Bear with me, this may be a bit lengthy…
VMware Partners in the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) use an appliance the vCloud Usage Meter to record their environment usage and provide the basis for their monthly license billing.
* If you are not familiar with this appliance, you can find out more about it and the Automatic Reporting SaaS service (vCloud Usage Insight) at this product page.
In the past year, I’ve talked with many partners in every GEO about their Usage Meter deployments. Each with varying business strategies and requirements. So I thought it would be helpful to discuss some strategies for making sure that a partner cloud offering is metered correctly as well as compliant with VCPP from a licensing perspective. The idea here is how to reduce compliance risk.
Before we get into it, lets start off with one important statement.
The key to compliance in VCPP is the Monthly Usage Report in Usage Meter.
All other reports are just nice files to help you understand your business. The goal is to make sure that the Monthly Usage Report matches what is happening in the production environment and that the environment matches the expectations of the program. The reason that this is important is because I’ve talked with many partners using the Customer Monthly Report to submit their usage each month. This isn’t compliant with the program and could end up costing them more money in licensing in the long run. Its a risk partners should never take (beyond not being allowed to).
Moving on, lets tackle some assumptions, constraints and policies too:
- Partners are required to run a support version of Usage Meter, at this time, UM 3.5 will be end of support at the end of March. Leaving 3.6.X and above as the only supported versions.
- Because Usage Meter only supports certain versions of VMware products, it indirectly places constraints on partners to run newer versions of VMware products like vSphere (you have to update!).
- Since the Monthly Usage Report is the only one allowed to be used (Program Guide), you cannot split usage from one UM appliance across multiple contracts, sites or countries.
- According to policy, all management applications that service or support the revenue generating environment need to licensed using the VCPP license keys, and also needs to run on hosts that are metered (Program Guide). This is for all direct and indirect management, including applications like vCenter, vROps, vCD, DNS, 3rd Party Network or HCI storage solutions running on vSphere, etc…
- Cloud Demonstration environments are areas where partners can on-board a potential customer without being charged for licensing usage to build a runway for bringing in new customers. There are limitations to this benefit based on partner level. Partners also cannot charge customers who run in these environments.
Alright, now that we have the unpleasantries out of the way, lets move on to some deployments. I’ll focus on the relationship between Usage Meter and vCenter server for the purposes of this blog post.
The Simple Deployment
Description: The simple deployment is when a partner has a single Partner ID, a single contract and only one production deployment
This is a very straight forward deployment and typical used by most of the partners in the program. It is simple and straight forward.
Things to look out for:
In this scenario the partner is not utilizing some of the program benefits, like Cloud Demonstration Environments, Internal Use Licenses. When the benefits are planned to be used, its best to consider deploying them in another vCenter and separating the environments
The Multiple Solution Deployment
Description: The partner has a mix of licenses and/or technologies used. In this case the partner uses vSphere for Virtual Machines as well as Horizon View for Virtual Desktops. The partner also has an Internal IT environment and a Cloud Demonstration environment.
In this deployment, we have not connected Usage Meter to the Internal IT or Horizon View environment. This is because Horizon View is not a metered product at this time.
Things to look out for:
if a Horizon View vCenter is connected to Usage Meter, it will incorrectly add vRAM usage to your monthly report where as Horizon is based on Concurrent Connections. In the case of Internal IT, although Usage Meter can flag license keys as Perpetual to prevent metering, a lot of partners have incorrectly mixed internal IT resources with production resources in the same cluster, causing compliance risk.
If you are worried about not having a single vCenter to log into, utilize enhanced linked mode (ELM) in vCenter to combine the vCenters under a single SSO. Usage Meter cannot traverse ELM and thus cannot meter internal resources. Since UM designates internal use at the license level, creating a new vCenter for Internal has no effect on physical separation or hardware costs.
The Multi Contract Partner
Description: This scenario is for Partners that typically operate in more than one country. In most cases, they do not have a global contract and instead have contracts in each country they operate infrastructure.
This scenario is an extension of the Simple Deployment, but replicated on a per contract basis. Why you ask? Since the Monthly Usage Report is the only valid report to use for monthly reporting and this report has no ability to show usage split into multiple logical sections, you have to use 1x Usage Meter per contract at a minimum.
Things to look out for:
Some partners will start to utilize vROps and use a single vROps instance across multiple contracts. This will cause “Unmanaged” usage to appear on the contracts. Ideally I would recommend deploying separate vROps instances, but for the sake of sanity, I would recommend creating a local user on the vROps instance for each Usage Meter and providing the corresponding credentials to the Usage Meters. Make sure that the local users specifically can only see the vCenter and vCenter child objects from that region or contract.
The Multi-Site Contracts
Description: This scenario is typical of partners that either wish to track usage for each physical location within a contract, or partners with Global Contracts who have to create a Site object in their contract to represent each country they operate in.
When a partners creates sites within their contracts on the business portal, they are logically separating all of their contract into segments that represent a physical location. At this point, they can no longer fill out the usage at the contract level, they have to fill out their usage on a per site level.
Similar to the multi-contract scenario, Usage Meter cannot split usage across regions or contracts so we need to deploy 1x Usage Meter for each site. Use of the customer monthly report for metering multiple sites or contracts within the same Usage Meter is not permitted.
Things to look out for:
- vROps leakage between sites, similar to between contracts in the previous example.
- Global contracts require the use of sites to represent each country.
Why is any of this important? Why did I spend my time reading this?
Due to the way Usage Meter was originally designed, when a partner feels like they have a clever idea to “make things easier”, they are really just taking on a risk that could lead to paying more for licensing than if they just did it right in the first place.
Ideally, I’d like to help save someone from the headache of realizing that if they just reached out to someone for help, they could have prevented penalty fees and time spent in compliance reviews.