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Author Archives: Tim Stephan

Who’s going to Run Linux Workloads on Microsoft Hyper-V Now?

Even taking off my VMware hat – or actually my VMware Army uniform- I doubt that many were really considering running Linux workloads on Windows Server Hyper-V in the first place. But if they were, these statements today by Bob Muglia, President of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, which includes Hyper-V, probably stopped them in their tracks.

 Microsoft States the Obvious – Linux is a Top Competitive Priority

Network World editor John Fontana, in an article titled, “Top Microsoft Execs Outline 2010 Challenges” wrote of asking Bob Muglia to identify his top three threats (Bob, like any good executive, of course re-categorized them as “opportunities”). Winning the Bronze Medal for third place — Linux!

Concerning Microsoft competition with Linux, Bob says:

“We’ve gained share, almost two points of share against Linux last year, but we still see a great opportunity for us to serve our customers better than the open source Linux world. And here we’re focusing on doing it with workloads where we have relative weakness like Web and high-performance computing, and we see great opportunities to continue to grow in those spaces," he said. "So, we’re making the right investments there."

So only a month or so after contributing code to the Linux kernel, seemingly embracing Linux as a viable alternative to Windows and validating the open source software development model, Microsoft is now stating that taking share from Linux is a top competitive priority for 2010 and that Windows can serve customers “better than the open source Linux world.”

 The Big QuestionHow Credible are Microsoft Statements that Windows Hyper-V will Support Linux?

So given Microsoft’s statement of the obvious, let me ask, how believable is Microsoft when it claims that Linux workloads will be first class guests on the Hyper-V component of Windows Server 2008? How can a company, Microsoft, claim to fully support a guest operating system, Linux, that it would really like to see disappear?

 But Again, There’s More!  There are Also Many Technical Reasons Why One Wouldn’t Want to Run Linux on Hyper-V

Microsoft’s lack of interest in encouraging anyone to run applications on Linux is reflected in the limitations it puts on Linux guests run on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V

1) Hyper-V Supports only a small number of Linux guest operating systems

According to Microsoft documentation, Hyper-V R2 supports only these Linux guest operating systems:

  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Service Pack 1 (x86 or x64 Edition
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 with Service Pack 2 (x86 Edition or x64 Edition)
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 (x86 Edition or x64 Edition)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2 and 5.3 (x86 Edition or x64 Edition) (Emulated devices only)

The "Emulated devices only" limitation for RHEL guests is there because no guest additions (similar to VMware Tools) have been released by Microsoft for RHEL.  That means that RHEL guests will suffer from performance limitations because they lack paravirtualized guest network and storage drivers.  VMware vSphere provides high performance paravirtualized network (vmxnet3) and storage drivers (PVSCSI) with the VMware Tools available for all vSphere-supported guests.

2) Microsoft Hyper-V lacks Linux SMP support for those small number of Linux guest operating systems

Hyper-V R2 supports only single virtual processor configurations for any Linux guests.

3) Microsoft Hyper-V lacks core features to support those Linux guests.

Additional features not supported in MSFT Linux guests -the following features are not supported:

  • Integration Services: Operating System Shutdown, Time Synchronization, Data Exchange, Heartbeat, Volume Snapshot
  • Backup Networking: Jumbo Frames and TCP Offload
  • Storage: Hot Add/Remove (VHD’s and Pass-through Disks)

VMware solutions will always treat Linux as a tier one guest operating system

VMware vSphere can and does support the most demanding workloads in Linux guests with its high-performance paravirtualized in-guest drivers, up to 8-way virtual SMP, and 255GB maximum guest memory for all supported Linux guests.  With VMware vSphere, Linux is considered a full peer to Windows guests. We fully enable Linux deployments in your virtualized infrastructure.

VMware Safe Passage Program for Virtual Iron Customers – Two Weeks Left!

This is the Last Post on The VMware Safe Passage Program for Virtual Iron

Everyone – just a quick reminder that we are still planning to end the VMware Safe Passage Program for Virtual Iron on September 30, 2009.  That means stranded Virtual Iron customers have only two weeks left to take advantage of the substantial discounts offered on VMware solutions – a 40% discount on license list price!

All you need is proof of a Virtual Iron support contract and you are qualified.  We’ve even provided technical documentation to enable you to easily convert your Virtual Iron instance into a VMware infrastructure, so you’ll be enjoying the stability and performance of the award-winning, enterprise proven vSphere platform in no time. 

Here’s How to Order

Full program details are available at the Virtual Iron Safe Passage Promotion website. Contact safepassage@vmware.com or your VMware reseller for more information.

 But Wait There’s More?

mighty-puttyIf you call now, we might even throw in some Mighty Putty!  — Actually…you could give the Mighty Putty to your friends who are trying Hyper-V.  Maybe it could help them patch all the vulnerabilities in Hyper-V’s large Windows Server 2008 parent partition!!  …wait did I write that out loud?

Thanks again to all the new VMware customers who have taken advantage of this promotion.  Based on its success, we’ll be rolling out a number of these types of offers in the near future, so stay tuned – it’s just a shame that Billy Mays isn’t around anymore.  And yes, the Mighty Putty comment was an attempt at a joke…in reality, it would never be able to fully patch Hyper-V + Windows Server 2008 🙂

VMware Safe Passage for Virtual Iron: Where do my Virtual Iron Licenses Go?

 First of all, Thanks! and Welcome!

I want to first say thank-you and welcome to all the new VMware customers who have taken advantage of the VMware Safe Passage offer for stranded Virtual Iron customers.  The response has been very overwhelming!  I hope you are all having a good experience with your transition to VMware – technically it is a pretty straightforward process – we’ve even created this nifty KB article to help, located here:  Using VMware Converter to convert Virtual Iron Machines to VMware virtual machines

Use Virtual Iron as Long as You Need to Before Migrating to VMware vSphere

But the main motivation for this post was to answer a question that we’ve gotten from a number of organizations that are interested in pursuing the Safe Passage program – "What happens to my Virtual Iron licenses when I buy VMware?"  Well, the short answer is "Nothing".   I guess people were thinking that they’d have to immediately stop using Virtual Iron, but that’s not the case.  We’re not requiring that anyone complete a Certificate of Destruction for the Virtual Iron software or accept any other terms necessitating that you discontinue use of that product.  Every organization that purchases VMware solutions through the Safe Passage program can continue to use the Virtual Iron software for as long as required, enabling them to migrate to VMware vSphere on their own time table, when it best meets their requirements.  No pressure whatsoever, just an excellent discount on an excellent product – if I don’t say so myself.  Hope that helps.

But Our Time is Running Out

For those of you still considering the offer, get virtually moving! You’ve got until the end of September. Please feel free to email any other questions to the VMware Safe Passage team at safepassage@vmware.com .  You can also find more information on the promotion at the following link: http://www.vmware.com/landing_pages/safe-passage-promotion.html

Stay Classy San Diego,


UPDATE: Chris Wolf Blog Post – Oracle Now Fully Supports Non-Oracle x86 Hypervisors

UPDATE May 20, 2009 – Oracle again revised its support policy for virtualization of its software on a non-Oracle hypervisor.  Please refer to Chris Wolf’s follow up post on the topic for the complete details, but in sum Oracle slightly altered the text in its Metalink Note 794016.1 to remove mention of specific hypervisors that are “not explicitly certified, but supported” as a platform for Oracle products. 

The bottom line however is that VMware ESX is still a supported Oracle platform.  Oracle Metalink document 294212.1 still reigns supreme – it is still in effect, it has not been modified, and it still explicitly defines Oracle’s support policies for VMware virtualized environments.  It is on the basis of this document that VMware customers continue to deploy Oracle on VMware with confidence.


May 8, 2009

I had to post a short pointer to a blog post by esteemed Burton Group analyst, Chris Wolf ,because it might contain information that could make life a lot easier for our the thousands of VMware customers that run Oracle applications in a VMware virtual environment. 

Chris recently wrote on his on his personal blog, that with Oracle Metalink Note 794016.1, (which can be viewed with an Oracle Support account), “Oracle now offers best effort support for all of its E-Business Suite applications on any x86 hypervisor.”

…and of course VMware ESX is included in that group “any x86 hypervisor”

Chris then provides some quotes from the Metalink note, which I have pilfered recreated below:


This Metalink Note appears to say that 1) Hypervisors from VMware are officially  supported platforms for Oracle E-Business Applications and 2) Organizations running Oracle applications in those environments are entitled to best effort support from Oracle.

So VMware customers, this sounds like great news!  Oracle really DOES offer “best effort support” for VMware solutions!  Virtualize On!

Read the news straight from Oracle on its E-Business Suite Technology Blog.

VMware Cost per Application Calculator Updated for vSphere

Just a quick note to everyone to let you know that along with the launch of vSphere last week, we were also able to update the VMware Cost Per Application Calculator to fully reflect vSphere pricing and packaging.  You will all now be able to model a vSphere environment and estimate the additional cost savings that vSphere can enable over Hyper-V – or to put it another way, how much more expensive Microsoft’s “free” Hyper-V offering really is.

And those vSphere cost savings apply to large enterprises and smaller environments alike.

Smaller IT Environment Using vSphere Standard

Just going through a quick calculation myself, I see that if I wanted to virtualize 50 applications using the vSphere Standard edition, I could expect a 21% savings over Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V plus Systems Center.



And, I would actually break even with Microsoft offering – at the same consolidation ratio!



Large Enterprise Deploying vSphere Enterprise Plus

But even our top of the line vSphere Enterprise Plus solution is less expensive than Hyper-V. When creating 1,000 virtual machines on vSphere Enterprise Plus, an organization can expect to save 8% over Microsoft’s so-called cheaper offering – and the VMware offering is a production proven Cloud OS that can aggregate all aspects of your datacenter into a seamless pool of resources, whereas Hyper-V is just a hypervisor. vSphere: It’s the best solution, but you have to be willing to pay less for it!



And again the VMware customer would break even with Hyper-V at only an additional three VMs per ESX host – even with Enterprise Plus…



But Wait, There’s More!

The current version of the calculator assumes that vSphere will enable the same level of application consolidation as VI3. That is not really accurate. What we’re finding in our initial testing is that when 1) factoring only software improvements and 2) running on the same hardware on which we tested VI3, vSphere can enable 30% greater density than VI3. We’ll be validating this testing with a third party and will update the model soon. What this means of course is that vSphere can enable even greater savings over Hyper-V than what is represented here. (Especially when even Microsoft is seeing a whole 6:1 VM density on its Hyper-V servers)

And, when we account for the advances in hardware and utilize servers that incorporate the new Intel Nehalem microarchitecture, it just gets even better! Again, we’ll incorporate all that into the model soon.

Also Thanks for All Your Continued Feedback

We are working on some additions to the calculator – yes we’ll get a .pdf version of the report ready, so you can email the results to your boss. We might even add a Citrix comparison to the calculator as well – the results are very similar.

Hyper-V Server is Finally Here – But What Exactly Is It?


First, Thank-you for the Feedback

I wanted to quickly say thanks to everyone who provided feedback on our most recent post comparing the installation and configuration of VMware ESXi versus Windows Server Hyper-V with Server Core — Microsoft’s recommended deployment option.  You may not agree with all of the conclusions we presented, but we just couldn’t let Microsoft Exec Bob Muglia go unchallenged in claiming that Hyper-V is simply “The Windows You Know” and therefore an easier product to use than ESXi – it isn’t.  But thank-you, as many of you had very insightful (inciteful?) comments and we got some good, healthy debate going. For a pretty fair Microsoft response, please refer to James O’Neil’s blog .

But “Apples to Oranges”??  They’re Both Hypervisors!

But there was one piece of feedback, stated in comments by a number of Microsoft employees readers, that puzzled me. Some people cried foul because they saw our evaluation of Hyper-V with Server Core and ESXi as somehow comparing apples to oranges – I guess that was because Windows Server Hyper-V with Server Core requires a full instance of a general purpose operating system as its parent partition and ESXi does not. The comments/bloggers suggested that a more fair comparison would be ESXi vs. Hyper-V Server 2008, since Hyper-V Server is supposedly Microsoft’s ‘thin’ hypervisor that doesn’t require Windows Server OS in the parent partition – as reported by Microsoft here.  (Note: the MSFT blog linked there incorrectly states that ESXi has a Linux parent partition. That is untrue, ESXi has no parent partition.)

Well, regarding “Apples to Oranges” I am not going to dwell too much on that one, because in my opinion, ESXi and Hyper-V (all configurations) are both Hypervisors and are both aiming to serve the same purpose within a customer’s datacenter, so therefore the comparison is valid.  And, to support that notion, Microsoft compares all versions of Hyper-V to ESX/ESXi in every one of its virtualization presentations, so I think they’re in agreement with us that it is a fair comparison.  However, given that, if you want us to compare ESXi to Hyper-V Server, sure, now that the product is finally available, we can talk about that one too.

Hyper-V Server – Initial Thoughts

Ever since Microsoft first announced Hyper-V Server, almost a year ago, we’ve been speculating as to what it would look like.  It was billed as “standalone”, but until right before its release, Microsoft provided no technical details, so we were all left in the dark.   Existing Hyper-V versions were wholly dependent on Windows Server, so how “thin”, how “standalone” could it really be?

(Note: I am actually thinking that, at the time of Hyper-V server’s announcement, Microsoft itself didn’t know what the Hyper-V Server 2008 architecture would look like…)

Well, now that Hyper-V Server 2008 has finally been released – with very little fanfare considering its initial push from Microsoft – we were able to perform a preliminary evaluation.   There were two things we were initially interested in: 1) How the Hyper-V Server deployment/configuration processes compare to ESXi – gotta answer our critics, and 2) How Hyper-V Server architecture compares to ESXi – is it a more “apples to apples” comparison, or does Hyper-V Server contain Windows Server OS and is it therefore subject to all the patches, updates, vulnerabilities of the other configurations of Hyper-V?

We’ll save tackling the first issue — comparing the install/configure processes – for another blog post.  While our initial eval tells me that the install/config process hasn’t improved with Hyper-V Server, it will still take a little time to undertake a complete analysis.  But the second item – understanding what components of Windows Server the Hyper-V Server actually contains, how the architecture compares to ESXi, and what the benefits of Hyper-V Server actually are – we can start that discussion here.

Hyper-V Server is not “Windows-less” but is merely “Windows License-less”

Our initial finding is that Hyper-V Server is not “thin”; Hyper-V Server is still ultimately Windows.  Hyper-V Server appears for the most part to be just Windows Server Hyper-V with Server Core where all other Server Core roles (except Hyper-V) have been disabled. Hyper-V Server has practically the same footprint as Windows Server Hyper-V with Server Core and is subject to the same patches, updates, attacks. It also appears to have the same restricting, indirect Windows-based driver model. In fact, it seems that the only advantage of Hyper-V Server is that one doesn’t have to buy a Windows Server license in order to deploy it – that’s it.   Hyper-V Server is not “Windows-less”, but just “Windows License-less.”

Hyper-V Server also has some significant limitations that it seems to have inherited from the Standard Edition of Windows Server 2008. It can only support a maximum of 4 sockets per host, 32GB of physical memory per host, 31GB of virtual memory per VM, and requires a rip and replace upgrade to support features like Microsoft Clustering and Quick Migration. So it seems that Hyper-V Server is more of a starter kit, meant only for very basic use cases. In comparison, ESXi is a fully functional, production ready, enterprise offering. Actually, as 1) Both ESXi and Hyper-V Server are free and 2)Only free ESXi can easily be upgraded via license key to a production solution, why would anyone ever use Hyper-V Server? What’s the advantage?


Virtualization Needs

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008

VMware ESXi
Free Hypervisor

Small Disk Footprint

No – 2500MB

Yes – 32MB

Large Host Memory Support

No – 32GB

Yes – 256GB

Maximum Physical CPUs



Maximum VM Memory



Supported Guest OSs



Memory Over-Commitment






Clustered File System


Yes – VMFS

Simple Upgrade Path


Yes, to full VI3 versions

Hyper-V Server – An Overview of Our Installation Experience

For proof points supporting our above conclusions, following is a blow-by blow of Michael Hong’s experience installing Hyper-V Server:

I got my 936MB iso of Hyper-V Server downloaded. I burned it onto a CD and popped it into my brand new HP DL 360 and fired it up. After doing some recommended BIOS configurations and rebooting, I’m watching the boot sequence and getting a feeling of déjà vu. Did I just put in the wrong DVD? Because I swear this looks exactly like a full Windows Server 2008 or even a Server Core installation.


Wait…did that just say, “Installing Windows?” I thought this was Hyper-V Server that wasn’t supposed to be Windows! At this point I’m thinking, “Hey, maybe that’s not too bad. I can get a free copy of Windows without having to deal with any of their licensing nightmares.” Well let’s wait and see before I get too excited…

Hyper-V Server Disk Footprint is Similar to Hyper-V Server Core!

Okay, so after THREE more reboots I’m finally able to log in and start looking around. The first thing I check is Hyper-V Server’s disk footprint. After all, Microsoft states that one of its only three key benefits is a “small footprint.” So how “small” is it really? After plotting the numbers into my trusty byte convertor, Hyper-V Server is coming in around 2.5GB! (pagefile not included in size) WOW, that’s only a hundred megabytes less than a full-blown Windows Server Core installation! Perhaps it really just is a Windows Server Core Standard edition with one role enabled. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?


Also notice the number of files and directories. My basic install of Windows Server Core with Hyper-V enabled has:


In this install of Hyper-V Server there is actually more files and directories:


Next, let’s take a look at patching. Option number 5 in the dos-like Hyper-V Configuration menu shows an option for enabling Windows Update. Once set to automatic, it scanned for applicable patches. I didn’t expect to see any new patches since Hyper-V Server was just released yesterday. Any new patches would probably arrive next patch Tuesday right? And since this is supposed to be a light, secure hypervisor, it probably wouldn’t need as many patches as a full blown OS right? The results may surprise you:


13 applicable patches, including 2 for Internet Explorer 7? This is looking more and more like the “Windows I Know.” What in Hyper-V Server actually relies on IE7? Hyper-V Server looks like it’s a full blown Windows OS. If that’s the case, I’m sure hackers will have a field day copying over few additional files and turning it into a full working copy of Windows Server Core.

Some other things to keep in mind:

· Server Core and Hyper-V Server have the same directory structures

· Server Core and Hyper-V Server have the same command line toolset

· Server Core Standard and Hyper-V both have the same 32GB of physical memory limit and up to 4 processors

· Server Core and Hyper-V Server have the same parent partition driver model

Is Hyper-V Server really Windows Server Core Standard with only the Hyper-V role enabled? If so, will it be vulnerable to the same threats as Windows? Those 13 patches are just the starting point. What about viruses? Windows Server Core is exposed to viruses and as a result, there are anti-virus products out there today that are certified on Server Core. What about the size of Hyper-V Server’s footprint? Being only 100MB smaller than Server Core still shows it still has a very large attack surface as compared to VMware ESXi.

In Sum

We feel that, in contrast to how it is being marketed, Hyper-V Server 2008 is not “standalone”, “thin”, or  Operating System agnostic in the same manner as ESXi. Hyper-V Server is still very dependent on and subject to the limitations of Windows and therefore should not be considered an equal to ESXi.   Also, given Hyper-V Server’s restrictions and lack of upgrade path, and given that ESXI is also free and has a simple upgrade path, I question what the viable use cases for Hyper-V Server really are. Give it a try yourself and let us know what you think.  Better yet, download our free VMware ESXi and let us know how you feel it compares to Hyper-V Server.

Stay tuned for our comparison of the deployment and configuration processes for ESXi and Hyper-V Server.

Why Choose VMware: The Website

The Link:   http://www.vmware.com/technology/whyvmware/

What’s Real and What’s Noise?

I think we’d all agree that there is currently a whole lot of noise in the virtualization space.  With the recent explosion of virtualization entrants, each one claiming to offer a complete, proven, production ready enterprise virtualization solution that is “good enough/better/cheaper/easier/faster/more secure/more scalable/tastes great/less filling than VMware, it is downright deafening. In one corner we’ve got Microsoft execs claiming that their first generation hypervisor is “1/3 the cost of VMware(Note: Our response here), and even the long dormant Red Hat recently erupted to tell everyone that with Qumranet they can now run more VMs per host than VMware VI3 (Note: I didn’t see any data to support that claim, but of course someone reported on it).  With everyone shouting over everyone else, each claiming to be better than or equal to VMware , I am going deaf over here!

And I am sure it is getting very difficult for those evaluating a virtualization solution to tell the facts from the marketing.  Given all the noise, how can anyone determine who actually has a solution that can be deployed today and who is merely marketing a vision (dream?) that may or may not be realized anytime soon?  How can anyone cut through the clatter and make a confident, sound decision on a virtualization platform to support both current and future virtualization requirements?  

Here’s Our Story – One Complete Picture of Our Competitive Differentiation

To make your decision easier, we wanted to make sure that at the very least, you had a complete understanding of our side of the story. We wanted you to have a single location from which to obtain the entire picture, all the facts, on VMware’s product differentiation,  so we created the “Why Choose VMware” website.  Our goal was to clearly and succinctly articulate why we feel that that 1) VMware is the only vendor that actually does have the complete, robust, production proven virtualization solution that can meet your current virtualization requirements today and can support you in the future as your IT needs evolve and 2) All other offerings fall short of meeting even basic virtualization requirements.  How’s that for succinct? 🙂

Just for background on the site’s material, we met with customers, partners, and analysts to determine what they felt was important when considering a virtualization solution; on this site, we make our case for how we match up to those requirements.   I won’t repeat the whole argument here, but in summary, we articulate how VMware’s solutions meet the following conditions:

  1. Is built on a robust, proven foundation
  2. Delivers a platform for shared IT services
  3. Provides a complete solution for virtualization management
  4. Supports your entire IT infrastructure
  5. Is proven across tens of thousands of customer deployments.

And yes we also address cost – and show why VMware solutions offer the lowest cost per application of any virtualization solution – even when compared to those that claim to be free.

I do apologize however…

While we did try, the next releases of VMware products will NOT be “moist and chewy like cake”. I wouldn’t recommend trying to “eat them while you work”.  I extend our sincerest apologies.  Oh well, at least we have live migration.

Microsoft’s Virtualization ROI/TCO Calculator: Our Take

We Reviewed Microsoft’s ROI/TCO Model

Some of you may have seen Microsoft’s recently released virtualization ROI/TCO calculator. Briefly, the model purports to offer an accurate cost/benefit comparison between Microsoft’s Hyper-V offering and a “Competitive Server Virtualization Solution” – gee I wonder who the competitive solution is…?  Microsoft is beginning to advertise the calculator broadly in its partner newsletter and other email blasts – and we’ve even had customers bring it to our attention. Mainly, the VMware customers that have alerted us to the Microsoft ROI/TCO calculator were confused by many of the model’s assumptions and by the generated results – they wanted our opinion. So, we took a look.

Unfortunately We Had to Give It A Failing Grade

Of course the results were all hypothetical, because Hyper-V is not yet available, but what we found when running a realistic scenario through the model and then from reading the report’s fine print, is that like most Microsoft version 1.0 products, the initial release of this calculator has numerous errors, contains critical design mistakes, and completely misses its mark. Any results generated from this model are so unrealistic as to be completely worthless for accurately comparing costs and benefits of alternate virtualization solutions. (Maybe we all need to wait for the SP1?)

In Sum:   ROI/TCO Analysis = Good Idea ; Inaccurate Model = Bad Idea

But of course that’s what one would expect VMware to say right? Out comes a model that could show that a competitor’s product is less expensive and right away VMware is going to question its accuracy. Well I’ll soon list out the numerous issues we found with the Microsoft model – and those issues will articulate clearly why Microsoft’s model is inaccurate and why our questioning of the model is justified, but first just let me state that we at VMware fully support an accurate and realistic ROI/TCO analysis of our solutions. In fact, VMware launched an ROI/TCO calculator way back in April of 2007. Since then, our customers have generated over 30,000 reports that quantify the enormous benefits they are receiving from VMware installations. (Feel free to try it for yourself here.) However, we also believe, and I am sure you’d agree, that any ROI/TCO model must be based on 1) accurate pricing/licensing information, 2) fair product comparisons, and 3) defendable assumptions for both associated costs and realized benefits. Our analysis of the Microsoft supported model showed that it had none of those traits.

Play Along at Home

Following are some of the many mistakes and gross assumptions we found in the Microsoft model. So that you can follow along at home – please download a copy of the report we generated. I encourage you to evaluate the Microsoft calculator yourself – let us know what else you find! Also, as you read further, and as you consider all the errors in the model, keep in mind the following question:

Why Did MSFT Release Such a Misleading ROI/TCO Model?

A) Microsoft did a sloppy and hasty job with the calculator

B) Microsoft is deliberately fudging the facts

C) Both A and B

Now I don’t want to imply that Microsoft is trying to deliberately mislead anyone, but it does make me question Microsoft’s overall capacity for rigorous product testing. I hope that the same team that QA’d the Microsoft TCO model is not the same group that is currently testing the V1.0 release of Hyper-V!

Final Thought

Perhaps we at VMware could work with Microsoft and a third party to develop a standardized model for an ROI/TCO analysis of a virtualization solution? Thoughts?

Production & Dev/Test Server Virtualization – Competitive Cost Comparison
(Appendix B – page 18)

Why is a discounted Microsoft license cost being compared to VMware List Pricing??
The tool assumes the following pricing for Windows Server 2008 Editions: $719 for Standard, $2334 for Enterprise, and $2381 for Datacenter. That doesn’t match up to the list pricing that Microsoft publishes on its website, so the prices must be some sort of volume/discounted pricing. So the tool uses discounted pricing for Microsoft and list pricing for VMware ($5750 for VI3 Enterprise)? Not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. One might argue that Microsoft does not have access to VMware volume pricing. But then again, the average reader doesn’t have access to Microsoft’s volume pricing either.

Where are the Microsoft System Center Server License Costs?
Under the “Virtualization Management Software” row, the VMware column includes the server license cost for VirtualCenter $5000. That’s fine, but to the best of our knowledge, an organization using the MSFT solution would also need server licenses, for 1) Microsoft System Center Operations Manager, 2) System Center Configuration Manager, and 3) System Center Data Protection Manager. Each component is $573 (list price) according to Microsoft’s own website. That $573 doesn’t include the SQL Server license – that’s extra. Currently, no additional server license cost is required for System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007 – TBD whether that will remain true for Virtual Machine Manager 2008. System Center Operations Manager is required to do any performance tracking, Configuration Manager to do updates and patches, and Data Protection Manager to do backups. Most of that functionality is an integrated part of VMware VirtualCenter.

Since When Did All VMware Customers Decide to Run System Center?
The tool assumes that customers will use Microsoft System Center to manage their VMware Infrastructure deployment. Again, this little detail is buried deep in the appendices (Appendix B – “System Center Enterprise” row). Microsoft assumes that everyone who still chooses to run VMware will naturally want to manage it using Microsoft System Center. This seems like a pretty presumptuous assumption. Most companies we talk to have already invested in an enterprise management framework and want VMware to integrate with what they’ve already got. Unless they are already running Microsoft System Center, they really don’t want to rip out their existing investment and put in System Center. VMware VirtualCenter APIs are readily available through the VirtualCenter SDK making it possible for VMware partners like IBM, HP, CA, BMC, Symantec, Quest, and NetIQ (to name a few) to integrate seamless with VMware VirtualCenter. Customers can keep using what they’ve already invested in.

The Model Incorrectly Calculates Microsoft Licensing Costs
In the scenario we ran, Microsoft’s tool assumed 71 Windows Server Standard Edition licenses for 414 virtual machines running on 71 hosts. Since each Standard Edition license grants rights to run 1 VM, the model’s results leave 343 VMs in our hypothetical datacenter running out of compliance. Microsoft may claim that the TCO/ROI calculator is not a licensing calculator, but how can it calculate accurate TCO estimates using inaccurate licensing assumptions? We did find a one-line disclaimer buried in the 66-page document: “Warning – Check pricing advice and rules as the automated recommendations here may not reflect all licensing rules.” Come on, guys – licensing is such a basic component for accurate TCO estimates. The disclaimer feels pretty weak.

Microsoft Cost Savings are HUGE… if You Believe the Assumptions
We found many overly aggressive assumptions in the Microsoft calculator, which resulted in overly aggressive cost savings for the Microsoft’s solution. For instance, on page 26 “Production Server Operations and Administration Efficiency Savings”, Microsoft’s default assumption is an 83% reduction in person-hours-per-year after virtualizing with Microsoft’s solution. That translates into a VM-to-admin ratio of 250:1 after virtualization. While VMware agrees that virtualization absolutely increases administrative efficiency, 250:1 is overly aggressive.

Why are 4-way Servers the Model’s Default Assumption? Oh yeah… It Increases VMware’s Perceived Cost.
The tool assumes 4-way servers as the default configuration. Granted, 4-way server volume is growing, but IDC’s Quarterly Server Tracker published on February 26, 2008, shows only 4.27% of all servers shipped in 2007 were 4-ways, making them nowhere close to being the majority of servers virtualized today. This assumption does double the number of VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) Enterprise Edition licenses required since VI3 is licensed in 2-socket increments, thereby making VMware’s total deployment cost appear much higher. Most readers won’t see this point buried deep in the appendices; perhaps that was the goal? Oh, with quad-cores today and hexa/octo-cores in the near future, 2-way servers are still projected to be the majority volume virtualized server platform in 2008 and 2009.

VM Density Per Host Matters for TCO – a Fact that Microsoft Ignores
Not all virtualization platforms are created equal – some can run more virtual machines per host than others, thereby resulting in lower total cost of ownership, due to reduced hardware and related costs. In one of our recent blogs, we highlighted the lack of memory sharing technologies in Microsoft Hyper-V. This deficiency results in fewer virtual machines per host (due to inefficient memory usage), thereby increasing the number of required physical servers, thereby increasing cost. Microsoft’s tool assumes that Hyper-V will run as many VMs as VMware VI3 and deliver the same performance – we can’t wait until Hyper-V ships and prove this wrong.

VMware VI3 Enterprise Functionality is Far Greater than Hyper-V
Microsoft compares Hyper-V to VMware VI3 Enterprise Edition even though Hyper-V lacks key enabling capabilities that are prerequisites for a truly dynamic datacenter. Capabilities missing from Hyper-V include live VM migration (VMware VMotion and Storage VMotion), automated/dynamic load balancing (VMware DRS), dynamic power management (VMware DPM), integrated offline VM patching (VMware Update Manager), a next-generation ultra-thin hypervisor architecture (VMware ESXi), a clustered file system (VMware VMFS), and the ability to make VMs highly available without the storage management headache of assigning 1 LUN for each VM (VMware HA). For the basic server consolidation scenarios that Microsoft Hyper-V enables, VMware offers VI3 Foundation and VMware ESXi at very competitive price points – check out VMware’s complete server virtualization product offerings here.

Desktop and Application Virtualization – Competitive Cost Comparison

(Appendix B – page 19)

Microsoft Tool Assumes Wrong Costs for VMware VDI
To virtualize 6000 clients, Microsoft has incorrectly assumed 240 VI3 Enterprise licenses ($1,380,000) plus “Virtualization Management Software and Host Server” cost ($7000) plus 6000 connection broker client licenses ($300,000). The actual license cost of VMware VDI is 6000 x $150 = $900,000 plus virtualization management costs of $1250. This VMware VDI pricing has been in effect since Feb 2008 so the Microsoft calculator does not use up-to-date, publicly available information.

Readers Must Figure Out that Microsoft Compares Two Completely Different Technologies
By looking at the summary table on page 6, most readers would reasonably assume that the comparison is between two comparable products addressing the same business need. That’s not the case. Microsoft is comparing the cost of Terminal Services + MDOP (including Microsoft Application Virtualization) to the cost of a VMware VDI solution. VMware VDI offers full desktop VM virtualization, best in class application compatibility and true user isolation. Comparing terminal services + application virtualization to VDI is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Microsoft Assumes Low Consolidation Ratios for VMware VDI
The consolidation ratios assumed by Microsoft for VDI are significantly lower than the consolidation ratios observed by VMware customers. On a 2-socket dual core server, VMware customers typically observe average consolidation ratios of 32-36 VMs depending upon the workloads. Microsoft only assumes 25 VMs per host, which skews VMware’s cost by another 20-30%. Of course, Microsoft assumes a higher consolidation ratio (30:1) for its own solution.

Questionable Assumptions for How Microsoft’s Desktop Solution Lowers Cost
We found some questionable assumptions on how Microsoft got some of the cost-savings estimates. For instance on page 39 “Desktop Virtualization Client Software License Cost Avoidance“, Microsoft claims that companies can reduce the number of “unused / not properly allocated licenses” by 70% using their desktop solution. Apparently, overbuying of Microsoft software licenses is a common issue. Another example is on page 37 “Desktop Virtualization Branch Office Server Cost Avoidance.” Microsoft claims that some branch office server infrastructure may be consolidated / retired and replaced with centralized virtualized servers for branch office applications. While this is one viable way to reduce IT capital cost, what about the additional IT capital costs to upgrade to low latency, highly available network connectivity to the branch offices? This network cost needs to be factored in.