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Monthly Archives: June 2014

VMware Bests Red Hat In OpenStack Performance, Cost Study

While the operating assumption is that the OpenStack framework works best on open source components such as KVM, a just completed study by Principled Technologies and commissioned by VMware showed otherwise. Tests showed remarkably higher performance and substantially reduced costs when using OpenStack with VMware technology including vSphere when compared to OpenStack with Red Hat components.

vmware openstack summary chart

In the study, OpenStack services were used to provision and manage the test configurations. The study equipment was identical except when published recommendations mandated a change. The test results showed:

  • VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) provided 159% more IOPS than Red Hat Storage Server (GlusterFS)
  • A Cassandra NoSQL database installation performed 53% better on vSphere than on Red Hat KVM
  • Over 3 years, the total cost of infrastructure hardware and software was 26% lower on VMware than on Red Hat 

 The study recognized two trends in enterprise computing:

  • The emergence of hyper-converged architectures that can increase performance and lower costs associated with a virtualized infrastructure by having compute, network, and storage coexist closely on physical resources.
  • An interest in the OpenStack API framework as a way to provide efficient self-service provisioning and consumption of these underlying compute/network/storage resources to deploy applications on a large scale.

Cloud Performance

VMware innovations are helping customers get enterprise-class performance when exploring the OpenStack framework as a platform for large-scale application deployment. Among these innovations, the study showed that VMware Virtual SAN played an important role in providing performance advantages. Among the most significant findings related to VMware Virtual SAN, the study noted:

  • The use of direct-attached disks on the compute hosts brought proven benefits of shared storage in the VMware environment, such as High Availability (HA) and vMotion.
  • Tight integration with the vSphere [hypervisor]; scaled easily by adding more hosts to a cluster or more storage to existing hosts. In addition, VMware Virtual SAN can be managed directly through the familiar vCenter Server™ Web client console, alongside everything else in a VMware vSphere environment.
  • Every disk chosen for Virtual SAN storage belongs to a disk group with at least one solid-state drive that serves as a read and write cache. Additional storage or hosts added to the capacity and performance of a VMware Virtual SAN data store without disruption.

For the following tables, please refer to the full study for the complete test methodology and equipment setup.

Figure 1: The amount of YCSB (Yahoo Cloud Serving Benchmark) OPS achieved by the two solutions. Higher numbers are better.

Figure 1: The amount of YCSB (Yahoo Cloud Serving Benchmark) OPS achieved by the two solutions. Higher numbers are better.

Figure 2: The amount of IOPS achieved by the two solutions. Higher numbers are better. The workload was 70/30 R/W mix, random, and 4K block size.

Figure 2: The amount of IOPS achieved by the two solutions. Higher numbers are better. The workload was 70/30 R/W mix, random, and 4K block size.

Cost Comparison

The study showed that running OpenStack on VMware components required less hardware. Using VMware vSphere with Virtual SAN also lowered software costs. In total the study showed the 3 year costs were 26 percent lower. Because each OpenStack deployment and environment is different and support engagements vary widely from installation to installation, the costs of implementing the OpenStack framework were not included for either the VMware or the Red Hat platform.

Figure 3: Projected three-year costs for the two solutions. Lower numbers are better.

Figure 3: Projected three-year costs for the two solutions. Lower numbers are better.


The study concludes:

“In our testing, the VMware vSphere with Virtual SAN solution performed better than the Red Hat Storage solution in both real world and raw performance testing by providing 53 percent more database OPS and 159 percent more IOPS. In addition, the vSphere with Virtual SAN solution can occupy less datacenter space, which can result in lower costs associated with density. A three-year cost projection for the two solutions showed that VMware vSphere with Virtual SAN could save your business up to 26 percent in hardware and software costs when compared to the Red Hat Storage solution we tested.”

As an enterprise customer, you have choices when it comes to implementing an OpenStack framework. Your selections will impact the performance and overall cost of your scale out infrastructure. With this study, VMware has demonstrated significant performance gains and cost savings in an OpenStack environment.

Read the full study here.

Identifying Questionable Assumptions in the Amazon TCO Comparison Calculator

Amazon recently launched a new version of their Total Cost of Ownerships (TCO) Calculator that compares VMware on-premises solutions to Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings. Our many customers choose us as their infrastructure platform and stay with us because we provide the best value. The Amazon calculator tries to create a different perception by using biased and inaccurate assumptions.

Stacking the Deck…Obviously

Amazon claims their calculator provides an “apples-to-apples” comparison, but in reality, it doesn’t come close to doing so. Their calculator contains biased assumptions regarding VMware’s TCO, which inflate the costs of an on-premises cloud and underestimate the true costs of using a public cloud solution.

For instance, Amazon’s calculator:

  1. Assumes a customer has no existing on-premises investment. Cost assumptions include the purchase of entirely new data center space, racks, networking switches, spare parts, etc., which would not necessarily apply to a customer making an incremental investment in their IT infrastructure.
  2. Compares VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus, our most feature-rich edition, against AWS infrastructure. vSphere Enterprise Plus includes features such as vMotion and High Availability that Amazon customers do not get. As a result, AWS customers often find they have to re-architect their applications in order to work around these missing capabilities. Beyond the basic hypervisor features, Enterprise Plus also offers Application High Availability, Storage vMotion, DRS and Storage DRS, a fully manageable distributed switch, and storage and network I/O control. Customers can get some of these features in AWS by adding on 3rd party solutions, but features like I/O control and DRS are not features that can be added on AWS. Without these capabilities, AWS lacks an effective noisy neighbor solution, forcing customers to seek other ways to manage their applications and performance. These missing features are all part of the hidden costs customers encounter when they switch to AWS and one of the key reasons they delay or cancel AWS migration projects.
  3. Assumes high hardware costs. The calculator assumes a cost of $7,851 for a server with 2, 6-core CPUs and 96GB of RAM (including support). For instance, the same configuration at Dell can be priced at $4651. These price gaps add up, especially when considering larger environments.
  4. Does not include AWS support costs. The calculator includes the cost of VMware’s highly regarded Support and Subscription service for one year whereas no costs for AWS support are included. AWS support fees can be sizable.
  5. Most IT shops are keeping their hardware longer than three years. At the end of the three-year time horizon, the VMware user owns their infrastructure and VMware software licenses. The AWS TCO Calculator truncates the comparison at the three-year mark, yet operating VMware on your on-premises data center can lower your TCO over the long-term.  It is inaccurate of Amazon’s to assume that the value of the entire private cloud investment vanishes after three years. (We would love to hear about your real-world experiences, with your hardware’s working lifespans, in the comments section.)

Another Take on VMware vs. AWS TCO: VMware’s Own TCO Calculations

We decided to take a look at how costs might look using our math. The following is a VMware version of the TCO comparison against AWS. It compares costs associated with running conventional workloads on AWS and VMware infrastructure.

Conventional Workloads TCO Comparison

In a separate VMware TCO comparison calculation for a 100 VM environment, VMware TCO is $394K compared to AWS’s $487K over a four-year period. This represents a 21% cost savings when choosing VMware.

AWS TCO Comparison

This comparison uses the following 100 VMs for AWS:

  • 50 “Small” Windows servers (1 vCPU, 4 GB RAM, only full utilized about 4 hours per day; “Light Reserved” instance)
  • 25 “Large” Windows servers (4 vCPUs, 32 GB RAM, fully utilized about 18 hours per day; “Heavy Reserved” instance)
  • 20 “Small” MS SQL servers (1 vCPU, 2 GB RAM, only fully utilized about 4 hrs per day, “Light Reserved” instance)
  • 5 “High MEM Extra Large” MS SQL Servers (2 vCPU, 16 GB RAM, 400 provisioned [guaranteed] IOPS per VM, utilized about 12 hrs. per day; “Heavy Reserved” instance)
  • For the AWS deployment, it also included Business support (24×7 phone support) and the VPC service, which provides a security perimeter for the VMs.
  • For the VMware cost it uses the ROI/TCO tool (http://roitco.vmware.com) to estimate the cost of running 100 VMs.
  • It uses vSOM Standard for the infrastructure running on 5 ESXi hosts with 2 CPUs, 6 cores per CPU, 128 GB RAM per host and 6 NICs per host. Also included in this deployment is 10 TB of SAN storage using iSCSI.

Note that for this sample environment, the calculations assumed licenses for vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) Standard, which offer more features and functionality than that of AWS and contain the features a customer truly needs for this scale environment. There are also additional AWS fees for things such as: data transfer, IP addresses, service monitoring, CloudWatch, etc. which are not captured in this TCO, but are a necessary part of running an application on AWS.


Clearly the AWS TCO Calculator does not represent a fair, “apples-to-apples” portrayal of the costs of an on-premises solution. Amazon’s calculator is underestimating AWS costs and overstating VMware costs. The costs of AWS instances are not the only factor to consider when choosing where to host workloads. Designing for AWS requires developer teams to significantly redesign their applications to account for the limitations and the quality of AWS infrastructure. With VMware, you have access to cost-effective, highly automated, secure infrastructure with a level of control and quality that provides superior value to IT and business units.

With the addition of vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), VMware now offers customers a public cloud option with faster time to value and the ability to add or reduce capacity dynamically through the use of hybrid, off-premises data centers. The combination of on-premises vSphere or vCloud Suite infrastructure with cloud-based infrastructure hosted on vCloud Hybrid Services or a vCloud Powered partner clearly provides the best hybrid cloud experience. With infrastructure running on a common technology platform (vSphere) and integrations with existing tools like vCenter, vCenter Operations, and vCloud Automation Center, VMware customers get all the benefits of a true hybrid cloud.

Edit: An earlier version of this post claimed that the VMware TCO was over a three-year time period. The correct time horizon of the VMware TCO is four years. The post has been updated to reflect this change.