unique number of a database. So, if you purchase 8 x vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses, this order will be associated with one instance number.  Note : The instance number and license keys are not the same.

When renewing, upgrading or making any other license changes, VMware will always require the instance number otherwise the order could be processed incorrectly. Unfortunately, VMware don’t display the instance number anywhere on the MyVMware portal.

Continuing with our example of a purchase of 8 x vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses, when it comes to ‘splitting’ a license, this can be completed in two ways and can cause confusion:

·       If the licenses were purchased for 6 CPUs for Site A and 2 CPUs for Site B then the License Key on the MyVMware portal can be split but this won’t affect the instance number in the background.

If the 2 CPUs for Site B are now combined with other vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses to form one new license key, the instance number for the original purchase doesn’t change.  Therefore the new license key for Site B would contain numerous instance numbers which could have different SnS expiry dates. As time moves on and the renewal dates are co-termed or the license key is split again, then you can see how the scenario of managing the VMware licenses can become complex.

·       It may become necessary to split the instance number; this could be due to a technology refresh and for example and only 4 CPUs of the 8 CPUs x vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses are required for SnS renewal.

VMware will need the instance number to perform the split in the background to allow a SnS renewal order to be processed.  The instance number can be obtained via an IBR report from VMware. However, this report does not link to the MyVMware portal via the license keys, which can add to the complexity of ensuring the right instance number is identified for the split. When VMware complete the license split, a new instance number is generated further complicating the issue.

At The SAM Club we work with our clients to document their VMware environment and assist with the management and use of the licenses. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our software asset management service.

The SAM Club, are independent trusted advisors who work with organisations to help them manage their software assets, allowing them to focus on their business needs. Being independent means, we do not resell any software, so we are completely unbiased in our advice.


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