Licensing problems with VMware VIEW4

Recently my colleague Jon Klaus was installing VMware VIEW4 with a customer as he ran into a problem. In his setup there where two ESX hosts that each held 10 VDI VM’s and when putting one host into maintenance mode, he received a number of error messages: “The licensing limit on the number of running virtual machines has been reached”.

After doing some digging in the vCenter licensing overview it became clear what happened. For this customer we had bought two license packs each to support 10 VDI VMs:

  • VMware View4 premium bundle starter kit (10 pack)
  • VMware View4 premium bundle 10 pack

This gave us the following licenses each with a serial number which I of course don’t publish J

Product SKU Qty
VMware ThinApp 4 Client License THIN4-CL-C 10
VMware ThinApp 4 Client License THIN4-CL-C 10
VMware vCenter Server 4 Foundation for View 4 up to 3 hosts VU4-VCS-FND-C 1
VMware View 4 stand-alone, with View Composer Enabled with experimental Offline Desktop VU4-MVDI-C 10
VMware View 4 stand-alone, with View Composer Enabled with experimental Offline Desktop VU4-MVDI-C 10
VMware View 4 stand-alone, with VMware View Composer ENABLED VU4-VC-C 10
VMware View 4 stand-alone, with VMware View Composer ENABLED VU4-VC-C 10
VMware Virtualization Packager THIN4-PACK-C 1
VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus for Desktop Stand Alone License VS4-VU4-C 10
VMware vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus for Desktop Stand Alone License VS4-VU4-C 10
VMware Workstation 7 for Linux and Windows, ESD WS7-LW-C 1

The problem Jon was facing, was that it was impossible to just add those 20 (2×10) licenses to vCenter without assigning them to a host. Because, in our believe, there should just be 20 licenses in some sort of pool that each VDI VM would take one license from. It is possible to assign multiple hosts to one license so they can share the number of available VMs in that license. What you can’t do is have a host connect to more than one license, which in our opinion would also be feasible. In our situation this left us with the following config:

As you can see, the two packs of 10 licenses are dedicated to one or more hosts and each powered on VM gets a license assigned. When putting one host into maintenance mode, all VMs would be moved to the other host and that host would run out of licenses. In View3 the license limits were only an administrative limit but since View4 this has changed and this will prevent you of booting up more VMs than licenses available.

After searching the VMware KB, it became clear there is an issue with licenses in View4:

KB 1017153: VMware View 4.0 virtual machines on an ESX 4.0 host do not power on
Symptoms

  • Virtual machines on an ESX 4.0 host do not power on.
  • This issue occurs even if less connections are active than the View Manager is licensed for.
  • You see the error: There is not enough capacity for this operation.
  • This issue only applies to customers using View 4 bundles that include vSphere for Desktops, vCenter Server and View Manager.
  • This issue does not occur if you are running on vSphere per CPU with View Manager.

Resolution
This issue occurs because of a restriction on the number of powered on virtual machines. To workaround this issue, contact VMware Licensing Support at VI-Hotline@vmware.com to obtain a temporary license key.

After being in contact with licensing support we received a temporary unlimited VMs license key that ends June 30th 2010 as VMware expects to have a solution by then. Personally we already marked June as the month in which we will start calling VMware again to find out where we can download a patch.