Virtualization Pro

May 27 2008   1:09PM GMT

Virtualization Competitive Analysis in the middle of an ROI Calculator?

Rich Brambley Rich Brambley Profile: Rich Brambley

Microsoft recently published their Integrated Virtualization – ROI Tool, and I thought “That’s great. When the time comes I will have the ability to provide Microsoft branded reports to support a Microsoft virtual infrastructure opportunity.” I did not take the time to check out calculator first, but I assumed (or hoped) that it would provide clear answers about licensing costs and the confusing licensing options for virtualization. It wasn’t until I read VMware’s post Microsoft’s Virtualization ROI/TCO Calculator: Our Take that I decided I’d better understand what Microsoft’s ROI calculator produced.

Specifically, VMware’s post asked me to consider the inaccuracies they found:

“… evaluate the Microsoft calculator yourself – let us know what else you find! “

So I did just that, but it wasn’t how Microsoft calculated the numbers that bothered me most. I struggled to understand why a TCO and ROI calculator included a competitive analysis. After all, VMware’s TCO calculator doesn’t compare the cost of competitor’s products. What does that have to do with return on investment? It just seems out of place to me. Furthermore, if you go back and review VMware’s points they are mostly about the competitive cost comparison, too. It’s easy to forget we are discussing a TCO / ROI calculator.

As for using the calculator for ROI, it’s fine, I guess. But it did not live up to my basic expectations of helping with licensing. In fact, intentional or not, Microsoft comes across as trying to hide accurate licensing costs, as VMware points out:

“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.”

On the other hand, I think I can use the Windows Server Virtualization Calculators to help estimate licensing costs. But I shouldn’t have to use another calculator to verify the first one. Overall, I am left with the same feeling I get when trying to buy a new car. It’s similar to that doubt about the “dealership transport” charges or the frustration of feeling that I’m missing hidden costs even though the price is right. I am being forced to do way too much research.

I understand that the next few years will be filled with explaining the technical and financial differences between Microsoft, Citrix, VMware and all the other virtualization products. A competitive analysis calculator would come in handy. A single, unbiased virtualization competition calculator might be impossible to create, but even separate tools from each vendor that let you enter your own pricing numbers would be a great start. Call these tools what they really are. Don’t hide them in an ROI Calculator.

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