30th January 2021

VMware HCX Licensing

VMware HCX LicensingFollowing on the migration theme just recently, I’ve had a lot of queries over the past month related to VMware HCX licensing, so thought I’d pull this post together for reference.

Remind me what is HCX again?

VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension (HCX), in its own words is:

“an application mobility platform, simplifies application migration, rebalances workloads and optimizes disaster recovery across data centers and clouds. HCX enables high-performance, large-scale app mobility across VMware vSphere and non-vSphere cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate data center modernization and cloud transformation.”

In other language, its a fantastic technology to help migrate virtual machines from ‘classic’ environments to a VMware cloud platform (VCF, VMC, AVS, GVCE, OCV etc).  It’s a technology that helps to make migrations boring, by turning the network, compute and storage migration into little more than a vMotion.

VMware HCX Licensing

VMware HCX Editions




Activates standard HCX services:

  • Hybrid interconnect
  • WAN optimization
  • Legacy vSphere to modern mobility
  • Bulk migration
  • Live migration
  • Cloud-to-cloud migration
  • Disaster protection


Activates premium HCX services:

  • HCX Replication Assisted vMotion (bulk, no-downtime migration)
  • Migrations from KVM and Hyper-V to vSphere
  • VMware Site Recovery ManagerTM readiness
  • Traffic engineering
  • Mobility groups
  • Mobility-optimized networking

VMware HCX Licensing Guide

HCX is licensed on a per-socket basis. Each physical socket at the destination needs to have at least one license key assigned to be able to run HCX. There are no limits or restrictions on the number of virtual machines or migrations.

  • HCX Advanced permits three concurrent source vCenters to connect via HCX site pairings.
  • HCX Enterprise permits 10 concurrent source vCenters to connect via HCX site pairings.

All VMware ESXi hosts connected to the destination VMware vCenter must be licensed with a package that includes HCX Advanced. If an HCX Enterprise license is required, it must be applied to all ESXi hosts connected to the destination vCenter.

VMware HCX Licensing – How to buy

You cannot buy VMware HCX on it’s own.  It is delivered as functionality in VMware software-defined datacenter (SDDC) either on premises or in the cloud.  The table below outlines the options.




VMware Cloud on AWS



VMware NSX Data Center

Included in NSX Data Center Enterprise Plus

Add-on license

VMware Cloud Foundation

Included in VMware Cloud Foundation Enterprise and VMware Cloud Foundation Platinum through its inclusion of NSX Data Center Enterprise Plus

Included in the VMware Cloud Foundation Starter Kit

Add-on license

VMware Cloud Provider Program

Included with VMware Cloud Foundation for the VMware Cloud Provider Program

Available in flex model

Add-on license Available in flex model

Metal-as-a-service offering (for example, Azure VMware Solutions)



Key points

  • For on premises? Purchase as part of VMware NSX Data Centre of Cloud Foundation entitlements
    • Every host connected to the destination vCenter must be licensed
    • Every core on those hosts must be licensed
  • Migrating from more than three vCenters at the same time? You’ll need the HCX Enterprise edition
  • Migrating from Microsoft HyperV or RedHat KVM? You’ll need the HCX Enterprise edition


Further HCX Reading