Yes, you need two licenses: one for ESXi and one for vCenter. Veeam requires your host have some paid license in order to backup VMs. For small numbers of hosts, you can use "kit" licensing like Foundations or Essentials which has both types of licenses.
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Well.... Veeam doesnt need a vCenter... just a licensed ESXi with enabled APIs. But the cheapest license is the vSphere Essentials Kit which comes with 3x2CPU ESXi Lics and one vCenter Essentials Instance. So you get a vCenter.... but again its technicaly not needed from a veeam perspective. The vCenter gives you a lot of Features so go for it!
vSphere Essentials Kit costs around 470,- and 60,- for 1Y Subscription.
You will need to license the ESXi host(s) as well as the vCenter server. However, if this is for a home or test lab, take a look at the VMUG Advantage program. For $180, you receive licesning for a number of VMware products, including vCenter Standard and ESXi.
VMUG Advantage Info:
my understanding now is if I purchase the vCenter Essentials it will give me a licence for vCenter and a licence for the host.
(up to three hosts with two CPUs each)
is there a limit to VM's on this licence?
No the is no VM limit within the cheap vSphere Essentials Kit.