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System Center 2012 – Checkbox Compliant Heterogeneous Management

If you spend any amount of time researching Microsoft System Center 2012, whether through their websites, blogs, datasheets, or any other marketing materials, you may be under the impression that Microsoft has finally delivered on their promise of a “single pane of glass” to manage all of your investments in virtual infrastructure, especially when it comes to VMware vSphere. Having worked hands-on with both VMware vSphere and System Center 2012, my interest was piqued when a 57-page whitepaper was published by Microsoft devoted to the very subject. But the reality is that for a document fluffed up by nearly 50 pages of screen-shots and mouse click instructions, the most relevant information for the reader is this:

“In VMM, support for ESX/ESXi is optimized for virtual machine and service management.”

What’s Your Definition of Management?

Any vSphere Administrator who spends a moment to evaluate System Center 2012 and VMM (short for Virtual Machine Manager) for its multi-hypervisor management capabilities will soon learn that optimized translates to a lack of even the most basic support for their vSphere environment. Need to add a new host to your cluster? Switch over to your vSphere Client. Need to connect a host to the new LUN you just provisioned? Again, time to load up the vSphere Client.  Install or upgrade VMware Tools? Add a new Virtual Machine Port Group? Browse a datastore? These examples are by no means exhaustive but you probably get the idea. When it comes to managing VMware vSphere, System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager really is just a virtual machine manager.

The Search for the “Single Pane of Glass”

Choosing the right virtual infrastructure for any workload, including business critical, test and development, or remote office, includes not only evaluating the core platform for features and performance, it also requires evaluating the management platform for capabilities to simplify management and boost efficiency. VMware vSphere Administrators have long been able to perform all manner of virtual infrastructure management tasks like building clusters, configuring virtual networking, adding storage, or patching hosts all from the same management platform – VMware vCenter Server. Only VMware vCenter Server provides the ability to manage Resource Pools, deploy bare-metal ESXi hosts, enforce host profile compliance, and configure vSphere HA and DRS. Unable to provide vSphere Administrators with any of these capabilities, System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager may end up as yet another unused pane of glass sitting alongside Virtual Machine Manager 2008.

System Center 2012 – Multi-Hypervisor Management Done “Slight”

For what it’s worth, System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager does offer support for some common VMware vSphere virtual machine related management tasks. Microsoft even goes so far as to admit that System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager is “optimized for virtual machine and service management.” Unfortunately, this moment of System Center Truth is drowned out by more broad claims of management that is comprehensive, provides day-to-day operational support, and is delivered through a “single pane of glass.” Even with the addition of all the supporting management servers, databases, and consoles required to duplicate the scenarios demonstrated in the whitepaper, vSphere Administrators would still have to count on VMware vCenter Server to handle even the simplest of VMware vSphere management tasks. For this reason, I find Microsoft’s claim of a comprehensive, single pane of glass management experience for VMware vSphere to be little more than a marketing exercise, designed ultimately for checkbox compliance.

Sorry Microsoft; Not Only Does vSphere Cost Less to Buy, It Also Costs Less to Operate.

Microsoft’s wildly exaggerated claims of providing a less expensive virtualization platform than VMware vSphere have been hard to miss if you’ve spent any time on the web lately. We’ve previously pointed out the flaws in their math and our public Cost Per Application Calculator clearly shows how deploying a virtual infrastructure built with vSphere will cost about the same as one built using Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center (or even much less when vSphere’s proven VM density advantage over Hyper-V is factored in.) Now we’re pleased to share recent independent test results that show how vSphere also delivers dramatically lower operational costs compared to Microsoft.

The acquisition capital expense (CapEx) advantage for vSphere shown by our Cost Per Application Calculator is just part of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) that diligent customers will want to evaluate when choosing a virtualization and cloud platform. The other key TCO element to consider is Operational Expenses (OpEx) representing the ongoing costs of administering your virtual infrastructure. To help customers assess the OpEx differences between vSphere and Hyper-V, we enlisted Principled Technologies to run both platforms in their labs and measure the system administrator labor time needed for typical recurring tasks.

Five Typical Datacenter Tasks Tested

Principled Technologies selected five common tasks that any administrator of a virtualized datacenter must regularly perform and they measured the administrator labor time taken to complete each one using both the VMware and Microsoft platforms. The tasks tested were:

  1. Shifting virtual machines off a host to accommodate physical maintenance
  2. Adding storage volumes and redistributing virtual disk files across the new storage
  3. Isolating storage-intensive “noisy neighbor” virtual machines
  4. Provisioning new hosts
  5. Performing a non-disruptive disaster recovery failover test

Care was taken to conduct the scenario tasks as realistically as possible using the full capabilities of the latest released versions of the VMware and Microsoft products available at the time of the testing. vCenter Site Recovery Manager was included in the VMware configuration (and the full list SRM license costs were included in the VMware total cost figures.) vSphere 5 delivered a convincing across-the-board win over Microsoft for each task tested: tasks took 78% to 97% less time to complete using vSphere. The time savings provided by the VMware platform arise from the more advanced capabilities built into vSphere and the more efficient and optimized implementation of those features we’ve perfected over our years of focusing purely on delivering the best virtual infrastructure and cloud platform.


It’s important to note that the OpEx dollar savings shown in the chart above derive from only five representative sysadmin tasks. There are many other regular activities performed by administrators of virtualized datacenters, most of which will show similar efficiency advantages for vSphere over less mature and capable alternatives, so customers should expect even greater total OpEx savings from using vSphere.

Scenarios Delivering Big OpEx Wins for vSphere

Contributors to the biggest operational advantages for vSphere were:

  • Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler – When more storage is needed, the vSphere administrator can add volumes and let Storage DRS redistribute virtual disk files to the new volumes automatically with no VM downtime. The Hyper-V administrator must manually redistribute VM storage and make arrangements for VM downtime during the operation.
  • Concurrent vMotion – The vSphere administrator can complete physical host maintenance much sooner because vMotion maintenance mode evacuations of VMs can proceed concurrently and at a faster rate (see comparative live migration testing results here.) Hyper-V hosts can only handle one live migration at a time, so administrators are tied up with much longer maintenance windows.
  • Storage I/O Control – vSphere makes it easy to cap the storage IOPS consumed by each VM to prevent resource hogging by “noisy neighbors.” Hyper-V has no such feature, so administrators can only respond by dedicating storage volumes for misbehaving VMs – a tedious task requiring VM downtime.
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager – SRM fully automates replication of mission-critical VMs to a remote site and failover in case of disaster. Real disasters may be rare, but full-scale DR tests should be regular events. That’s where the automated and non-disruptive DR failover test features in SRM deliver big operational savings. Setting up DR failovers with Hyper-V requires maintenance-intensive scripting to orchestrate VM replications and restarts and to modify VMs for network isolation.

After making their labor time measurements, Principled Technologies then estimated how many times each task would be repeated over the course of a two-year period in a datacenter operating 1,000 virtual machines. Multiplying the cumulative time taken performing each task by the U.S. national average system administrator compensation rate gave a dollar figure for the OpEx savings. As shown below, the final result was an impressive 91% reduction in operational expenses when using vSphere compared to Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center.


Operational Expenses Dominate Total Costs

The impact of the OpEx savings delivered by vSphere are even more significant when you consider that IT operational expenses are typically much larger than capital expenses. In fact, Gartner survey data shows cross-industry IT OpEx spending is almost three times CapEx spending – even more reason to choose a virtualization platform that will save you money with better operational efficiency long after the initial purchase.

The OpEx savings delivered by vSphere were enough to tip the two-year TCO advantage in favor of VMware in the 1,000-VM datacenter that was the baseline for Principled Technologies’ tests. When you can have the clearly superior features provided by vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus Edition together with vCenter Site Recovery Manager at a lower total cost than Microsoft’s best alternative, it’s easy to make the decision to go with VMware.

If you’re running your datacenter on vSphere now, an OpEx win by vSphere probably isn’t surprising. vSphere users benefit from over a decade of optimizations we’ve built into our platform that derive from experience in thousands of production datacenters. What did surprise us was just how large an operational advantage vSphere has over the Microsoft platform. The results are a clear example of why you need to look at more than just a feature checklist and initial price tag when choosing the virtualization platform for your most critical workloads.

Take a look for yourself at the full test report by Principled Technologies here (registration required.)

Far out, man! Microsoft’s wasted 1970s campaign to diss VMware. Can you dig it?!

It was hard to miss. As I was getting my daily dose of tech news yesterday, I started seeing the Microsoft “Tad” ads. I saw it first on NetworkWorld, then on InformationWeek. I later heard that it was also on Tech Republic, ComputerWorld, ZDNet, a big ad in the Wall Street Journal, and who knows where else Microsoft spent a bunch of its hard-earned money, just to malign VMware. The ads lead back to a custom microsite that Microsoft built… more money spent on VMware. (Hmmm… I’m seeing a trend/complex here as Microsoft’s own virtualization website mentions VMware as many times as it mentions Microsoft!)

These tactics do garner attention. I’ve seen the tweets and retweets from Microsofties and their fans; all quite happy about this new not-so-veiled volley of venom thrown at VM-limited… er, VMware.

But what are others, outside the influence of the Redmond compound, saying? I think @jbrodkin at Ars Technica’s tweet sums it up pretty well “Hey @mIcrosoft, congrats on the lamest ad campaign ever”. Or the write-up at Business Insider, saying “Still, we're a little dumbfounded that adults not only thought this was a good idea, but spent time and energy on it.”



VMware – Business Value and Reliability that Customers Can Count On

This latest Microsoft campaign once again highlights the difference in focus between VMware and Microsoft. Given a million dollars, both companies would spend it very differently. Microsoft would spend (actually, has already spent) its million dollars on advertising, but not advertising to tell prospective customers about why its product is better, but on parody videos of VMware.

VMware, on the other hand, would spend our resources first on innovation, and then, on marketing to communicate how our products deliver greater business value. We have a track record of delivering groundbreaking innovations with every release of our products and we intend to continue our legacy. It’s what our customers have come to expect from VMware: business value through innovation, reliability that customers can count on.

What’s that business value from VMware look like? Revlon CIO David Giambruno is getting “six 9’s of uptime” with “savings and cost avoidance of $70.4 million” by working with VMware. He’s virtualized Exchange, SQL, and Oracle, and built out a private cloud that’s a competitive weapon for Revlon. So we’ll stay focused on innovating to deliver business value to customers like Revlon, and Southwest Airlines, and NYSE, and leave it to Microsoft to spend their time and money making parody videos and debates between Microsoft employees and fictitious characters. 


Net-net: CIOs and IT Decision Makers are Picking VMware

An audience poll from the last Gartner Datacenter Conference revealed that 71% of respondents expect VMware to be central to their private cloud strategy in 2015, while only 23% mentioned Microsoft – that’s more than a 3-to-1 ratio of IT decision makers picking VMware. It is just one example of how CIOs and IT decisions makers see VMware as the clear leader for virtualization and cloud computing.

So while the Tad videos may be good for some cheap laughs and reminiscing about the 70s – although there is great irony in Microsoft calling anyone else dated/behind the times/old school, as it’s hard to think of another company that’s been playing catch up on every technology trend of the 21st century (mobile, tablets, cloud, search) – what companies really need is help in maximizing the business value from virtualization and cloud computing. That’s where VMware comes in.

Peace out.


VMware’s track record of industry-leading innovations


7 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Cloud Math Needs Remediation

Microsoft has published a white paper claiming Microsoft’s private cloud solution costs much less than VMware’s. It is interesting to see that 75% of the white paper is actually about VMware!

The white paper uses distorted cost comparisons such as comparing Microsoft’s unreleased products with VMware’s released products, comparing Microsoft discounted prices with VMware’s list price, comparing dissimilar features and comparing software only costs and ignoring the total cost. When fairly calculated, the total cost of using VMware’s solution is actually 15% less than that of Microsoft’s.

Why Microsoft Private Cloud Cost Claims in the Paper are Invalid

(1) The paper compares Microsoft’s volume discounted prices with VMware’s full list prices. The paper uses prices that are available only with their “Enrollment for Core Infrastructure” (ECI) bundle. The bundle requires a minimum initial purchase of 50 processor licenses with 3 years of Software Assurance (SA). VMware vSphere has no such minimum purchase requirements. A fair comparison should compare the product list prices from both vendors or volume discounting from both vendors.

(2) The paper compares dissimilar functionality – Microsoft’s ECI bundle is not equivalent to the VMware Cloud Infrastructure Suite. The ECI bundle either does not have a fully equivalent solution or greatly lags behind in functionality for the following VMware products making the comparison an apples-to-oranges one.

VMware-exclusive features

VMware advantages over Microsoft ECI

Microsoft’s Solution


Adaptive, virtualization-aware security for virtual datacenters and cloud environments at all levels – host, network, application, data and endpoint.

Endpoint Protection is only an antivirus solution and not virtualization aware. It lacks a built-in network loadbalancer or firewall, requires in-guest agents and is prone to AV storms.

Site Recovery Manager

Out-of-the-box, automated datacenter-level disaster recovery solution that provides replication to a secondary site, management of recovery and migration plans and non-disruptive testing.

No integrated SAN/host based replication, tedious orchestration for site failover and failback and no full-scale failover testing with network isolation making disaster recovery limited and highly manual.

vCenter Operations

Purpose-built cloud management solutions that provides intelligent monitoring, self-learning analytics, proactive management and comprehensive visibility across the entire infrastructure.

Limited operations management for the cloud that offers basic analytics, uses static, reactive thresholds with limited visualization to aid monitoring and analytics.

vCloud Director

Accelerates provisioning on shared infrastructure. Allows migration of workloads between different clouds and integration of existing management systems using extensions, APIs, and cross-cloud standards.

Cannot fully isolate tenants and extensibility to various cloud providers is limited to the Azure platform.


(3) The paper uses VMware’s highest product editions for comparison when Microsoft’s products are closer in functionality to VMware’s lowest editions. Hyper-V R2 is actually is closer to vSphere Standard edition in functionality.

(4) The paper ignores total costs and the impact of VM density on total costs. The paper compares the cost of software licenses only and ignores the total cost of ownership. It also does not account for VM density. vSphere’s proven 20% VM density advantage over Hyper-V (proven in tests conducted by 3rd parties) lowers the total cost for a VMware cloud by reducing the spending on servers, network, storage, power and cooling and guest operating systems.

The paper also ignores the additional costs a customer has to incur with 3rd party solutions given the lack of various critical features in Hyper-V.

When fairly calculated, Microsoft’s costs are comparable to VMware’s. When the total cost using Microsoft undiscounted Windows Server 2008 and System Center 2012 list prices are compared to the total cost of using VMware vSphere Standard and vCenter, VMware is actually 15% cheaper. Following is a total cost and and cost per VM example using the same configuration cited in the Microsoft paper. It compares the cost of deploying 14 VMs/host for Microsoft and 17 VM/host for VMware for a 500 VM deployment using dual socket, 6-core servers.

Cost per Virtual Machine



VMware Savings

VMware Savings (%)

Infrastructure Cost

















Power and cooling (1 Year)





DataCenter Space (1 Year)





Total Infrastructure cost





Virtualization SW Cost



vSphere 5 (Standard) + SnS










Windows Licenses Cost





Win 2008 w/Hyper-V + SA





Virtualization Mgmt. SW Cost





vCenter Total (w/SNS)





vCenter and SnS





Windows for vCenter and SQL





SQL 2005 for vCenter





System Center and SA










Total Management Software Cost





Total Software Costs





MS Support (Assumption 20hrs/year @ $214/hr)




Total Costs





Total Costs per Application





% difference in VM density



 Based on average support usage, the computation adds 20 hours of support per year for Microsoft as Microsoft SA does not include support. Also the storage and networking costs are higher with the Microsoft solution as it requires more servers.

(5) The paper incorrectly claims that Microsoft costs will not increase as the number of VM increases. The paper claims that customers will have to pay more with VMware as the number of VMs grows, however with Microsoft the costs remains flat. This claim is not based on realistic growth models. We know from various performance testing reports that Hyper-V R2 supports fewer VMs per processor than vSphere 5, hence, as the number of VMs increases, a Microsoft solution will require more servers along with an increase in other associated costs.

(6) Customers will see 10-20% increase in Microsoft management costs with higher System Center 2012 pricing. Microsoft’s white paper doesn’t mention that customers will now be paying more for System Center. Based on the pricing and packaging changes announced by Microsoft for System Center 2012, there is a 37.5% increase in license price per processor for the Datacenter edition.


System Center (Current) – Datacenter Edition

System Center 2012 -Datacenter edition

Published list price including 2 years of SA


$3,607 covering up to 2 processors

License price per proc without SA



 Even after subtracting the cost of Management Server and SQL Server licenses, customers will experience a 10-20% price increase. In fact, our analysis shows that the impact increases as the number of VMs in the environment grows.

 Also, customers will be forced to buy the full System Center 2012 suite at a higher price as the individual components included in the new System Center 2012 cannot be purchased separately.

(7) Microsoft support costs are not included when comparing to VMware’s Support and Subscription Services (SNS). Microsoft’s SA is billed at 25% of license price and does not include “MS Support”. Customers either purchase “Support” separately from Microsoft [at $200+ per hour] or use 3rd party services. VMware’s SNS entitles a customer to not only all software releases and updates but also VMware’s Technical Support. The paper uses highest end support cost for VMware and completely ignores support cost for Microsoft!

Finally, the paper overlooks how VMware’s cloud infrastructure products are designed and built for virtual and cloud infrastructures and are far more efficient, reliable and robust compared to Microsoft’s. Check out the blog that outlines the key advantages VMware’s cloud Infrastructure Suite has over Microsoft’s products.

The Microsoft white paper is nothing but an attempt to artificially inflate VMware’s prices and distract customers from the shortcomings of their own products.


Oracle VM – 4x More Marketing, 4x Fewer Substantiated Facts

The good folks in Oracle’s marketing department deserve a raise for their efforts around promoting the latest release of the company’s virtualization solution, Oracle VM (OVM) 3. They certainly are aiming high, claiming OVM 3 is four times more scalable than VMware, four times cheaper to deploy than VMware, and is architected for efficiency while VMware is prone to inefficiencies. Not bad for a product that did not even exist until 2009 and is only on its second release (why the second release is called OVM 3, I don’t know). Unfortunately for Oracle Marketing, there’s a problem, namely – the FACTS. The facts show that VMware vSphere 5 delivers much higher scalability, greater value and unmatched performance compared to OVM.

Read the rest of the entry and follow the discussion over at the Virtualizing Business Critical Applications blog

Setting SolarWinds straight on how SMBs prefer VMware over Microsoft

SolarWinds recently published a blog claiming VMware ceded the SMB market to Microsoft Hyper-V. Unfortunately the SolarWinds blog is not accepting comments, so we are posting our response here. The blog misquotes Gartner, makes incorrect statements about VMware products and packaging and makes unsupported claims on how VMware will play in the SMB market.

Firstly, Gartner’s estimates of hypervisor SMB market share are far different from those made in the blog. The author should back up Gartner’s statements with citations.

Claims made in the blog about VMware are baseless as well.

Claim 1: VMware continues to add enterprise-focused capability to their product, most of which will not be used by SMBs.

Fact: VMware offers Essentials and Essential Plus editions that are designed specifically for small environments, with features that smaller businesses want. vSphere also comes in 6 CPU-pack acceleration kits, targeted at, and priced for SMBs with a range of features, from the basic server consolidation to policy-based datacenter management. VMware has also launched new products and services specifically targeted at SMBs. Examples are vSphere Storage Appliance, and the cloud-based Go service.

Claim 2:, SMBs end up paying more for functionality that they won’t use.

Fact: The Essentials edition is priced at $83/processor (lic only) and the Essential Plus edition is priced at $749/processor (lic only).

SMB do not need to pay for advanced functionality unless they are interested in high end capabilities such as Storage and Network I/O controls.

Claim 3: Unlike Microsoft, VMware doesn’t really have a way to profit from customers using a free version of their product, giving us reason to expect that they won’t be a price competitor with Microsoft in the short term.

Fact: VMware not only has a strong adoption in SMBs, but also the preferred vendor status. VMware’s > 70% market share comment is true and includes SMBs as well. A broad range of projections on VMware’s market share have been made in the past. However, VMware, continued to be the preferred choice of customers of all sizes by focusing on innovation and keeping the technology lead. This fact is supported by the more than 350,000 customers across SMBs and enterprise that are VMware users. VMware also offers a free Hypervisor for users with simple requirements who want to try out virtualization. It can be downloaded with VMware Go, the web-based service that will guide users through the installation and configuration process.

Please refer to VMware products, pricing and packaging at www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/pricing.html

The vMotion Speed Advantage: It’s Real, and It’s Spectacular

The raw speed of VMware vMotion live migrations for moving single and multiple virtual machines has been a huge timesaver for our customers. Speedy concurrent vMotions let system administrators quickly evacuate the VMs off hosts before a planned server maintenance session so they can get home on time, rather than spending extra hours at work to swap a server power supply or do a firmware upgrade. vMotion also has a minimal impact on VM performance, so mission-critical VMs can be moved during production hours without generating user complaints.

vSphere 4.1 introduced support for up to eight concurrent vMotion migrations per host and 10Gb vMotion networks. vSphere 5 boosted the raw speed of each vMotion over 1Gb and 10Gb networks and added the ability to utilize multiple network links. Now, thanks to independent lab tests conducted by Principled Technologies, we can show just how fast vMotion operates.

Principled Technologies compared vSphere 5 vMotion performance to live migrations conducted with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V R2 SP1. The comparison to Hyper-V was of special interest to us because we’ve seen claims from those in the Hyper-V camp that allowing multiple concurrent vMotions couldn’t possibly be faster than Hyper-V’s one-at-a-time live migrations because Hyper-V can saturate a network link with its live migration memory copy traffic. The Hyper-V advocates discounted the advantages of concurrent vMotions, arguing that they would be bottlenecked by the network.

The results of the Principled technology tests show those arguments are flat wrong. Using identical hosts connected over a single 10Gb network link, a host evacuation simulation where 10 VMs running SQL Server were migrated between hosts showed that vMotion completed the task 5.4 times faster than Hyper-V. vSphere reached its peak capacity of eight of simultaneous vMotions during the test, proving the benefits of concurrent live migrations.


Principled Technologies then looked at live migration of a typical large Tier-1 application. Their test migrated a single 16GB, 4 CPU VM running a heavily loaded SQL Server database. Customers might shy away from such a demanding live migration during production hours. However, the results from Principled Technologies show that vSphere 5 users can migrate Tier-1 apps with confidence, but Hyper-V system administrators might want to plan on some late-night overtime. vMotion migrated the large VM 3.4 times faster than Hyper-V.



Maybe more importantly, vMotion’s shorter migration window minimized the impact of live migration on application performance. Compared to a Hyper-V live migration that disrupted the SQL application with long periods of zero throughput, the vMotion VM was able to process 63% more transactions during the migration window.

PT_Live_Migration_Fig5 PT_Live_Migration_Fig6


Please take a look at the full test report from Principled Technologies to get the complete test details as well as their findings that vMotion showed perfect reliability, but Hyper-V live migrations resulted in occasional, but reproducible, VM blue screens. With differences like these, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is now talking about augmenting a future release of Hyper-V with concurrent live migration capabilities. As with so many other features that are vSphere exclusives, VMware customers will be enjoying their benefits, while Hyper-V users, waiting for Microsoft to deliver on promised enhancements sometime in the future, will be enviously glancing at them.

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.

It’s no surprise that vSphere 5 holds up under pressure, but what about Hyper-V?

Before we head out to VMworld, I want to share with you some fascinating test results just published by Principled Technologies that compare vSphere 5 performance and scalability to Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2 SP1.

When Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, they added a feature called “Dynamic Memory” that they claimed brought them into parity with vSphere in VM density – the number of VMs doing useful work a host can support. We’d tested previous releases of Hyper-V without Dynamic Memory and found that, without the ability to overcommit memory, Hyper-V would hit a VM density brick wall far before vSphere reached the point of diminishing returns. Would Dynamic Memory yield a breakthrough improvement for Hyper-V? We had our doubts because of Dynamic Memory’s reliance on in-guest ballooning as its only way to reclaim memory from guests to support memory overcommitment. We knew from our history with ESX, ESXi and vSphere that getting good, predictable performance when VM density gets high and host memory is overcommitted requires more than just ballooning. We’ve built an array of technologies into vSphere that have been optimized for over a decade to make it a platform our customers feel comfortable with when pushing resources to the limit.

To get an answer, VMware commissioned Principled Technologies to do a side-by-side comparison of vSphere 5 and Hyper-V R2 SP1 throughput when running a SQL Server workload under high VM densities. They used the well-respected DVD Store Version 2 benchmark to measure total throughput delivered by a host running 24 VMs, and then 30 VMs. With 24 4GB VMs, the 96GB host was just reaching full memory commit, and 30 VMs pushed it to 25% memory overcommit – familiar territory for vSphere users.

The results won’t surprise vSphere customers – here’s how the VM-by-VM score looked:


When Principled Technologies added up the throughput of each VM, vSphere 5 delivered 19% more aggregate throughput (orders per minute as measured by DVD Store) on the host running 30 VMs.


Findings that really pleased our vSphere engineers became evident when Principled Technologies dug into the benchmark results a little deeper. One of the key behaviors we seek with vSphere is fairness across the VMs. Assuming equal resource shares and limits, we want each VM to perform as well as its neighbors. Too much variability would be unfair to your users who might get their workloads stuck on an underperforming VM. vSphere 5 came out ahead in fairness as shown in the figure below with a tighter standard deviation in throughput across the 30 VMs as the smaller height of the vSphere box shows in the chart below.


Another striking validation of vSphere 5’s scalability advantage over Hyper-V R2 SP1 was shown when Principled Technologies compared aggregate DVD Store throughput for the 24 VM and 30 VM cases. For Hyper-V, its throughput dropped by 3% when six VMs were added. Evidently, Hyper-V with Dynamic Memory doesn’t hold up so well when you make your VMs do some real work once the host memory becomes overcommitted. In contrast, vSphere 5 throughput increased by 11% as those six additional VMs were added. vSphere 5 is clearly handling the 25% memory overcommit condition with ease.


So, thanks to Principled Technologies, we have the answer to our question: vSphere 5 holds up better under workload and memory pressure to let our users reliably achieve higher VM densities and that means better scalability and lower costs. You can access the full report from Principled Technologies titled, “Virtualization Performance: VMware vSphere 5 vs. Microsoft Hyper-V R2 SP1” on their Web site here, or we’ve also posted a copy on our site here.

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.