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Flawed Logic Behind Microsoft’s Virtualization and Private Cloud Cost Comparisons

Microsoft has published a blog article claiming that VMware’s Cost-Per-Application Calculator admits VMware’s costs are higher.

VMware’s Cost-Per-Application calculator is designed to rebut Microsoft claims that Hyper-V is five to ten times cheaper. It shows that the acquisition cost with even VMware’s highest edition – vSphere Enterprise Plus is at parity with Microsoft and actually beats Microsoft for most configurations. For example, the blog shows a comparison result from the VMware calculator using servers that have 64GB RAM. A comparison using servers with 128GB RAM, the more common configuration, shows that the total cost with VMware is at parity with Microsoft.

When customers do cost comparisons for themselves, they’ll have to decide what is important to their deployment. Can they risk looking only at the initial licensing costs or is it important to plan for ongoing support and maintenance as well. VMware’s Cost-Per-Application calculator aids customers in comparing the total acquisition costs of a virtual infrastructure and not just the software cost.

VMware’s calculator takes a conservative approach by not including the support cost for Microsoft as Microsoft Premier Support is billed by the hour and the usage varies from customer to customer. Once the incremental support cost is added for Microsoft, the acquisition cost with VMware is at parity or less in all scenarios.

In addition, vSphere Enterprise Plus has far better functionality than Hyper-V as shown by the feature comparison table in the Cost-Per-Application calculator detailed results.

Following are the discrepancies in Microsoft’s claims. A fair cost comparison for virtualization and private cloud platform is also outlined below.

The incremental cost of Microsoft Premier Support  needs to be added to Microsoft’s total cost. VMware’s Support and Subscription Services (SNS) entitles a customer to not only all software releases and updates but also VMware’s Technical Support. Microsoft “Software Assurance” (SA) does not provide similar technical support access. Customers must either purchase “Premier Support” separately from Microsoft (at >$200 per hour) or use third party services.

The claim that Dynamic Memory improvements in Hyper-V 2012 will reduce the 20% VM density advantage VMware calculator assumes is unsupported. The improvement in “Dynamic Memory” that the blog refers to, is only a feature that allows host-level memory swapping during VM startup. VMware’s published third party tests that showed the 20% VM density advantage were based on running steady-state VM workloads and not VMs that were booting up. The steady state scenario is more representative of a production datacenter.

The VMware vSphere VM density advantage derives from its use of five levels of memory management technology.  Hyper-V 2012, like previous versions, continues to employ just “memory ballooning” and that limitation handicaps its VM density.

Once the incremental cost of Microsoft Premier Support is considered, Microsoft’s total costs are at parity even with VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus edition. Following comparison shows the cost of deploying 12 VMs/host for Microsoft and 14 VM/host for VMware for a 100 VM virtualization deployment using dual socket, 6-core servers with 128GB RAM.

Virtualization Platform: Acquisition cost comparison using VMware vSphere and Microsoft Windows Hyper-V 2012

Next, let’s take a look at the private cloud solution stack comparison suggested by Microsoft to point out the flaws in their analysis.

vFabric APM and Service Manager costs need to be excluded for VMware. It seems Microsoft wasn’t paying attention when VMware announced the “Extension of Cloud Management Capabilities with vCloud Suite Updates” in October 2012. Monitoring of operating systems, web servers, application servers, mail servers, database, messaging middleware, network, virtualization platform and application platform is now included in VMware vCloud Suite Enterprise. In addition, vCloud Suite Enterprise also includes vCloud Automation Center that automates several cloud delivery services across private and public clouds.

The additional costs a customer has to incur with 3rd party solutions given the lack of various critical features in the Microsoft stack needed to be added. In addition, the total acquisition cost, beyond the cost of software licenses only, needs to be considered. Following is an estimation of the additional cost to acquire missing functionalities from 3rd parties.

(The3rd party products are examples of equivalent technology only and do not imply support for Window Hyper-V.)

Following is a cost comparison for a private cloud deployment for 100 VMs using dual socket, 6-core servers with 128GB RAM.

Private Cloud: Acquisition cost comparison using VMware vCloud Suite vs. Windows-based Private Cloud

Finally, VMware vCloud Suite is designed and built for virtual and cloud infrastructures and is far more efficient, reliable and robust compared to Microsoft Windows based private cloud solution.

The Microsoft blog is yet another attempt to artificially inflate VMware’s prices and distract customers from the shortcomings of their own products.



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Chanda Dani

About Chanda Dani

Chanda Dani has been with VMware since May 2010. She has worked in various product marketing roles across the Software-Defined Datacenter product portfolio and currently does product marketing for VMware's cloud management products - vRealize Suite, vCloud Suite and vRealize product lines. Follow her on twitter: @chanda_dani

9 thoughts on “Flawed Logic Behind Microsoft’s Virtualization and Private Cloud Cost Comparisons

  1. Pingback: VMware admits Hyper-V is cheaper in some cases — Updated - The Virtualization Room

  2. Rob McShinsky

    Adding Premier Support is not a necessity or required when running Hyper-V, but I do admit it is a very nice add-on. What gets lost in translation however when you add Premier Support as a line item is that the contract is not just for supporting Hyper-V and all the System Center components. It is to support all of your Microsoft products as well as a broad range of proactive health checks and educational opportunities as part of the contract. Even all the unlimited Windows Server VM licenses living on your Datacenter Edition host would be supported. So there really is more value than stated in the Premier Support contract and it is not a true apples to apples comparison to the equivalent SNS.

    We are at the point where we are splitting hairs here on actual cost. Lets get back to producing new innovative features.

  3. Joe Conklin

    14 VMs on 8 host seem really low… Obviously it leaves much to imagination and assuming the VMs are high I/O VMs needing so many resources, still 14 VMs to 8 physical servers seem low.

  4. nate

    What if they don’t need all that extra add-on stuff? I’ve been using ESX since 3.5 and vmware in general since it was a linux-only application and I’ve never used nor felt the need to use most of those advanced add-on features in the higher end versions of vSphere.

    In fact if it wasn’t for past licensing issues I would be perfectly happy with standard edition w/vMotion. But due to memory and/or CPU core restrictions vmware has forced me into higher tiers. I think 5.1 did away with most of those restrictions, our last round of purchases was just after 5.0 came out (Currently running 4.1U3 with no plans to upgrade to 5).

    There’s certainly a point there, in my experience MOST users don’t need that stuff. About the only thing I use DRS for is for affinity.

  5. John Walker

    MS ist simply trying to do it as it did with Exchange and SQL-Server. Thats not really a new strategy. In a first step, everything is cheap or even with no cost, later pricing is changed….

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