back to article VMware has clouded the SmartNIC market, not created it

About a decade ago hyperscale clouds realized that they couldn't rent all the cores in their servers because some of them were doing boring work needed to make secure multitenancy possible. So they offloaded that work into network interface controllers imbued with some modest computing capacity – devices known as SmartNICs or …

  1. Nate Amsden

    $20,000 server

    My vmware servers were ~$30,000 (with enterprise+ licensing for 2 sockets) back in 2011, newer servers kept with about that same price point up until the last big round of purchases maybe 5 years ago(~44 real cores 384GB memory with 4x10G and 2x8G FC). I'd assume a good vmware server today with plenty of cores would be at least $50,000 today with the new license fees etc (64+ real cores, 768GB of memory).

    In fact I just priced out a "PowerEdge R7525 Rack Server" (normally I do HP but Dell's site is easier to quote with), and the cost without VMware licensing came to $41,557 then add in $10k for vSphere and you're above $50k. Wow that was a better guess than I expected.

    And that doesn't even take into account NSX licensing, which I assume the customer would require if they wanted to use DPUs. Have never priced that but believe it's a non trivial expense.

    Even now it seems on VMware's site a simple enterprise+ license with 1 year of production support is $5k/socket still(about what it was 10 years ago?).

    DPUs sound like a more natural fit for vSAN (for dedupe and compression etc) than networking, it seems the overhead of storage for HCI is pretty huge. Though it seems VMware hasn't figured out how to do that yet. vSAN customers are(I am not one) certainly much more plentiful than customers driving so much network traffic that they need/want DPUs.

    Me, I'm just now getting around to upgrading(very carefully, especially with firmware and driver version matching) to vSphere 7, hoping most of the bugs are worked out, ESXi 6.5 has been rock solid for years not a single issue. I see nothing in vSphere 8 that looks remotely interesting to me personally. DPUs sound cool on paper, it will probably take a while for them to get the bugs out.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: $20,000 server

      Yep, the classical VMware problem: You must have at least 200'000 € project for it to come to the cost effective range - better near 300'000 €. Below that other good hypervisors with cluster capability are plenty available. Or it is a "strategic" decision to stick to VMware.

  2. manford


    I am wondering if this marketing decision is related to VMware now being owned by Broadcom. There could be an antitrust issue here with VMware, Symantec and hardware DPUs all combining under the Broadcom umbrella to muscle out any competition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Antitrust?

      "I am wondering if this marketing decision is related to VMware now being owned by Broadcom."

      These SmartNIC's have existed long before Broadcom bought VMware.

      There could be an antitrust issue here with VMware, Symantec and hardware DPUs

      What sort of benefit does Symantec bring here? Damaged goods.

  3. thondwe

    I.T. Circles again

    Once was VM Server + Networks + SANs, then hey, hyperconverged - Server can do it all, then maybe that's a waste, can we sell you specialist kit to off load network (and maybe storage) - and round we go...

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