When vSphere 4.1 was released a lot of people were talking about all of the amazing new features available in the product. Along with introducing many new features, VMware also shuffled around some existing features into different license levels. The one that got the most press was that vMotion was now available in vSphere Standard as well as the Essentials Plus bundle.
In my opinion one of the biggest changes isn’t being talked about much at all. In vSphere 4.1, VMware has made the use of 3rd party multipathing plug-ins available in vSphere Enterprise edition and higher. In vSphere 4 this was only available in the Enterprise Plus license, making it out of reach for smaller customers.
This link compares the features available in vSphere 4.1 and it states that vStorage APIs for Multipathing are supported in both Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. Multipathing plug-ins like EMC’s PowerPath/VE and Dell’s new EqualLogic Multipathing Extension Module allow you to have better integration and control over multipathing than VMware’s native multipathing plugins. I challenge you to say multipathing more times in one sentence than I just did.
The other really important point about VMware making this feature available in the Enterprise license is the likelihood that the Enterprise license will persist going forward. VMware had originally planned on phasing out the Enterprise license in favor of Enterprise Plus but backed down on that plan after customer complaints. They stated at the time that they expected sales of Enterprise to decrease over time as customers purchased Enterprise Plus. Taking a feature from Enterprise Plus and making it available in Enterprise shows, at least to me, a commitment to keep that license level around for the foreseeable future.