ROBO Solutions – The SDDC Perspective: Part 1 Dispelling the Myths of ROBO Licensing

Are you wondering what VMware technologies are available for your remote sites? And are you trying to determine will the solutions for your remote sites be cost effective while at the same time delivering true value add to the business? Then read on….

This three-part mini blog series takes a focus on Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO), SDDC Solutions, with a simple, agile and automated approach to compute, storage and networking with VMware vSphere, vSAN and NSX technologies. The first part of this blog series sets the scene for what ROBO solutions are and demystifies some of the confusion and myths around licensing for ROBO Solutions. The second and third parts will take a closer look respectively from a vSAN and NSX technology perspective in a ROBO context specifically.

The promise of the Software Defined Datacentre is to provide an abstraction of the traditional Datacentre hardware tenants in compute, storage and networking in a private, public and hybrid cloud context. This abstraction of hardware services enables them to be automated and policy based entirely controlled by software.

VMware’s vision is that there is a Digital Foundation on which SDDC is built and this brings a consistency of Solution Architecture Design and Interface to the Customer regardless of whether the SDDC Solution is at the Edge, in the Core DC or Cloud Provider.

Asystec helps our customers provide SDDC solutions for their business at the Edge, Core and Cloud.

Typically speaking a ROBO location will have;

  • A lack of IT staff on-site
  • A solution that has limited site-specific workloads with a lower consolidation ratio
  • A solution that does not host common Enterprise Applications as they these are located normally in the Core DC solutions.

This does not mean ROBO solutions do not play a key role in the overall success of a business. Taking for example retail stores, bank outlet offices, healthcare and manufacturing plants where the number of sites can be vast, but the function of the ROBO solution is still critical to that office function. Business’s are looking for consistency of services (think storage and security policies) delivered as well as the ability to stand up a new ROBO solution quickly.

VMware vSphere, vSAN and NSX technologies can be leveraged for ROBO Solutions (just like the Core DC and Cloud Solutions) to provide a consistent compute, storage and network policy to the remote sites. The number of VM workloads running in a site can vary from 5, to 20, to 50. VMware has provided commercial licensing options so that depending on the number of VMs, Nodes/Servers and CPU Sockets present in a particular site, a suitable licensing option can be chosen. The concept of a ROBO license exists to enable customers to license a number of sites with the same license pack covering up to 25 VM workloads.

Let’s take a scenario of five ROBO sites, each with five Virtual Machine Servers hosted on two Physical Servers and each Physical Server is a Single CPU Socket Server. One ROBO 25 VM license pack would cover the 5 sites and commercially be a cheaper option than purchasing 10 CPU socket-based licenses. The opposite scenario whereby there is a higher VM density of 25 VMs per site, a ROBO license approach would prove the opposite and the socket-based license approach may prove cheaper. What needs be noted at design time is that ROBO licensing may not provide all the features required, and that CPU socket-based licensing may need to be procured in order to ensure a particular product feature is present in the solution. Below are licensing tables covering features provided for relevant vSphere, vSAN and NSX ROBO Editions;


Now that ROBO licensing is fully explained it is essential to be clear that this is a commercial option and not an architecture decision. A common source of confusion is that all ROBO Solutions require ROBO licensing. This is not the case and should only be done if it makes commercial sense while at the same time ensuring product features required are covered by the level of licensing applied.

VMware vSAN and VMware NSX technologies from a ROBO context will be explored and detailed further in part 2 and part 3 of this blog series. Stay tuned!