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Recently we came across the updated VMware cost per application calculator and discovered what our customers and partners have been telling us all along – VMware vSphere 5.1 costs more than Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 combined. And we’re not just talking about license acquisition cost, but also the capital expenditure costs (CAPEX), including power, space, storage, and server hardware costs. 

To see for yourself, plug in the following values in the calculator–

  1. Number of VMs: 100
  2. Virtualization host type: Server B
  3. Network storage type: iSCSI SAN
  4. Compare to vendor: Microsoft
  5. VMware vSphere 5.1 edition: Enterprise Plus
  6. Management deployed on physical or virtual: virtual
  7. Electricity: low
  8. Real estate: low

(It’s important to note that these aren’t random values — they represent a common datacenter virtualization scenario.) When you input these values into the calculator and review the output – the headline looks like the following:

The cost-per-application to virtualize 100 apps using VMware vSphere 5.1 Enterprise Plus edition is 19% higher than with Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center 2012.

However, we firmly believe you will save far more with Microsoft.  According to VMware’s calculator, Microsoft’s total software cost ($974) is much lower than VMware’s ($1,491), but the infrastructure cost ($1,198) is higher than VMware’s ($1,083) infrastructure cost. Why is this the case?

This happens because the calculator assumes that a VMware ESXi host can run 20% more applications than a Microsoft Windows Server 2012 (Hyper-V) host—an assumption with little credibility or real-life customer evidence.

  1.  The calculator bases the “run 20% more applications advantage” on a third party, VMware commissioned report from August 2011 that compares vSphere 5 to Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1. Dynamic Memory, introduced in Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1 has been improved in Hyper-V 2012, a fact that VMware simply ignores. Moreover, you cannot apply the results of a test performed with a previous version of the product (Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1) to the current version (Hyper-V 2012) and assume everything remains constant.  Why would VMware choose to base results on older technology?  This paper about the advantages of Hyper-V over vSphere 5.1 provides the likely answers.
  2. Also, this report doesn’t build on a realistic customer scenario. VMware was able to show an 18.9% performance improvement (and higher consolidation ratio) only when using many VMs running the exact same workload with the exact same data and overcommitting the host — under specific VM configurations and settings. Ask yourself:  do you ever run the exact same workloads with exact same data on a host and overcommit in a production environment?  Your most likely answer is no. 

When you purchase Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012, you get a complete private cloud solution.   A realistic cost comparison with VMware should include VMware’s private cloud solution, introduced recently, named vCloud Suite 5.1. If you re-run the cost comparisons for 100 VMs using vCloud Suite 5.1, you’ll find that a VMware solution costs not 19% more, but around 440% more than a Microsoft solution with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012.

You can try the calculation here.

Let me know what you find when you do real apples to apples comparisons!


Amy Barzdukas
General Manager, Server & Tools Marketing