I had a great question earlier in the week from someone wanting to understand where and how to use the vSphere Essentials kits and the ROBO kits
So here we go VMware vSphere Essentials Kits vs ROBO Kits!
VMware vSphere Essentials Kits vs ROBO Kits
The vSphere Essentials and ROBO products fill two different needs.
vSphere Essentials Pack is a license that entitles the purchaser to run up to three dual CPU ESXi hosts managed by an included vCenter server essentials edition. There is no limit to the number of virtual machines (VMs) that can be run on those hosts and kits are available to enable both Standard and Enterprise Plus features. Packs must be independent of each other, for example the vCenter Server Essentials cannot be used to manage other server hosts not included with this kit.
vSphere ROBO Pack is a license that entitles the purchaser to run up to 25 VMs on ESXi hosts outside of the datacenter. The key differential from vSphere Essentials being that the number of hosts required to run those 25 VMs is not limited. Packs can be combined to increase entitlements. But there is a maximum of 25 VMs that each licence pack supports. Packs are sold in Standard, Advanced or Enterprise editions, with enterprise features including elements such as data encryption and distributed resource scheduling. vSphere ROBO packs do not include the vCenter server license required to manage any environment, and a vCenter foundations or standard license must be purchased separately to support.
A maximum of 1 ROBO pack can be deployed per remote site or branch office. However, customers can also choose to distribute a pack of 25 Virtual Machines across sites (e.g. 10 VMs in Site 1 and 15 VMs in Site 2).
Essentials Kits are a good fit where you have a need to provide robust IT infrastructure to a location, where you may need to deploy more than 25 VMs. The three ESXi host licence is deliberate so that if required a highly available ‘n+1‘ hosting solution can be provided. The downside on this model is that it cannot be expanded and combined with additional hosts or essentials kits in the same vCenter. Further the number of virtual machines, whilst not capped, it is effectively limited by 2 processor per ESXi host limitation.
ROBO kits are a good fit where you need to provide IT infrastructure to a location or multiple locations, but the obvious constraint is the 25 VM limit, the upside is that there is no host limit, so if you wanted to deploy 25 VMs on 25 ESXi hosts go for it. You could also deploy those same 25 VMs to 50 ESXi hosts with local fault tolerance if there was a need for it! The licences are flexible, in that 25 VM ROBO licence could be split across multiple sites, but do consider that only 1 ROBO license can be deployed per site.
The vSphere Essentials and ROBO products fill two different edge use cases and needs. When considering how to structure licensing for an enterprise, VMware cannot be accused of not providing options!