The Virtualization Room

May 5 2009   2:52PM GMT

Microsoft: With vSphere, now we’re even cheaper than VMware!

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

Microsoft is nothing if not persistent.

The folks up in Redmond have fired yet ANOTHER salvo against VMware. This time it’s in the form of a blog post by Edwin Yuen, the senior technical product manager for Microsoft’s integrated virtualization team. (You may know him as “Laughing Guy” from the now-notorious “Microsoft Mythbusters” video.)

Microsoft has always said VMware is more expensive than Hyper-V, and Yuen uses the upcoming release of vSphere 4 to drive that point home even further in his post, “VMware vSphere pricing – Meet the new price; same as the old price, only more.”

Yuen points out something I heard a few complaints about at last week’s New England VMware User Group meeting: To get the most out of vSphere, you’re gonna have to buy the Enterprise Plus edition, which carries a higher price tag.

“For those customers who want these new vSphere features, there is a net increase in their cost,” Yuen writes. “Even when we compare just vSphere Enterprise SKU, the cost of vSphere Enterprise is five times that of buying the Microsoft solution with the Server Manage Suite Enterprise.

Yuen also claims vSphere Essentials (for SMBs) is four times more expensive than the corresponding Microsoft product and vSphere Essentials Plus is 12 times as costly.

“Everyone, including those of us at Microsoft, were wondering if VMware would drop their prices in the new version of vSphere,” he writes. “When I sat down to actually figure out the pricing, it was pretty clear that the pricing really didn’t change for many customers and the prices still don’t compare to the offerings from Microsoft.”

VMware must have anticipated this attack, because last week the company updated its cost-per-application calculator for vSphere. There, the company claims 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.”

The update also features charts that aim to show how VMware’s price advantage increases as consolidation ratios get higher. That’s the most important figure, according to VMware consultant Tony Wilburn.

“You have to consider price per VM,” he said to me on Twitter this morning. “It’s the only calculation that makes sense.  Less VMs per host, more hosts means more $$.”

I’m not going to even try to break down who’s right and who’s wrong, because honestly, too much math makes my head hurt. That’s why I’m a writer.

But judging by some VMware users’ comments I overheard, Microsoft’s constant “VMware costs way too much” messaging may finally be hitting home — and that should be concerning for VMware, regardless of what its calculator says.

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