When Veeam Backup and Replication 9.4 U4 was released in January 2019, it brought with it a new licensing model called Instance licensing. The marketing machine at Veeam would have you believe this is a great thing and possibly a money saver as well as getting better value from your existing Veeam investment, which to a degree is true. There is more too it than that though, and the reason I am writing this blog post is that I get asked about what on earth an instance license is on an almost daily basis, and I only work for a reseller, not Veeam!
What’s the crack then?
Disclaimer, the information below is my own opinion and what I believe to be correct at time of publishing. Please check for yourself with a Veeam representative if further clarification is required.
Veeam Backup and replication, prior to 9.5 U4, was in one way or another, licensed per CPU socket, be that VMware or Hyper-V. Typically bought as a perpetual license, with annual support and subscription attached to it. Other products like Veeam agent for Windows or Veeam agent for Linux had their own license type associated with them and were classed as subscription-based licenses bought on an annual term as a minimum.
So what is an Instance license? Veeam have a great article here describing what it is, but what it does not do is explain the conversion rate for instance licenses and when you can and can not use them.
Let’s start with a picture, a picture I refer to a lot when sizing license counts for Veeam products.
The important thing to note here is the license edition type, Standard, Enterprise & Enterprise Plus and the number of instances each workload type will consume. A Standard Server Agent will consume 3 times as many instances as an Enterprise Plus Server Agent, however again, what is not made clear is that Enterprise Plus will cost about 3 times as much as Standard. So the amount of money required to protect a Server Agent is roughly the same, regardless of license edition. Make sense?
Another question mark around instance licensing is whether or not those lovely perpetual CPU socket based licenses have to be switched out for instance based licenses? Put simply at present, no.
There is no denying that since Veeam started some 10+ years ago, CPU technology has come a long way. Virtual machine density per physical CPU has increased significantly yet Veeams licensing model has not changed until now. Socket-based licensing can offer excellent value for money if operating a densely subscribed virtual environment. 1 Socket license may be allowing you to backup 50 VM’s. Flip that over to Instance licensing and that suddenly requires 50 instance licenses.
At this point, I don’t know how many instance licenses you would receive when ‘trading in’ existing socket based licenses other than an Essentials bundle becomes 50 Instance licenses. When purchasing Instance licenses, they have to be bought in bundles of 10. You can get an idea of how much it would cost your organisation by using the Veeam Instance license calculator.
Existing Veeam Agent licenses will be converted to Instance licenses. If you only had 1 agent, it will be rounded up to the closest minimum buy-in, which is 10. Happy days if you are on Enterprise Plus. You just got 9 free Windows Server Agent backup licenses.
A thing to note is you can not mix Instance editions. If you are running Enterprise Plus Veeam Backup and Replication and want to add 1 additional Server Agent, that’s 10 Enterprise Plus Instances to purchase.
There is a little bonus nestled away in the Veeam Instance Licensing blog I linked to earlier. You can get up to 6 free Instance licenses if you are an existing perpetual socket based customer. I believe it is one Instance per socket licensed, up to 6.
Wrap it up
If you take a holistic view of your infrastructure and where that lives, Instance license may be a great choice. It does give you true product mobility by being able to backup different workloads, in different formats in different locations. If you stop using the license a virtual machine, it can be re-used to protect some laptops or an AWS workload, etc.
It is not a one size fits all though, perpetual socket based licenses can work out better in some cases still. You need to do your homework.