Nexus 1000v Licensing

I’ve been knee deep working on a data center refresh. The new infrastructure will make use of Cisco’s Nexus 7009s with the Nexus 2232 FEXs along with Nexus 1000v down at the VMWare level. One hurdle that came up in our design review discussions with our VAR was around licensing for the Nexus 1000v. See, management had decided to purchase the Nexus 1000v with the next purchase of VMWare servers. While this makes perfect sense, it also left the one person out of the loop to QA the order before it went through. But I digress… The only answer I could get from our VAR was “per physical socket.”

*blink*

Okay, but does that mean that you have to have licenses for every VMWare host server in your VCenter data center? Or is it only for the virtual supervisor modules (VSMs)? I should point out that we are small shop and I have been feeling a bit lazy a little extra busy lately and was hoping to get the answer from our VAR. After our VAR SE told us he’d have to find out and get back to me I went looking for the answer myself. After a 2 minute Google search I came across the Nexus 1000v License Configuration Guide. This guide has everything you need to know for licensing.

To break it down, the Nexus 1000v is real in two components – the virtual Ethernet module (VEM) and the virtual supervisor module (VSM). Just like in a physical 6500 or 4500 series switch you can have one or two supervisors. For the VSE though, it’s a little different. Cisco’s Nexus 1000v License Configuration Guide it states that (emphasis is mine):

Cisco Nexus 1000V manages a data center defined by the vCenter server. Each server in the data center is represented as a line card in Cisco Nexus 1000V and can be managed as if it were a line card in a physical Cisco switch.

The real answer to how the Nexus 1000v is licensed can be found in a little note right at the end of the VEM details section. Again, from the Nexus 1000v License Configuration Guide:

A license is required for every CPU on a VEM.

Gotcha! So, if one VEM = one VMWare host server in the datacenter, then the number of physical processors will tell you how many licenses you will need. So, as it tuns out for us, yes, we were very short on licenses. Fortunately, VMWare and Cisco both have bundle licensing for multiple purchases. At the end of the day, the price per license isn’t terrible (it’s also not the cheapest either).

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