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VMware: vSphere Pricing/Features Announced

April 21, 2009

VMware released more information to the public about its next-generation virtualization product today with the announcement of vSphere. The target is cloud computing and 100% virtualization will become the new mantra.

vSphere introduces much requested support for new operating systems as well. Starting with the release version of vSphere 4.0, the following OSes will be fully supported on VMware’s platform:

Asianux, CentOS, Debian, FreeBSD, OS/2, Solaris, SCO OpenServer, SCO Unixware.

These come in addition to the already supported array of Windows, RedHat, Suse, DOS and Netware operating systems. This broadening of supported OSes extends the gulf between VMware and Xen/Hyper-V even further. As Cloud-OS is a tenant of VMware’s future plans, the ability to support an extended array of operating systems is a requirement as customers export/import between private and public clouds.

vSphere Essentials Editions

vSphere Essentials Editions

For the long-neglected SMB space, VMware now offers a vSphere Essentials to spur the growth of enterprise virtualization in that space. The new package comes in two editions: Essentials and Essentials Plus retailing at $995 and $2,995 respectively. Both packages come with vCenter Server and associated management licenses. The real value here for SMB’s is the included licensing of three physical servers with up-to two processors and 12-cores each.

vSphere Essentials

Why is the Essentials offering so important to the SMB market? With the exception of vMotion technology, the Essentials editions offer small businesses the ability to consolidate up to 85 virtual machines for as little as $35/VM including server hardware (based on 2P, quad-core Opteron systems with 32GB RAM and 4:1 VM:core consolidation ratios).

Feature Essentials Essentials Plus
ESXi or ESX
(64-bit hardware)
X X
vStorage VMFS X X
vStorage Thin
Provisioning
X X
Four-way vSMP X X
vCenter Server
Agent
X X
vStorage API X X
VMware
Consolidated
Backup
X X
vCenter Update
Manager
X X
VMware HA X
VMware Data
Recovery
X
vCenter Server
Essentials
X X
Suggested Retail
Price
$995 $2,995

We believe most SMBs will prove to have more aggressive utilizations than large enterprise averages. As a result, we expect fairly conservative consolidation ratios of 2:1 to 3:1 (per core) in vSphere Essentials integrations with only 3 servers.

Even so, Essentials delivers its solution for under $70/VM (30-40 VMs), and Essentials Plus comes in at $115/VM in a fully HA environment (no single host with more than 66% of design capacity). Likewise, one must consider the value of Update Manager, vCenter, vSMP, Thin Provisioning and VMware Consolidated Backup to SMB’s moving forward.

The additional “IT muscle” leveraged with these options could create may “virtualization as a service” propositions for small integrators wishing to covert CAPEX into recurring revenues. We expect to see many offerings of this ilk cropping-up in the SMB space as wallets tighten and virtualization in-sourcing becomes more popular. In any case, either option presents an attractive value proposition for SMB’s and the integrators/solution providers that serve them and vSphere is the leading platform to make it all happen.

Essentials Features In Detail

Let’s look at the vSphere Essentials major features in some detail to determine their value and position in the SMB market. While SMB’s are more price sensative than their enterprise counterparts, solution components that show early returns, reduce current recurring spending or reduce CAPEX outlays in planned refresh intervals are common to both groups.

ESXi or ESX

At deployment time, the SMB has a choice of hypervisor platform: ESX or ESXi. ESX is the traditional platform while ESXi is especially designed for security and performance with a reduced memory foot print. Customers new to VMware or moving from hosted products will likely stick with ESXi for its ease of use (no Linux console). Only legacy customers with a dependency on ESX service console agents will chose ESX.

ESXi is easier to secure, requires less overhead and shares all of the performance features that its “fat” counterpart – ESX Server – has inside. Think of ESXi as a marathon runner and ESX as a linebacker: both are professional athletes.

vStorage VMFS

VMFS is VMware’s Virtual Machine File System – a streamlined, high performance cluster file system designed especially for virtualization environments. This storage platform is the workhorse of the virtualization “back end” enabling VMware Consolidated Backups, Thin Provisioning, linked-clone templates, vMotion (also works with NFS) and multi-level, high performance VM snapshots.

VMFS is a silent partner in most ESX deployments, but without it, many compromises must be made. Fortunately, it is included for free in all versions of vSphere – including the “free” version.

vStorage Thin Provisioning

Thin Provisioning allows virtual machines (VMs) to be created with larger assigned disk capacity without committing that capacity to storage and without additional licenses needed for your storage system. For instance, may OS drives are virtualized using 18-36GB of space and end-up using only 8-10GB of that space: that’s 50-60% of the space wasted. Thin Provisioning gets back that wasted space by allocating only when it is used.

With EMC/Iomega, Netgear, Linksys, D-Link and many other “NAS” providers scrambling to provide reliable, low-end storage to the small enterprise, many features like thin-provisioning are being dropped in the NAS in favor of lower licensing costs. The addition of Thin Provisioning to ESX/VMFS provides for a nice – if not brute force – bridge between low-end storage and “real” SAN appliances. With vStorage Migration and Storage vMotion, moving from “legacy” low-end storage to better platforms is now “future proof” and even more affordable thanks to vStorage Thin Provisioning.

Four-way SMP

VMware leads its competitors by offering virtual machines (VMs) the capability of running with 1, 2 or 4 vCPUs when the virtualized operating system and applications can take advantage of the extra processing capacity. This is especially useful in SQL and OLTP applications where processes can benefit from multiple threads. vSphere’s support of AMD’s RVI and Intel’s EPT accelerates vSMP even further.

vSphere does support 8-way SMP for VMs in it’s “Enterprise Plus” offering, 4-way is the limit for every other vSphere offering today. With the additional IPC and acceleration features of 64-bit, RVI and EPT-capable processors, replacing 4-way hardware (legacy 2P by 2-core/thread) with 2-way or 4-way vCPU with virtual SMP will fill the bill for most SMB’s and small enterprises.

vCenter Server and Server Agent

VMware’s vCenter is the single pane of glass management console for managing your virtual infrastructure. vCenter Server allows administrators to rapidly provision VMs and hosts using a simple GUI application and track their performance after deployment. vCenter allows admins to automate the response to virtual machine failures and facilitates rules based alarm, action and notification sequences.

vCenter Server Essentials comes with the following components: management server, database server, search engine, vSphere Client, vCenter Web Access portal. Not included in Essentials but now a part of Standard is vCenter Orchestrator (process engine) and vCenter Server Linked Mode (manage multiple vCenters as one unit).

VMware Consolidated Backup

VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) allows the comprehensive backup of your virtual machines without interfering with operations or creating down-time. VCB can be used for both file level and image level backups of Windows and Linux operating systems. Any OS that can be virtualized can be backed-up with VCB with image level backups using full, incremental and differential modes for additional storage savings.

With many things broken about BackupExec in Windows 2008, VCB could easily be positioned as a “go to” component in any refresh cycle or virtualization initiative as a “complexity reducer” or “license consolidator” – especially where mixed OS environments like SCO, Unix, Linux and Windows NT still see some use.

vCenter Update Manager

Provides patch management for virtual machines and ESX hosts managed by vCenter. Allows administrators to patch and remediate virtual machines even when off-line. This feature is especially useful in situations where zero-day exploits may have disabled the on-line patch management capabilities of Window Update, etc. Update inventories for all supported OSes are included and remediations can be dispatched per VM, per server or per logical group.

VMware HA and Data Recovery

VMware HA allows administrators to create high-availability groups and insure maximum uptime based on SLA-related factors. VMware HA allows failed VMs to be restarted without administrator intervention and according to pre-set rules. Likewise, HA actions can be taken to work around failed VMware hosts.

VMware Data Recovery is being billed as a “first line of defense” product to enable “simple and complete” data protection for VMs under vCenter’s control. VMware Data Recovery includes backup job management and data de-duplication to further save on disk storage dedicated to backup tasks.

Conclusions

VMware vSphere Essentials Plus is a one-stop-shop for SMB’s with mixed OS environments, aging hardware and antiquated backup systems. If your small business has sat-out the last two years of continuous improvement in backup and data recovery waiting for a victor – you’re in luck: vSphere Essentials Plus stands to bring it to you in a manageable format and at an incredibly reasonable price point. For full pricing and packaging, download VMware’s vSphere Pricing, Packaging and Licensing Overview or call your SOLORI rep.

One comment

  1. Good blog posting. VMware has a strong potential in the SMB market. I virtualize all new servers mainly for the DR benefits, and hardware consolidation.

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