vSphere 5's licensing opens the door for open source

VMware's vSphere 5 pricing could accelerate the shift toward a mixture of commercial and open source products in the virtualization arena

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The general tone of responses on the VMware community forum has been one of shock. Fear of having to explain to one's boss that the cost of VMware virtualization licensing is going to be two or three times higher than expected is, not surprisingly, a key concern. Echoing the comments of many on the forum, Vince77 writes:

Also, when virtualizing servers the only bottleneck I run into is memory, VMware also knows that, so it now builda its licensing (money-maker) based on that.

And every new version of Windows "likes" more RAM to make it run smooth.

Now it's time to really take a good look at Xen server or even. ... HyperV!

An opportunity for open source hypervisors

The new pricing model further increases the price gap between VMware and the two open source competitors, Red Hat Virtualization and Citrix Xen.

For example, Red Hat offers a one-year subscription for as any as six managed sockets, regardless of cores per socket, for $4,495 per year. Red Hat's virtualization offering also doesn't have any restrictions on RAM entitled for use with a licensed socket. Over a five-year period, Red Hat's product would cost $26,970.

By comparison, a VMware customer would buy at least six processor licenses of VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus with product support and subscription over five years for $3,495 per processor license and five years of support and subscription at $874 per year per processor. Over a five-year period, VMware's product would cost at least $47,190, or 74 percent more than Red Hat.

I stress "at least" to take into account the fact that VMware's pricing could be significantly higher if additional processor licenses were required for the amount of RAM being used.

As the pricing gap gets closer to 100 percent higher using VMware versus a leading open source virtualization product and open source virtualization solutions become more mature, customers will have to reconsider their options. I'm not suggesting a wholesale shift from VMware to an open source alternative -- such migrations seldom happen and often never as quickly as pundits would suggest.

But I am suggesting that you evaluate the new vSphere pricing and usage of server virtualization to determine if a portion of your virtualization needs couldn't be better served, at a lower cost, using an open source product.

This move to a balance between enterprise-grade commercial software product, and less mature, but compelling, open source software product has been playing out over much of the software market. VMware's vSphere 5 pricing could simply serve to accelerate the shift toward a mixture of commercial and open source in the virtualization arena.

I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "vSphere 5's licensing opens the door for open source," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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