I’m currently working on several new projects that have a common theme — much more complex applications being virtualized as a second phase virtualization project.
Among the most complex of them are Meditech servers we are currently virtualizing for several clients. If you are unfamiliar with Meditech, it certainly is classified as a more complex application that is relied upon heavily in the healthcare sector that clients wouldn’t even joke about virtualizing just a few years ago.
Over the last few years we’ve worked with some clients comfortable being on the cutting edge and have P2V’d their Meditech servers, but I think this year just might be the tipping point where more complex application servers can be included in plans during the initial virtualization projects instead of being left for some unknown point in the future.
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.
Xen.org is set to release Xen Cloud Platform (XCP). XCP will provide essentially a ready-made set of federated open source cloud enabling projects under a single distribution to help accelerate organizations that want to deploy a private or hybrid cloud.
Press Release Quick Read:
A key focus of the XCP initiative will be to provide technology that permits easy interoperability between internal enterprise “private clouds” and leading external cloud platforms like Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud Servers.
The Xen Cloud Platform will accelerate the development of a wide variety of key technologies and standards that address this need in an open, non-proprietary way, including:
- Broad interoperability across disparate virtualization platforms – Through standards such as the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) Open Virtualization Format (OVF), virtual appliances will be packaged in a hypervisor-independent format for easy transport between internal and external clouds with no proprietary vendor lock-in.
- Support for new and existing applications – Existing applications currently running in enterprise datacenters will be enabled to run in Xen-based cloud platforms without modification. This flexibility will allow users to choose where each application should run based on business needs rather than limitations of the technology or proprietary requirements of their current virtualization or cloud vendor.
- Federated compute capacity – With federated capacity, the process of moving application workloads between
virtual datacenters and disparate cloud service providers will be simplified. Standardized virtualization management – Support for DMTF standards will allow complete open management of virtual infrastructures.
- Rich virtual networking capabilities – A powerful open virtual switch will make it easy for cloud providers to add sophisticated network service offerings, including per-tenant network management, intrusion detection, firewalling, routing, and load balancing.
- Cloud-scale virtual storage infrastructures – Advanced storage features required by enterprise workloads will enable virtual machines and their physical storage to be widely separated without disrupting application performance.
Citrix to open source their code
I asked Simon about a detail he had mentioned during their initial comments to make sure I was understanding accurately. He confirmed that proprietary code that XenSource and Citrix developed as value-added features such as XenMotion, virtual switches and storage links will be part of the open-source code from Citrix that the XCP will have as part of the distribution.
My analysis: Why would Citrix open-source their code?
We discussed the the expected impact to Citrix and XenServer. Both Simon and Ian think that having a bigger footprint of XenServer is good for Citrix and ISVs in general because the XCP won’t necessarily be focused on the management layer, but the foundational components to having a stable, functioning cloud platform. After all, Citrix is already providing XenServer for free.
In fact, the orchestration and management capabilities of open source projects Eucalyptus and OpenNebula.org as well as commercial offerings from vendors and cloud providers will integrate with XCP since these projects are Xen-based already.
Simon said the plan is for Citrix Essentials to work with XCP, so this makes business sense to me. Citrix gets more XenServer in organizations that already are running Xen to power their clouds and have an opportunity to sell more Citrix Essentials.
Ian said that the release is scheduled for Q409, but reminded me that open-source projects don’t necessarily adhere to firm release dates because of their community-dependent nature. Ian felt that it would be sooner than later however, because all of the components are already being used in production environments, so there shouldn’t be the version 1.0 mystery that most products have and its just packaging them together into a cohesive distribution.