I get this question all of the time in one form or another, so I’m trying to determine hypervisor costs for a SMB as if I’m the owner looking to implement virtualization. This is an academic exercise, so pretend it’s your company and your money and you don’t have a particular vendor preference and you’re doing research online trying to determine apples to apples.
I usually don’t work the licensing side of the street, so I’m looking for feedback and correction if the costs are off the the mark. I’m using the vendor web sites and retail prices as if I were an SMB with no vendor connections.
Here’s the scenario:
- It is a small business, one location
- 50 users
- 20 total virtual machines (once P2V’d) all running Windows Server 2003/2008
- They already have 2 physical host servers. They have 2 sockets, quad core CPUs capable of running ESX(i), XenServer or Hyper-V
- They have a new iSCSI storage array suitable for all of the VMs and hypervisors
- They have appropriate network equipment for a redundant setup
- They want a 3 year support agreement to go along with server hardware depreciation rate
- They want one of the following platforms: ESX or ESXi, XenServer, or Hyper-V
- Direct licensing costs is the biggest decision factor – to keep the whole ROI argument simple
From these requirements, we should have a really simple setup:
- 2 host hypervisor systems connected to shared storage
- Live Migration capability
- High Availability if one of the host systems fail.
I went to the Microsoft Licensing assistance site to help me determine what I would need:
It said I need the Datacenter Edition because I was running more than 4 VMs per host.
I worked my way through the tool and it recommended the Open Licensing with Software Assurance on the Server 2008 Datacenter version. The total was $8,094.
Not because the site really says so, but I think I need to add in the System Center with Virtual Machine Manager to be more on par with the other vendor’s management interfacesproducts.
I’m really not sure if I got all of the things included, but I bought Software Assurance with the Windows Server 2008 Datacenter, so I believe for Systems Center it will be $744 , plus I think I can use the Workgroup edition of Virtual Machine Manager for $505, plus I I think I’ll need CALs at $40 each of the 20 VMs for a total of $800. So for the management side of Hyper-V, I think the cost will be $2,049, plus whatever two more years will cost in maintenance.
I think I’ve met most of the requirements. Here is the link to the Hyper-V feature grid. But I couldn’t seem to select 3 years of support with their tools, so there will be more costs each year for maintenance. For one year I think the total is $10,143.
VMware ESX or ESXi
VMware has done a good job with packaging their products for small businesses. The Essentials Plus pack would be perfect at $4,905 except for some reason, it doesn’t include VMotion. So I guess we need to step up to the next level which is VMware vSphere 4 Advanced with 3 years platinum support for $3,675 each, for a total of $7,350 for the servers.
But wait, it’s only for 1 CPU, so I’ll need to contact someone to see how much a second one is to add to my order.
To get VMotion and centralized management, I’ll need vCenter. They have vCenter Foundations for up to 3 hosts for $3,139 for a total of $10,489 for 3 years plus whatever a second physical CPU costs per physical host for the additional two years.
Citrix has the technical product packaged pretty cleanly.
XenServer with XenMotion is free, but I need High Availability and support for 3 years, so I need XenServer Advanced, Citrix Essentials Advanced with 1 year preferred support for $8,500.
I still need 2 more years of support though. If it is linear, it should be $6,000 for 2 more years for a total of $14,500 to meet all of my requirements including 3 years of support.
Summary and To Do List
I don’t think I selected an unusual set of requirements in this as far as the hardware goes. I’ve seen plenty of dual CPU servers as the standard platform for virtualization projects. The 3 year support requirement didn’t seem to be out of line, but it seems to not be a frequent enough option for 2 of the 3 vendors to be in their online check out.
Microsoft – I need 2 more years of support costs. It wasn’t broken out where I could extrapolate it over 2 more years. I also would like for someone to validate that I have the right components and licenses for SCVMM.
VMware – I need to get the costs of adding the second socket CPU into the $7,530 server price
Citrix – I need to confirm that the support costs are $6,000 for two years
SQL server – I should note that both VMware vCenter and Microsoft’s Systems Center should be running with SQL server for production. Citrix XenServer does not require SQL server for XenCenter, so the cost of SQL Server can be deducted to the total for XenServer. For this exercise, I checked with CDW and SQL 2005 Standard was about $2,600.
- I’ll have to contact each vendor’s licensing partner to get the cost of the missing pieces. Fortunately, I work for a company that is a partner to each vendor so it will be an inside job, but for the SMB owner, they’ll have to research further on the vendor’s site to locate a partner to talk over the specifics.
- I invite comments from people that actually implement and license these platforms to steer me in the right direction if you see I’ve got the wrong edition of the platform.
- I’m not interested in trying to sell why I should use one over the other as it appears that each vendor produces a platform that meet the requirements. If more components are required to produce a similar experience to the other two, then please let me know and I can add that in to the cost structure
It makes sense that the vendors would want to drive the larger organizations to partners to discuss pricing options. For the straightforward purchases like this scenario, it seems they might want to add just a few more options in their shopping carts for longer support warranties and more CPUs.