License reporting and management are centralized.

All product licenses are encapsulated in 25-character license keys that you can manage and monitor from vCenter Server.

Licensing is applicable to ESX/ESXi hosts, vCenter Server, and solutions. However, solutions licensing management is specific to the solution. For solutions, licensing can be based on processors, asset instances, virtual machines, and so on. Therefore, the licensing for a solution such as VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager might differ entirely from the licensing of another solution. For information about licensing a specific solution, see the documentation for that solution.

In terms of licensing hosts, if you upgrade all your hosts, you no longer need a license server or host-based license files.

Each host requires a license and each vCenter Server instance requires a license. You cannot assign multiple license keys to a host or to a vCenter Server system. You can license multiple hosts with one license key if the key has enough capacity for more than one host. Likewise, you can license multiple vCenter Server instances with one license key if the key has a capacity greater than one and you can license multiple solutions with one license key if the key has a capacity greater than one. When you apply a minor upgrade or patch the ESX/ESXi or vCenter Server software, you do not need to replace the existing license key with a new one.

If you upgrade the edition of the license (for example, from standard to enterprise), you must replace the existing license key in the inventory with a new upgraded license key.