vSphere4 has a few tiers for licensing features but do the tiers make you cry? VMware vSphere4 has some really good additions to the product like Distributed Switch, Host Profiles, and Thin Provisioning. I am not totally heart broken over the different pricing options for vSphere4 but I do not completely agree with how the features are laid out in each tier. There is one feature or product addition not included in any of the lower tier purchasing options that I think should be in particular. That feature or addition is Host Profiles. If the option includes High Availability (HA) then it should also come with Host Profiles in my opinion. These two options together are like having a hammer and nail in your toolbox.
Host Profiles, if you don’t know, allows you to take an ESX host and create or set a baseline from it that you can use to standardize other ESX hosts. Once you have a host profile configured you can scan other ESX hosts for compliance and vCenter will report on any configurations that do not match the host profile. The Host Profile can be modified to fit your need and even exported. One of the main issues with ESX clusters I have found is with a misconfiguration of one or more hosts in the cluster. Scripting can be done at no cost to configure ESX hosts with the same settings today during installation and after. But not every one has the time or know how write scripts. There is also the issue with standard host changes that occur after the initial setup which require scripts to be updated and maintained.
With Host Profiles this is a much simpler task but unless you pay for the Enterprise Plus licensing option, your out of luck right now. So, why was it left out of the lower tier pricing options? My only guess is for monetary reasons. Making this one change to the purchasing options could help people make that choice of which hypervisor to choice much easier for those who are looking at the lower tier options that do not need vmotion, DRS, etc. And give more peace of mind to current customers who do not have Enterprise Plus for all their clustered ESX hosts.