In addition to the technology that makes up the suite, and perhaps even more eye opening, was Microsoft's announcement of a more simplified licensing and pricing mechanism. Microsoft has been taking aim at VMware with regard to pricing for quite some time. Remember back during VMworld 2008 when Microsoft's www.vmwarecostswaytoomuch.com campaign hit the Vegas strip, only to backfire on Microsoft with end users and industry pundits? Again late last year, the Redmond giant went on the offensive after VMware's own pricing fiasco took place with the release of vSphere 5, when VMware's community of users were alarmed and upset with the pricing change.
Microsoft's new packaging should prove to be a major differentiator. While VMware is leaving behind physical CPU-based pricing in favor of pricing things on a per-VM or per-virtual-resource basis, Microsoft is sticking with pricing based on physical processors. Only history will judge, but for now people seem to be in favor of one camp or the other depending on how their resources shake out and how much it will cost them in the end.
Microsoft is also moving toward a model in which there are just two editions of System Center 2012 to replace the dozens of combinations that have been offered in the past. These two editions will include all the primary components needed to build private clouds, and it comes at a critical time for Microsoft as they try to position System Center as the primary tool for managing both private and public clouds.
Customers will be able to choose between the Standard and Datacenter editions of the product, based on their virtualization requirements. The low-end Standard Edition license is offered at an attractive price for customers who are small and lightly virtualized. It covers two physical processors and up to two of what Microsoft calls Operating System Environments (OSEs). As virtualization density levels reach beyond the "lightly virtualized" stage, customers can move up to the Datacenter Edition, which offers cross-platform virtualization management for an unlimited number of VMs per physical host. With the Datacenter Edition and unlimited VMs, customers can feel confident in growing their private clouds without the need for additional licensing costs.