How VMware defines Proof of Entitlement
As with most software purchases, when you acquire VMware software, it grants you rights to install and use it. Of course, these rights can differ, depending on the software, but to validate them, the documentation is mainly the same: from a paid invoice or ordering document, to online guides and terms. Collectively these form your so-called Proof of Entitlement (PoE.)
In this article you will find an overview of both the contractual documents and online sources which are relevant to ensure your VMware entitlements are up to date. It is strongly advised to have your entitlements up to date as, in case of a conflict, it is your responsibility to be able to hand over or prove your entitlements during the course of an audit.
Contractual documents – Proof of Entitlement
The contractual documents represent the documentation that is provided solely to the end user once the software is purchased. This type of documentation proves that all software is genuine, purchased legitimately and eligible for all upgrades and support and includes:
1. End User License Agreement (EULA) specifies the standard terms and conditions governing on premises software.
2. Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a specific agreement for VMware Cloud Products.
3. Purchase order defines the type of agreement program, the products, quantities, fees and any non-standard terms.
VMware offers different programs under which customers can purchase licenses:
VMware Volume Purchasing Program for more frequent, smaller, transactional buys between 25K and 175K. It provides incremental, tier-based discounts for VMware customers over a rolling two-year period
VMware Enterprise Purchasing Program for larger, planned transactions between 250K and 600K. Clients purchase VMware tokens that can then be exchanged online for licenses and associated production Support and Subscription (SnS).
VMware Subscription Purchasing Program for subscriptions
VMware Cloud Credits Purchasing Program for public/hybrid cloud deployments.
4. Amendment defines any changes made on the original/standard license agreement. An amendment can also be seen as correcting a document or improving the document and could also include supplementary information to the first document.
5. Exhibit provides additional specific information to the agreement; usually the quantities and specifications for the items to be delivered under it.
6. Support Maintenance Renewal is more of a purchase order for support renewal, specifying the products for which support is being paid, the quantities, the support level and the fees paid. Based on the support status you can make use of certain versions of the product i.e. if your support is still active you can deploy the latest version of a software program, if it is expired you can only use the version in place at the moment your support expired. Support is to be renewed annually but if you decide to stop paying for support and after a period of time you want to benefit from support again you will have to pay higher fees: (i) the applicable Services Fees for the current Services Period; (ii) the amount of Services Fees that would have been paid for the period of time that Customer had not enrolled in the Services, and (iii) a twenty-percent (20%) reinstatement fee on the sum of the Services Fees in (i) and (ii) as per the Support and Subscription Services that can be found here.
7. Support and Subscription Services (SnS) is the support agreement that defines what specific support services are available against what terms, severity levels and limitations.
VMware offers a wide range of support levels for both on premises and hosted software:
On premises support:
New! Skyline Technology – Proactive support solution for Premier Support Subscribers
Basic Support – Non-critical support, 12×5
Production Support – Production support, 24×7 for Severity 1 issues
Business Critical Support (BCS) – Personalized support delivered by a designated team
Mission Critical Support (MCS) – Priority Access to senior-level engineers and proactive account management, 24×7
Healthcare Critical Support (HCS) – Priority Access to Senior-Level Engineers with Healthcare Industry Knowledge.
Carrier Grade Support – Premier Support for Telco customers
Extended Support – Protection against security threats and severity 1 issues after a product reaches end of support
IaaS Production Support – Production Support for Infrastructure as a Service
OnDemand Services Online Support – Email Support for OnDemand Services
OnDemand Services Production Support – Production Support for OnDemand Services
SaaS Basic Support – Non-critical support for Software as a Service products, 12×5
SaaS Production Support – Production Support for Software as a Service products
Online – Proof of Entitlement
Proof of Entitlement consists also of online sources of information which represent any entitlement details that are part of your agreement and which are publicly available on VMware’s website and generally applicable to all end users. Some of these public sources are referenced in your agreement (Lifecycle Product Matrix, Technical Support Policy) but some are not (VMware Compatibility Guide, VMware Product Interoperability Matrices). In order to take advantage of all your rights it is recommended to keep track of the public sources, since VMware is periodically changing its documentation, without prior notice to its end users.
1. Lifecycle Product Matrix defines which program versions are still supported and which are taken out of support, at what moment in time. It is available here.
2. VMware Glossary defines virtualization terms as used in VMware technical documentation and training helping end users to understand the terms used in their entitlements. The glossary does not include industry terms or product-specific terms.
3. Technical Documentation includes technical manuals, release notes, tools and libraries.
4. Technical Support Policies a platform with documentation that answers frequently asked questions and provides solutions for common support, upgrade, installations and set up issues.
5. Product Guide includes licensing rules with rights and restrictions for all VMware products, a list of the applicable license metrics for each VMware product, a list of the applicable components for VMware product bundles and suites and definitions. One important aspect to be taken into account is that the Product Guide supersedes the EULA and since it is being changed almost monthly it is recommendable that the customers lock the Product Guide available at the moment of signing the agreement.
In addition to the abovementioned sources, VMware provides an online portal where end users can request reports showing their license entitlements. Still, the accuracy of the portal is not to be taken for granted.
Keeping your Proof of Entitlement comes with many advantages, from preventing financial penalties and legal costs or damaged reputation in case of an audit – to being able to provide proof that the licenses were legally obtained and installed, to ensuring the right to technical support or upgrades or even easing the set-up of software asset management. Yet, keeping track of all your PoE, especially in case of thousands of licenses from multiple different software publishers, can be, and usually is, a dreadful task.
One solution would be to store everything on a share and manage it manually. However, you have to keep in mind that this is time consuming and not very reliable in case you want to create a license entitlement overview. Another solution would be to implement a software asset management tool. Once configured, this requires trained people to manage it, but it offers you more support and insight.
Both the above solutions involve manual updates whenever new licenses are purchased. Most organizations underestimate the time and resources that need to be allocated for such a task and either end up with the work partially done or give up altogether.
Whatever solution you’d choose, you have to be aware of the fact that only the human touch will help you understand your rights regarding license entitlements. Such responsibility needs to be assigned to specialized people, either your internal license management team or an external company, to make sure everything is under control and you are prepared in case of an audit.
Since 2015, Roxana is a Software Entitlement Specialist focused on educating clients on licensing issues with Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. In her role, she works with customers to assist them in understanding and improving their software environment by reviewing their software license agreements and provide them advice regarding legal and financial risks. With a legal background, she also helps customers identify legal weaknesses in their contracts and optimize them.