back to article Microsoft: Our clouds are cheaper than VMware clouds

Who is the Microsoft of corporate private clouds? Microsoft, right? Wrong. It's VMware, with its vSphere virtualization stack and vCloud extensions. But at the premium prices that VMware is charging for its infrastructure cloud software, the company might want to review the history of the Unix server market and not make the …


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  1. ryanp

    I have been wondering the same thing

    I have started looking at alternatives to VMWare for this exact reason. They used to be the only real option, but MS is quickly gaining ground and at a fraction of the price.

    Asides from the addon prices, VMWare has increased the price with their most recent release. They now charge for the utilization of your hardware, if you want to utilize your hardware to its fullest capabilities, then expect to pay VMWare a lot more than their licensing pricing for version 4.

    I will agree that their product is the best out there, but not by but the lead that it used to be. When you are looking at such a large price difference though it makes more and more sense to use MS. I know that I have started looking at them recently and I am pretty impressed with their product and how far along it has come.

    1. Microphage

      re: I have been wondering the same thing

      @ryanp: "VMWare has increased the price with their most recent release. They now charge for the utilization of your hardware, if you want to utilize your hardware to its fullest capabilities"

      Given a one-to-one comparison what would it cost in licensing to run VMWare and Hyper-V on the same hardware?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apples to Apples

        The biggest question mark on an apple to apple comparison comes down to memory. In Version 5 VMWare decided that they were no longer selling blanket licenses. You now need a license for each chunk of ram you want to use (how big the chunks are varies by service level). When you have a big virtualization server it isn't hard to need 8 or 10 VMWare licenses for it. These can run $1000 each. After that, you need to license any and all windows virtual machines you are running. So unless you are fully open source you are going to be coughing up a lot more for Guest OS licenses.

        Microsoft lets you buy a 2 CPU Datacenter license & get unlimited memory usage on your host as well as free OS licenses for as many Windows VMs as your host can support. This costs about $5000

        Management software to handle farms of servers cost more and are licensed per node. Microsoft is about 1/3 cheaper on that front.

        A Microsoft VIP has a breakdown that goes into some detail & doesn't assume volume licenses.

    2. Daniel B.

      If you really want to dump VMware...

      Go to XenServer. I would not wish Hyper-V even on my worst enemy! The one company that took on that is now considering switching over to VMware. Yes, they are willing to dole out more $$$ just to get rid of Hyper-V.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        RE: If you really want to dump VMware... go XenServer, I agree, it's a lot cheaper and with XS v6.0 they will get very close (public beta is available since July) plus Citrix can offer a lot more than VMware: when it comes to application or desktop virtualization or remote workers they are far ahead of everybody eg MS Remote FX is a total junk compared to the pass-through HW 3D acceleration shared among multiple VMs by Citrix. (For the downside native SR support has been reduced to EqualLogic and Netapp IIRC, everybody else will go with regular iSCSI in XS6.) XenCenter is Windows only but it's really not that crazy to assume you have at least one Windows XP or 7 laptop/desktop somewhere plus there are free alternatvies for linux like openxenmanager, openxencenter etc.

        If you are to virtualize a mix of linux (RH/CentOS 5.x) and Windows servers but not ready for the VMware tax then you should go with XXenServer, I fully agree.

        However if all you want to do is virtualize a bunch of Windows Server 2088-2008 R2 then it's a no-brainer to use a Hyper-V cluster: for starter you buy two Enterprise Edition 2008 R2 and you get total of 8 additional virtual 2008 R2 Enterprise licenses (as long as Hyper-V is the only server role on both) plus your existing server licenses are all fine for P2V. If you grow and you need more you buy Datacenter licenses and get unlimited number of VMs on each Hyper-V host.

        For management you can use either SCVMM 2012 beta which is pretty slow and still buggy or stick with current SCVMM2008 R2. It is pretty affordable for ~$500 up to 5 hosts but subsequently it's pretty much a piece of crap when compared to the competition.

        For more money you can choose from several 3rd party stuff incl. Citrix Hyper-V Essentials (never tried but I assume it's like XenCenter which I liked.)

        Granted, MS Clustering features, particularly failover/fault tolerancy is really not up in VMware land but it's indeed a LOT CHEAPER so for the same amount you can get a lot more/better hardware. Just remember, stick with Windows or only use RH6.x or higher equivalents for linux VMs.

  2. Matt Banks

    Apples to Apples...

    The problem with this is that it compares pricing and not performance and/or management abilities.

    If I could buy VSphere at Microsoft's prices, well, yeah, sure, we'd be all over that. However, the premium we pay for VSphere is well worth it in what we save in hardware costs. We've found that we can get nearly 2x as many virtual machines using VSphere as we can with Hyper-V. When you have 3000+ VM's, that adds up in hardware, datacenter, and electricity costs. Also, there is no comparison in administrative tools. If we were forced to use Hyper-V, I don't think we'd be virtualizing - or we'd have to have a MUCH larger staff to administer our cloud.

    The other problem is not pricing. The problem is that there are suddenly A LOT more eggs in a basket when you virtualize. So, if you get bitten by some sort of software bug in your hypervisor, you're paying a much higher price than you would otherwise be with a single OS going down. I'm sure that there are a lot of brilliant people at MS, but frankly, we don't trust them for anything this mission critical.

    1. Daniel B.

      Right on!

      Having had to work with Hyper-V, I can attest that it is a shit product. Its failover capabilities don't work as expected, and the underlying Windows OS is a liability. The one virtualized datacenter I managed was already creaking by the time I left, and they were already thinking about switching over to VMware. Oh, they also had XenServer in the mix, which never failed them...

  3. IGnatius T Foobar Bronze badge

    Open source virtualization is the best value

    Customers are not willing to pay as much for Microsoft's virtualization software because -- it's from Microsoft. It runs on Windows. That's not how IT is done anymore.

    Open source virtualization is the best value right now. Check out ProxMox VE [] these guys really have it together -- one CD install onto bare metal and you've got a full featured virtualization platform. Tying a bunch of them together into a cluster is almost effortless and you get most of the features of the expensive guys -- live migration, etc.

    Commoditization in this space is going to happen fast. The days of charging premium prices for virtualization are over. VMware is going to have to reinvent itself as a management software company if it wants to survive. Microsoft, similarly, will have to learn to play in a multi-vendor world.

  4. Levente Szileszky

    Cheaper it may be...

    ...but who in his right mind would choose it for anyting other than Windows VMs?

    I run a production Hyper-V cluster and I probably lost a bout a year or so from my life to due elevated blood pressure, anger issues etc that my 4-5 linux VMs caused me over the past 4-5 months. They finally nicely nailed down RH6.1 took 6+ months - but older virtual drivers are still crap in my experience: they are slow and DKMS intermittently stops working so you have to revert re-installing them after every kernel update etc.

  5. Jared Vanderbilt

    A cloud made of vapor (ware).

    Problem is System Center 2010 can't match VMware's current feature set. Microsoft's datasheet mentions functionality that will not be available until System Center 2012 is released. Oopsee.

  6. Joe Montana


    Why would you want to use either MS or VMware with such ridiculous prices?

    It's no coincidence that the major cloud providers (amazon etc) are rolling their own setups based on free software...

    It would be economically infeasible to build such a setup using proprietary software... Not to mention that the whole idea of a cloud, easy scalability, goes out of the window when you have to pay twice as much for the software than the hardware it runs on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Free ain't cheap

      So the 50 vcloud powered service providers are just suckers then ?

      Re: Roll your own, you better have the staff/knowledge to pull it off.

      Or hey you could buy s/w and not have to hire gobs of people.

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  8. Will 28

    Have you asked VMWare for comment on the comparison?

    Given this is essentially MS providing the data, it would seem fair to ask VMWare for their views on the comparison. Perhaps they can provide a set of circumstances where the prices aren't so different.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not the whole picture

    I often hear the comments use Hyper-V as its Free, which is a great sell to management from Microsoft but ive worked out that "free does not mean cheaper" and yes in the context when you look at just the software licensing it is cheaper, when you take the whole stack into review, ive found that the VMware features drive savings in other parts of the stack - VM density and the storage (Thin disks and non-disruptive snapshots/Storage vmotion) - which are things that are still disruptive with Hyper-V - so for an enterprise not ready for use in production environments - not to mention the overly complex software stack and configuration for Hyper-V which makes it significantly more complex to support and maintain - driving up operational FTE requirements significantly.

  10. Synja

    XenServer and HyperV

    Hyper-V was created from Xen Server. I don't know how many people realize that. Citrix and Microsoft have a minor virtualization partnership which is why you see so much interoperability between the two. TBQH, I've never had any problems with Hyper-V, although I've never done the massive deployments that really test the limits of the platforms.

    I did attend a Microsoft sponsored virtualization seminar, mostly to snag free stuff... I got 5 flash drives, a bag full of notepads and desk stuff, as well as a few Microsoft water bottles; I consider the seminar to have been very profitable. Free lunch too. I'm hoping that VMWare will attempt to top that by having an open bar at some point in the near future.

    My biggest issue with VMWare's offerings is the pseudo-Linux kernel that boots the ESX platform, and later becomes the first guest and console (soon to be deprecated). I have always had trust issues with monolithic architecture, especially in such a critical role. ESXi has solved those issues for some time, although I have not personally looked at the remote administration system for ESXi.

    1. Oninoshiko

      It already is depricated

      ESX has been removed completely now that 5.0 has entered GA.

      I would STRONGLY recommend you at least look into ESXi if you are seriously using VMWare's line.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    "Microsoft: Our clouds are cheaper than VMware clouds"

    ...but are they as buggy and crashable as Winblows and can just about anyone hack into them for fun?

  12. Oninoshiko


    MS is say "we are cheaper! we are cheaper!" They have been making this claim since at least 2008.

    VMWare are saying (I was talking with them recently) "We can do maintenance non-disruptively, we have better built in monitoring and management (saving you on staffing costs), we can run more VMs on the same hardware, and we can be used to virtualize PCI, HIPPA, SOX, as well as other regulated workloads"

  13. JDX Gold badge


    Windows server isn't crashable, even recent Windows desktop is pretty stable.

  14. AntiPoser

    MS vs VMware - Vendor vs Consumer

    According to these reports the cost does start to seem a bit high, but I agree with John Gibson's comments. If you are serious about your production environment then those features have to be considered. Also having read this report from a number of sources I see that the some things are not shown, MS ECI pricing requires a minimum of 50 Processors yet the reports use 4 so value is skewed.. also when showing growth MS do not account for VM Ratio to Core so the MS pricing stays linear but what about the HW required to drive that growth in VMs. While I understand that MS marketing is used to attacking to win...we as IT consumers need to start looking behind the published statements...Also this same report refers to the Private Clouds on and have VMware and MS stand up and show us how many case studies or working implementations they have..this would be a more true reflection of what is going on...It is not the vendor but the consumer that can tell the whole truth ugly or nice.

  15. JDL

    How can you trust Microsoft

    With the cloud when their hotmail service has been down for at least 12 hours ... businesses can't afford to have any downtime so if Microsoft can't get that right then that's a big own goal.

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