VMware vCenter License Cost and Editions Comparison

Currently there are 3 different VMware vCenter licenses, 2 of which are separate from vSphere. To help you make the right choice from them, this article will make a vCenter license comparison to present the different vCenter license cost.


By Crystal / Updated on March 8, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Case: VMware vCenter License Cost?


Hello, what would be the true cost of buying hardware and license for vcenter? I already have 3 esxi servers but management is a bit of a nightmare. I got about 120 VMs.

- Question from www.reddit.com

If you use the type-1 hypervisor VMware ESXi, you must also know about VMware vCenter Server. vCenter Server is the centralized management utility for VMware, allowing you to manage ESXi hosts, multiple virtual machines and other dependent components in vSphere from a single interface.

VMware vCenter Server

To use vCenter Server, you need to subscribe corresponding licenses. You can use the free license on standalone ESXi hosts, but there are significant limitations since the special APIs cannot be used. And free ESXi cannot be managed by vCenter Server.

Unlike ESXi hosts are licensed with vSphere licenses on a per-processor basis, vCenter Servers are licensed on a per-instance basis. If you want to buy a new vCenter license when you starting use vCenter Server or your vCenter license expired, this article will provide a VMware vCenter editions comparison and introduce the vCenter license cost for you to refer.

VMware vCenter editions comparison

Depending on the used license, there are 3 editions of VMware vCenter Server 7.0: vCenter Server for Essentials, vCenter Server Foundation, and vCenter Server Standard. vCenter Server licenses for Standard or Foundation, are sold separately from vSphere licensing, where vCenter Server Essentials licensing is included with a vSphere Essentials/ Essentials Plus Kit.

Each version of vCenter Server comes with a different set of features which may or may not be suitable for every environment. It’s important to understand the differences between the licensing options for all 3 supported versions of vCenter Server and which one best fits your environment.

Licensing for vCenter Server

This part will cover VMware vCenter compare editions to show the differences between them.

vCenter Server for Essentials

vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus are kits designed with the SMB space in mind and are getting started with virtualization. Unlike when purchasing vSphere Standard, Enterprise, etc. where the vCenter Server license is purchased separately, the vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus kits themselves include vCenter Server.

The vCenter Server version included with vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus is called “vCenter Server for Essentials”. When bundled with vSphere Essentials, vCenter Server for Essentials allows for management of up to 3 vSphere ESXi hosts, up to 2 physical CPUs each. There is no support for vMotion or vSphere High Availability with vSphere Essentials. The creation of datacenters, clusters, etc. are available but migrations to other hosts would require a “cold migration” or powered off VM prior to migrating.

Licensing for ESXi host

The vCenter Server for Essentials bundled with vSphere Essentials Plus allows for business continuity features such as vSphere High Availability (HA), vMotion and cross switch vMotion, vSphere Replication, and optional access to vSAN.

vCenter Server Foundation

vCenter Server Foundation is sold as a separate license, provides the basic management necessary for smaller vSphere environments, but still limited in some features when compared to Standard.

vCenter Server Foundation only supports managing up to 4 vSphere ESXi hosts. This is true for vSphere starting with vSphere 6.5 Update 1 and above, older vSphere versions will support up to 3 hosts. vCenter Server Foundation does not come with vRealize Orchestrator, vCenter Server High Availability (VCHA), vCenter Server File-Based Backup and Restore, and does not support Enhanced Linked Mode (ELM).

This version of vCenter Server is best suited for environments where there will be no more than 4 vSphere ESXi hosts to manage and no requirement of some of the business continuity features.

vCenter Server Standard

vCenter Server Standard is the version containing all available vCenter Server features. It can manage up to 2000 vSphere ESXi hosts, and also brings the ability to leverage vRealize Orchestrator for automating key tasks, allows for Enhanced Linked Mode (ELM), vCenter Server High Availability (VCHA), vCenter Server File-Based Backup and Restore, as well as the vCenter Server Migration Tool (included on the ISO for all vCenter Server versions).

vCenter Server Standard is best suited for vSphere environments that have many vSphere hosts to manage, or those looking to scale out their virtual infrastructure or take full advantage a rich feature set that streamlines monitoring, orchestration, and provisioning of virtual machines. vCenter Server Standard is also sold separately from vSphere licensing.

VMware vCenter license cost

After the vCenter license comparison, you may also want to compare its exact pricing. Depending on the vCenter Server editions and support level, the vCenter Server price varies.

vCenter Server Essentials price

VMware vSphere Essentials (include vCenter Server Essentials) price:

Basic Support: $576.96/year $686.77/3years

VMware vSphere Essentials Plus Kit (include vCenter Server Essentials) price:

Basic Support: $5596.00/year $7188.44/3years

Production Support: $5781.00/year 7676.84/3years

vSphere cost

vCenter Server Foundation price

Basic Support: $2095.00/year $3013.40/3years

Production Support: $2197.00/year $3282.68/3years

vCenter Server Foundation price

VMware vCenter Server Standard price

Basic Support: $7472/year $9599.08/3years

Production Support: $7719/year $10251.16/3years

vCenter Server Standard price

Backup to protect VMware ESXi VMs from data loss

As you may already know, if you use the free VMware ESXi without vCenter Server, your options for VM backup and restore may be limited by not supporting vStorage APIs.

However, even if you pay the vCenter license cost to centrally manage ESXi virtual environments and large numbers of VMs, vCenter Server does not provide the feature of virtual machine backup. And that makes backup software a commonly accepted choice.

Here I introduce you to a VMware backup software AOMEI Cyber Backup, it enables you to backup multiple VMs in 3 simple steps, and supports both paid and free ESXi.

Agentless Backup: create complete and independent image-level backup for VMware ESXi and Hyper-V VMs.
 Support Free ESXi: support both paid and free versions of VMware ESXi.
Batch VM Backup: batch backup large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server.
Multiple Storage Destinations: backup to local drive, or network destinations like Windows share or NAS.
Automated Execution: create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.

Next, I will show you how to backup multiple VMware ESXi VMs via AOMEI Cyber Backup. You can click the following button to download the 30-day free trial.

Download Free TrialVMware ESXi & Hyper-V
Secure Download

3 steps to perform VMware ESXi VM backup

1. Bind Devices: Access to AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, navigate to Source Device > VMware > + Add VMware Device to Add vCenter or Standalone ESXi host. And then click > Bind Device.

Add VMware ESXi host

2. Create Backup Task: Navigate to Backup Task > + Create New Task, and then set Task Name, Backup Type, Device, Target, Schedule, and Cleanup.

  • Device: batch select large numbers of VMs managed by vCenter Server for centralized backup.

Select virtual machines vCenter

  • Target: select to back up to a local path, or to a network path.
  • Schedule (optional): perform full, differential, or incremental backup, and automate execution according to the frequency you specified.

Backup schedule type

  • Cleanup (optional): automatically delete the old backup copies that exceed the retention period you specified.

backup cleanup

3. Run Backup: Click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

Start Backup

Created backup tasks will be listed and monitored separately, for restoring, progress checking and schedule changing.

When restoring, you can also restore to new location to create a new VM in the same or another datastore/host directly from the backup, saving the trouble of re-configuring the new VM.

Restore to new location


When you are starting to use vCenter Server, or your vCenter license expired, you may want to buy a new vCenter license. Before you pay and install vCenter, it is important to understand the current 3 editions and vCenter Server price. In this article, I made a VMware vCenter license comparison and introduced the vCenter license cost.

It is better to make a choice based on the current requirements of your environment and its potential size. For example, if you only need to manage a small environment with 3 or 4 ESXi hosts, then vCenter Server Foundation may be the best choice for you. If you know your organization will be scaling to more than 4 ESXi hosts, considering vCenter Server Standard.

Crystal · Editor
Crystal is an editor from AOMEI Technology. She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. She is a positive young lady likes to share articles with peolpe. Off work she loves travelling and cooking which is wonderful for life.