vSphere 5 Desktop Edition

I alluded to this in my previous post, but it seems that no one else has picked up on it yet, so I figured I might as well write up the first post on the subject.

People familiar with the VMware View Bundles know about a special license of vSphere that comes as part of the package, vSphere 4 for Desktops.  This is a CPU-unlimited edition of vSphere 4 that is EULA bound to only running desktop infrastructures (virtual desktops and brokers).  This helps to drastically drive down the price of a VDI deployment, which is one of the main hurdles to getting VDI implemented.

With the release of vSphere 5, VMware now has four enterprise editions (from the VMware website):


  • VMware vSphere Standard provides server consolidation and no planned downtime.
  • VMware vSphere Enterprise provides powerful & efficient resource management.
  • VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus provides policy-based datacenter automation.
  • VMware vSphere Desktop provides the platform to deploy desktop virtualization offering scalability, high availability, reliability and optimal performance for all your desktop workloads.


The last of these is the one to take note of.  Apparently the vSphere edition currently available with View 4 is going to be made available as it’s own edition separate from View.  What’s the advantage of this?

  1. You won’t have to pay the full price of vSphere Std/Ent/Ent+ or a View Bundle to host non-View VDI implementations (i.e. XenDesktop, vWorkspace) on vSphere.
  2. No vRAM cap.
  3. Enterprise Plus feature set.

This standalone vSphere edition does inherit one limitation from it’s View parent: only desktiop infrastructures can be hosted on these hosts.  One difference it has is that the version included with View is licensed per concurrent connection, whereas the standalone version is licensed per powered on desktop VM.

I think this is a significant development.  I see, roughly, about half VDI implementations go XenDesktop, and a good portion of those still end up on vSphere.  I have advised customers to consider buying the View Enterprise Bundle to simply get the vSphere Desktop licensing if they are going to use vSphere as the hypervisor in a XenDesktop implementation (the View Bundle EULA is written to allow this currently). A separate vSphere Desktop edition allows for a much cleaner licensing discussion.

What’s that you say?  “What’s it going to cost?”  I suppose that is an important question.  The list price will be $65/VM, sold in bundles of 100 (so $6500 per 100).  Much cheaper than the current View Enterprise Bundle list price of $150/concurrent user (depending on your VDI concurrency).

There is no upgrade or license conversion to this edition.  It is only available as a net new license.

A bit more detail can be found on this VMware blog post (that just barely beat me to posting).