Hyperconverged Infrastructure vSAN

Cost of maintenance with HCI powered by vSAN

Part of the reality of changing consumption models of infrastructure understands the cost model that existed before you moved, and is involved afterward.

When looking for a car to commute there are a lot of ways to consume transportation. The cost of maintenance is an interesting one that multiple options can shift the cost, or make it more predictable. I’ve had cars that failed often, and cars that ran for decades with only basic service.

Inevitably if you have an older car in a dealership for repair you will approach with a sales guy who will offer a few options:

  1. Point out that a new capex expensed car could come with a 3-year warranty and would prevent these expensive out of support problems and reduce the risk of future bad events.
  2. Point out that you could quit buying cars and shift to Opex with a lease.
  3. They will get me a GREAT price just a few bucks above what it cost them!
  4. Ask about you trading in that “liability” of an old car to help reduce the downpayment on the new car.

What he will not tell you is:

  1. The newer car will eventually get old and suffer the same problems.
  2. They make these repairs and parts unnecessarily expensive to you into deciding ONE of these paths.
  3. The price of the warranty is not free especially when it is tied to a new purchase that requires you “throw away” your old purchase

Warranty lifespans and storage arrays have a common problem. They leverage support renewals to force you into total refresh purchases that you may not be ready or need to make.

Problems with support costs and purchasing in storage


Unnecessarily expensive software support for older arrays – Support renewal prices are often dramatically increased to force the purchase of a new storage array. It is not uncommon for a support renewal to increase the cost of support by 300% making the existing storage array “too expensive!” to support. This forces the conversation to be about an array replacement. HCI Software powered by vSAN has predictable support renewal pricing. This is sometimes called the “hockey stick” moment when the support price rises significantly making the TCO of continuing to operate the array untenable and rendering the existing investment in the array to be “not worth the operating costs.”

 Loss of investment  – by forcing the conversation to a “trade in” this has several negative implications. It results in a complete loss of any licensing, or feature investment. It leads to a loss of significant existing value. HCI Software powered by vSAN is purchased as a capital asset and is portable. This means the existing investment can “move” to new hardware at the time and place of your choosing.

Array vs. server support pricing – It is worth noting that support renewals for servers do not match the unpredictable pricing of the storage array market. Due to the scale of operations (millions vs. thousands of units sold), it is easy to get cost-effective support pricing for beyond three years on a server. HCI powered by vSAN leverages servers for hardware opening up the hardware part of the support renewal.

Subscription/Lease Licensing – While lease and subscription options can be attractive it’s worth understanding how these models work. Like a car lease, the payment may be consistent (and seem like a good deal early on), but there can be hidden costs. If the pricing is negotiated without an automatic reduction in cost year after year, you can be “locking in” a good price today but a less attractive term later. Support agreement prices for storage arrays that do not go up, but do not go down on a per GB cost model are just shifting when the money is made to later in the contract. HCI powered by vSAN licensing for support is tied to the socket where hardware flexibility.  Some factors will deliver a lower cost per GB per month as support is renewed. Expansion drives will become cheaper, hosts will become more populated, or vSAN licensing will be moved to “denser” hosts with more larger drives. All of these options give the customer control of easy levers to pull to lower the cost per GB of support.

It’s important to remember that as a customer you have a “vote” in how you purchase and consume storage and hyper-converged infrastructure. Purchasing support extensions for storage does not have to feel like a high-pressure car buying experience.




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