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Newsflash! Microsoft Charges Less than VMware for Much Inferior Product; Promises to Release Less Inferior Product Sometime in Future

Every year, about the time VMworld starts, Microsoft can be counted to release something and it’s not one of their software products. Instead, they’ve made it a tradition to issue a plea to customers to overlook the VMware products that clearly deliver the best virtualization and cloud solutions and choose Microsoft offerings despite their shortcomings. At VMworld 2008, it was Microsoft’s poker chip fiasco. Last year, Microsoft took out full-page newspaper ads asking customers to wait for their products to mature instead of deploying VMware clouds. This year, right on cue, Microsoft published inaccurate, unsubstantiated comparisons to VMware in the form of a whitepaper purporting to evaluate private cloud economics and a big-budget spoof video that was reviewed as “backfiring on itself.”

As regular Microsoft-watchers might expect, the claims made in their private cloud whitepaper of cost and capability advantages are exaggerated and easy to pick apart. Here are a few of the most blatant inaccuracies:

Microsoft inaccuracy #1: Compare (double) discounted Microsoft prices to VMware list prices and leave out the management server costs

For starters, Microsoft is comparing double-discounted Microsoft prices to full list pricing for VMware’s products. Not only is Microsoft basing their comparison on “Open License” prices that already have volume discounts applied, but they go on to apply “ECI” discounts as well, even though the configurations in their examples are far smaller than the 50-processor minimum required by Microsoft’s own ECI rules.  Microsoft’s next trick is omitting the cost of the multiple System Center management servers needed to deliver the capabilities they claim, even though they include the cost of a VMware vCenter Management Server in their VMware totals. Adding the System Center management server license and support costs and the Windows Server licenses needed to run them and using list prices is enough to more than double the cost of Microsoft’s example private cloud configuration from $18,480 to $41,141, as shown below (we’re still applying their ECI discounts, even though the configuration is too small to qualify.)




List Price w/ 3 years of SA

Total Cost

ECI Datacenter*




Windows Server 2008 Standard**




System Center Configuration Manager w/ SQL




System Center Operations Manager


$1,013< /p>


System Center Operations Manager w/ SQL




System Center Service Manager w/ SQL






Total Microsoft Costs


*Microsoft ECI Datacenter bundle purchase rules require minimum purchase of 50 processor licenses making Microsoft’s two-node cost example invalid.

**Seven Windows Server 2008 licenses are required for the System Center management servers.

Microsoft inaccuracy #2: Compare unreleased future products to shipping VMware products

Microsoft always likes to sell their roadmap of future promises rather than the products customers are stuck with today. Their private cloud whitepaper is no exception as it describes cloud features that won’t be available to users until Microsoft ships the next versions of System Center at some unspecified future date. Every component of our Cloud Infrastructure Suite – vSphere 5, vCenter Operations, vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5, vShield 5 and vCloud Director 1.5 – has been recently updated and is shipping today. VMware customers are building and running private clouds today and telling their success stories while, on the other hand, Microsoft doesn’t include any customer stories in their private cloud whitepaper. Once again, Microsoft is asking users to wait for yet one more release to get them the features they need.

Microsoft inaccuracy #3: Equate ECI to VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite

The most glaring exaggeration in Microsoft’s private cloud whitepaper is their assumption that the products included in their ECI Datacenter bundle (Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V, System Center, Forefront) provide private cloud capabilities equivalent to the VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite. In fact, Microsoft’s cloud solution is far less complete and capable as the comparison table below illustrates.



Cloud Infrastructure Suite


ECI Datacenter

Cloud Resource


VMware vCloud Director and vCenter Chargeback

·  Secure multi-tenancy through Virtual Datacenters

·  Automated, fast provisioning of cloud resources

·  Extensible vCloud API provides programmatic interface for cloud deployments

·  vCloud Connector provides a single pane of glass to monitor cross cloud application mobility

·  Comprehensive monitoring of cloud resource consumption, full cost transparency and accountability for self-service resource requests

SCVMM SSP 2.0, SCVMM 2012 (future release)

·         No multi-tenancy

·         Requires manual resource provisioning and deployment

·         No cloud API’s

< span style="font-family: ; color: ; mso-fareast-font-family: symbol; mso-bidi-font-family: symbol; mso-themecolor: background1">·         3rd party tools required for monitoring consumption

·         SCVMM 2012 only available in Q4 2011 or later

Operations and Management

VMware vCenter Operations Manager

·         Integrated real-time performance, capacity and configuration management

·         Self-learning, patented analytics and dynamic thresholds adapt to the environment

·         Powerful visualization and quick drill down across datacenter, cluster and host levels to quickly isolate problem root causes

·         Tight integration with vSphere, able to take advantage of advanced features

Requires multiple System Center Components

·         No self-learning analytics

·         Uses static, reactive thresholds that do not adapt to the environment generating potentially false alerts

·         Cannot take advantage of advanced features of vSphere such as DRS, Storage DRS, Network and Storage I/O Controls

Disaster Recovery

VMware Site Recovery Manager

·         Automated failover/failback and migration for reliable recovery

·         Simplified management of recovery and migration plans, replaces manual runbooks with centralized recovery plans

·         Cost-efficient replication of applications to a failover site with built-in vSphere Replication and broad support for storage-based replication

Data Protection Manager

·         Only limited site-to-site clustering capabilities

·         Requires manual runbook scripting

·         No host-based replication



and Compliance

VMware vShield

·         Virtualization-aware security and compliance for cloud infrastructures

·         Enables offload of file activity to security VM for AV scan on each host, avoiding performance bottlenecks

·         Integrated security capabilities such as network security gateway services and Web load balancing for performance and availability


·         Only an anti-virus product, not a full virtualization security suite that can create VM-level firewalls

·         Not virtualization-aware, requires in-guest agents, prone to “AV Storms” during updates and scans

·         No integrated load balancing and firewall features

Virtualization Platform

VMware vSphere

·         Consolidation of shared physical infrastructure into  tiered logical resource pools

·         Advanced features such as DRS, Storage DRS, Network I/O controls to maintain SLAs for cloud services

·         Leading performance and scalability


·         No ability to create logical resource pools

·         Cannot guarantee SLAs;  lacks advanced features present in vSphere

·         Inferior performance and scalability when under resource pressure



Microsoft inaccuracy #4: Use unrealistic scaling assumptions for Hyper‑V

Another exaggeration Microsoft makes in their whitepaper is to claim the costs of a private cloud based on Hyper-V somehow remain flat, even as the VM density increases substantially. Even with the advent of “Dynamic Memory” in Hyper-V, Microsoft’s ability to scale up the VMs per host lags way behind vSphere. As shown in independent tests of vSphere 5 and Hyper-V R2 SP1 conducted by Principled Technologies, vSphere outscales Hyper-V enabling higher VM densities. The shortcomings of Dynamic Memory were clearly apparent when the testing showed total SQL Server throughput of a Hyper-V host declining as VMs were added while a vSphere host continued to increase its throughput as VM density
grew. That means that rather than scaling from 252 to 1260 VMs with no additional hardware as the Microsoft paper implies, Hyper-V users will be steadily adding servers and all their accompanying costs as their cloud grows. A simple example that assumes six VMs per processor (realistic for Hyper-V) and Microsoft list prices shows that the flat costs claimed in Microsoft’s paper are absurd and the real costs of a Microsoft private cloud will steadily grow as VMs are added.


Microsoft inaccuracy #5: Make unsubstantiated claims of “best in class” performance

The Microsoft whitepaper declares, “Hyper-V provides best-in-class performance and scalability for Microsoft applications like SharePoint, SQL, and Exchange,” but no head-to-head benchmark test results are provided to support the claim. The truth is VMware vSphere 5 provides superior scalability and performance with mission-critical, demanding applications, including Microsoft’s, and we have the third-party benchmark test results to prove it.

Other distortions that need correcting

Those inaccurate claims found in the whitepaper aren’t the only ones coming from Microsoft lately. We’ve seen them making these other statements below in various places. Our customers know they’re absurd, but we need to set the record straight.

·         VMware sells virtualization, not cloud – False. Customers need to make the journey to cloud computing at their own pace and server virtualization is the most common first step, so of course VMware offers virtualization for small and large enterprises. VMware also has the products and partnerships today to deliver real cloud solutions. Microsoft can only ask customers to wait while it works on promised cloud support in future System Center releases, so we’re not exactly sure what it is they’re selling now.

·         VMware can’t see deep inside apps – Wrong. Microsoft is hoping customers accept their notion that only Windows apps running on Hyper-V can be fully monitored and managed. The truth is apps running on vSphere and VMware clouds are just as manageable, whether it is with VMware tools like vCenter Operations, vCenter Configuration Manager or vCenter Application Discovery Manager, or with Microsoft tools or third-party products. Microsoft’s suggestion that their hypervisor provides deeper insight into Windows apps is nonsense.

·         VMware doesn’t have its own public cloud – Not true. VMware hosts, manages and supports Cloud Foundry,  the world’s first open Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering that doesn’t lock users into a single framework, single set of application services or a single cloud as Microsoft Azure does. In the more mature area of IaaS clouds, VMware’s approach is to cultivate a strong ecosystem of dozens of vCloud hosting provider partners that can match customer needs far better than a proprietary cloud like Microsoft Azure that locks in your workloads with no way out.

Microsoft might serve its customers better by putting more energy into shipping real products and less into deceptive whitepapers and propaganda videos, but that’s probably wishful thinking. I expect they have their brain trust locked in a room working on defensive misinformation in advance of VMworld 2012. Until then, we’ll keep building the products and solutions VMware customers need and expect from us.

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About Eric Horschman

Eric Horschman, Product Marketing Director at VMware Eric joined VMware in 1999 where, as product manager, he brought the first x86 server virtualization product to market and helped establish VMware as the leader in enterprise virtual infrastructure. Since then, he’s worked to launch and market a broad set of VMware enterprise platforms. Currently, Eric leads product marketing for Azure VMware Solution as part of the VMware Cloud Infrastructure Business Group.

3 thoughts on “Newsflash! Microsoft Charges Less than VMware for Much Inferior Product; Promises to Release Less Inferior Product Sometime in Future

  1. Hyper-V Curious

    You can try to paint it any way you like but, the new pricing MASSIVELY increases my SMB cost for VMWare product. MASSIVELY increases the cost!
    Meanwhile, I can buy an inexpensive server license, which I have to buy anyway(!) and get and increasingly feature rich and robust virtualization platform for free. The VMWare license alone for a minimal configuration with vMotion and a stringently capped vRAM limit costs $5,000. The same feature set is included FREE with Hyper -V. How can you possibly justify this? How can I possibly justify this?
    VMware has always increased deployment costs, but those increases were previously justified by the ROI and long term savings. With the new “improved” pricing that ROI disappears and the long term savings evaporate for the smaller deployment. May be the pricing is cheaper for the huge data centers, but I doubt it.
    In the mean time you can count me among the Hyper-V curious because VMWare just priced themselves right out of the SMB budget.

  2. Eric Horschman

    Hyper-V Curious,
    As an SMB customer, you’ll want to look into the vSphere Essentials bundles. They are designed to give smaller businesses the same virtualization and high availability benefits that large enterprises enjoy, but at a fraction of the cost of the higher-end vSphere editions. vSphere Essentials bundles support servers totalling up to 6 processors and include a vCenter Server. Pricing starts asa low as $83 per processor. The attractive pricing of vSphere Essentials is a big reason why VMware is the popular choice for virtualization in the SMB market. In fact, Gartner surveys show 88% of midmarket customers are using VMware.
    We’ll do a post on vSphere Essentials here soon to expand on just how compelling an offering it is for SMBs.

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