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Transfer / Downgrade Licenses and Needs

Hello all, I have some licensing downgrade questions as I'm trying to find ways to cut costs during this pandemic. We have old hardware that is EOL Q4 2021 and are planning on replacing in Q1 2021.

My environment:

  • Cluster
    • 2 HPE Hosts (Hosts 2 and 3)
    • SAN Storage Array. Hosts connected to iSCSI switches to SAN
    • vSphere 6 Enterprise (annual sub)
  • Standalone server
    • 1 HPE Host (Host 1)
    • Drives in RAID 1 (don't ask)
    • vSphere 6 standard (Paid for 5 Year in 2019)
  • vCenter Server 6 (appliance on the cluster that manages all hosts) (annual sub)

We are looking to upgrade our current cluster Hosts 2 and 3 with a new server to cluster with Host 1. The new cluster will be direct connect to the SAN. Our business is not 24/7 so I could shutdown VM's to update the hosts.

  • For licensing I want to keep vMotion which requires Essentials Plus.
  • If I could shutdown the VM's on the hosts to update the hosts, could I get rid of vCenter?  
  • Most of the features on vSphere Enterprise I don't need. Can I downgrade the enterprise to a standard?
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VMware Employee
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About the licenses :
you can still use your licenses, even if your subscription expired or you can't renew it.
The subscription entitles you to support and to future updates and patches that will be released in the time period that you have your software subscription in effect.

You can downgrade or upgrade licenses in my vmware.

In most cases licenses can be activated or changed online without problems.

The Essentials Plus Kit Each kit consists of six processor licenses for vSphere and a license for one instance of vCenter Server for Essentials

The vCenter Server for Essentials is limited to 3 hosts with vSphere Essentials and vSphere Essentials Plus.

Attached link with more details


On the new server you can install the same version of VMware vSphere you are using (if supported on the server) or a new version. Finally if you connect the new server directly to the Storage or through the SAN then you can migrate the VMs online.
By installing VMware vSphere you have an active 60-day full demo license.

Enrique Espinel
Senior Technical Support IBM, Lenovo, Veeam Backup and VMware vSphere.
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