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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Setting Microsoft Straight on the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP)

During the recent Microsoft Partner Conference, slides were presented at a session to service providers comparing the costs of hosting with vSphere versus Hyper-V.  These slides eventually made their way to the public and got picked up by the press.  However, the information presented was fundamentally incorrect.

Based on the slides that became public, it is clear that Microsoft is continuing their quest to distract customers from their lack of available product with an easy tagline to remember: “Microsoft is 1/3rd 1/5th 1/6th 1/4th the cost of VMware”.  Too bad none of these claims ever stand up to scrutiny.  It is also clear from the slides that Microsoft has not figured out the difference between vSphere pricing and the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) pricing as they are quite different.  Besides these obvious errors, the comparisons are simply useless because they are essentially trying to compare the cost of apples to the cost of fruit baskets.

Let’s start with the first slide regarding the total cost of ownership (see here).  The slide is supposed to portray how the vCloud Premier bundle is 4 times the cost of Microsoft’s Service Provider program.  But what exactly is included in the Microsoft program as depicted?  Licenses for Windows Server Datacenter Edition and System Center Server Management Suite.  What is included in the vCloud Premier Service Provider bundle? 

  • vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus
  • vCenter Server
  • vCenter Chargeback
  • vCloud Director with vShield
  • Full vShield Edge
  • Production Support and Subscription

It is always difficult to perfectly line up different vendors’ product offerings, so let’s look at it piece-by-piece based on the features and capabilities that a service provider wants and benefits from, starting with the virtualization platform.

Virtualization Platform

The foundation for cloud computing is the virtualization platform.  For service providers who need rock hard stability and reliability, the choice in platform is vital to the success of the rest of the solution.  That is why the Premier bundle includes the Enterprise Plus edition of vSphere 5 that carries all of the most advanced features of virtualization.  These unique features to Enterprise Plus are unmatched by any other virtualization vendor. 

vSphere remains the only virtualization solution able to deliver live storage migration without any downtime, saving SPs from application downtime for storage maintenance.  That technology has been further enhanced to enable Storage DRS – automated load balancing of VM files among storage arrays, which further improves storage efficiency.  And, to simplify how storage is managed, VMware Profile-Driven storage allows SPs to streamline storage provisioning and save on both capex and opex by optimizing VM placement across the tiers of storage pools.

With Auto Deploy, SPs can deploy bare metal vSphere hosts “on the fly” saving hours in provisioning time.  Once the environment is up and running, Auto Deploy also helps cut down on patching time by pushing out updated images rather than scheduling patch windows.

VSPP also offers a Standard bundle that includes the Enterprise edition of vSphere and distributed network switch.  The Enterprise edition of vSphere is still far superior to Hyper-V but it would make for a closer comparison than Enterprise Plus:


Cloud Provisioning

VMware vCloud Director gives customers the ability to build secure cloud infrastructures that dramatically increase datacenter efficiency and business agility. Coupled with VMware vSphere, the foundation for cloud computing architectures, VMware vCloud Director changes the way IT delivers and manages infrastructure services and the way users access and consume these services by pooling virtual infrastructure resources and delivering them to users as a catalog-based service

In comparison, Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal (SCVMM SSP) lacks the capabilities necessary for building cloud environments such as – support for multi-tenancy on shared infrastructure, automated resource provisioning, and application catalogs.


An integrated chargeback solution is necessary for SPs to accurately track and charge their end customers.  VMware vCenter Chargeback is a fully-integrated chargeback solution that can track costs for power, cooling, real estate, software licenses, and maintenance, while allowing the service providers to customize and configure costs for their business model.  Designed specifically for vSphere and vCloud Director, vCenter Chargeback can meter resources like broadband network traffic, public IP addresses, and other services (e.g. DHCP, NAT, firewall) in addition to standard CPU, memory, and storage metering.  vCenter Chargeback is included in both the Standard and Premium bundles.

Microsoft does not have a chargeback solution.  Service providers are left with developing their own solutions or purchasing tools from 3rd party vendors. 


One of the main concerns of cloud computing is security.  VMware revolutionized virtualization security with the introduction of the vShield family of products – a leading virtualization-aware security solution designed specifically for vSphere.  Service providers can utilize the perimeter protection, port-level firewall, and NAT and DHCP services that are built directly into vCloud Director as part of the Standard bundle.  With the Premier bundle, SPs get upgraded to the full vShield Edge suite that adds site-to-site VPN and load balancing.

Microsoft does not offer a comparable security solution to protect virtualized infrastructure, relying on traditional physical security solutions that come at an extra cost to service providers.


Lastly, the VSPP bundles include Production Support and Subscription (SnS) to provide SPs the confidence that VMware is ready to help.  Production SnS provides global 24×7 support with fast response times and unlimited support requests.  SPs also have access to all product updates and upgrades during the active terms of the contract.

Microsoft’s SPLA does not offer technical support.  Technical support must be purchased separately as described in the license agreement:

“Obtain support from Microsoft under a separate agreement (Microsoft Premier Support or support services through the Microsoft Professional support program) or through a third-party support services provider.”

Comparing Apples to Fruit Baskets

Microsoft’s SPLA is by no means comparable to the full suite of solutions offered in VSPP.  It is a hard stretch for Microsoft to even consider comparing the SPLA to the VSPP Premier bundle on the basis of vSphere’s Enterprise Plus edition alone:


Going back to Microsoft’s cost comparison, it is more representative to look at the Standard bundle even though there is still a huge feature mismatch. Microsoft does not publish their SPLA pricing so we will use the figures and configurations from their slide.

SPLA licensing is per processor while VSPP licensing is per GB of reserved virtual RAM. The VSPP pricing shown below is based on list price for the Standard bundle and assumes that 100% of the virtual memory is reserved. With VSPP however, service providers can choose to optimize their resources by reserving less so calculations are shown for pricing at 80% reservation and the minimum of 50% reservation. Additionally, this VSPP pricing does not take into account discounts offered when providers commit to a minimum monthly usage level.

Under VSPP, service providers are only charged for powered-on VMs so although a provider maybe charging end users a flat monthly rate for resources regardless of usage, VMware does not charge the provider until a VM is powered-on. Since the SPLA licensing is per processor, the service provider does not get this benefit.

Microsoft makes further claims in this slide here that VSPP pricing rises exponentially while SPLA rises linearly. Microsoft is again trying to fool customers by increasing the VM count while also increasing the size of the VMs. Based on the same size VM, VSPP pricing increases linearly as the VM count rises.


Based on this configuration under VSPP, a service provider could deploy at least another 200 VMs on the same hardware.


Don’t be fooled by Microsoft’s latest claims. The vCloud Service Provider bundles are feature rich offerings designed to include all the necessary components for building a true cloud service. With VSPP you get the entire fruit basket and not just a bad apple. Microsoft is not even close to offering the core virtualization platform, cloud provisioning, chargeback, security, and support capabilities offered through VSPP. Additionally, VMware gives service providers access to over 250,000 customers who have already built their infrastructure on compatible VMware technology.