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Licensing ESX 4.x, ESXi 4.x, and vCenter Server 4.x

Symptoms

  • Unable to remove ESX 4.x/ESXi 4.x from Evaluation Mode
  • Unable to upload the license file for vSphere
  • Unable to connect vSphere 4.x to vCenter Server
  • Unable to activate vSphere

Purpose

This article provides steps to add, assign, remove, unassign, and change the licenses of ESX 4.x, ESXi 4.x, and vCenter Server 4.x.

Resolution

 
You can add any number of licenses to the vSphere 4.x inventory. When assigning licenses in 4.x products, you can create a relationship between an asset and a license key. Each asset can be licensed by one, and only one, license key. Alternatively, it can be unlicensed and in Evaluation Mode.
 
Note: To perform these steps, your vSphere Client must be connected to the vCenter Server.
 
Adding License Keys

To add licenses:
  1. Log in to the vSphere Client.
  2. Click Home. Under the Administration section, click the Licensing icon.
  3. Click Manage vSphere Licenses.
  4. Enter the License Key in the Enter new vSphere license keys field (one per line).
  5. Include labels for new license keys as necessary.
  6. Click Add License Keys.

    After clicking Add License Keys, you can review the license keys you added, capacity counts, expiration dates, and labels associated with the license keys.

  7. Click Next to assign the license keys.
Assigning License Keys

To assign the license keys to vCenter Server or the ESX host:
  1. Log into the vSphere Client.
  2. Click Home. Under the Administration section, click the Licensing icon.
  3. Choose Evaluation Mode and expand the list. Find the product you want to license.
  4. Right-click on the product and choose Change License Key.
  5. Assign a key from list was entered previously on Manage License window.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Verify the product is licensed now.

    Note: When the cursor is hovered over 
    a license key in the Manage vSphere Licenses wizard displays a tool tip with all of the asset's information.

Removing License Keys

To remove license keys:
  1. Log in to the vSphere Client.
  2. Click Home. Under the Administration section, click the Licensing icon.
  3. Click Manage vSphere Licenses.
  4. Click Next.
  5. Click Next.
  6. Choose the license key you want to remove.
  7. Click Next to proceed to the confirm changes page.

    You can review your changes on the Confirm Changes page before applying them to your inventory.

  8. Click Finish to apply all of the changes.

Unassigning License Keys

To unassign a license key from a vSphere ESX host, choose one of these options:
  • Remove the ESX host from the vCenter Server inventory
  • Add a new license key and re-license the ESX host with it. This frees the initial license key that was assigned to the host. 

    Note: A license key already assigned to an ESX host cannot be removed from the inventory.

Changing License Keys

To license your product with a different license key:

  1. Click Home. Under the Administration section, click the Licensing icon.
  2. Expand the product you want to change the license for.
  3. Right-click on the product and choose Change License Key.
  4. Choose the license you want to use to license the product.

    Note
    From this dialog you can place a product in Evaluation Mode during the first 60 days.
Licensing ESX/ESXi 

To license a standalone ESX or ESXi 4.x (vSphere Hypervisor):
  1. Log in to the ESX/ESXi host using vSphere Client.
  2. Click the Configuration Tab.
  3. Click Licensed Features under Software.
  4. Click Edit under Licensed Features.
  5. Select Assign a new license key to this host.
  6. Press Enter and enter the License Key.
  7. Click OK.

    For more information on downloading and licensing the free vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 4.x), see Downloading and licensing vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi 4.x) (2014102).

Licensing vCenter Server

To license vCenter Server 4.x:
  1. Log in to the vSphere Client.
  2. Click HomeUnder the Administration section, click vCenter Server settings.
  3. Select Assign a new license key to this vCenter Server and click OK.
  4. Enter the license key for the vCenter Server and, if necessary, include labels.
  5. Click Next and Finish.

Notes

  • You cannot add an ESX/ESXi 4.x host to the vCenter Server if it is licensed with the free version (vSphere Hypervisor) of the license key. For related information see, Adding an ESXi host to vCenter Server 4.0 fails with the error: Host cannot be added to the VCenter as there are not enough Virtual Center Agent Licenses (1018275).
  • If you are managing ESX 3.x hosts on vCenter Server 4.0, ensure to select Reconfigure my ESX 3 hosts using license servers to use this server and enter the IP address of the license server in the text box. For more information, see Configuring a legacy license server to manage ESX/ESXi 3.x hosts in vCenter Server 4.0 (1010704).

Evaluation

In the evaluation mode, you can access and use all features of ESX. The evaluation period is 60 days and begins as soon as you power on the ESX machine. To make full use of the evaluation period, make an early decision on whether to use evaluation mode. If you do not enter a vSphere license key during installation, ESX is installed in the evaluation mode. 

Note: Select the evaluation option to enable the evaluation mode. You do not receive a license key for evaluating vSphere.

Based on VMware KB 1010839


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