Virtual Pricing: Where To Now?
One great thing about virtualization is
that there are so many amazing virtualization-centric tools available. Many good
tools are free; yet, for the rest, the pricing models end up being a
one-size-fits-most approach. Let’s identify the problem by highlighting the main
models for pricing of virtualization tools.
Among the more common
approaches is per-processor licensing, which is based on the number of sockets
available to the tool (which could span an entire virtual cluster). Per-use
licensing would have a price tag associated with each occurrence of the tool
being used; this can also refer to the number of systems managed by the
tool. Time-based subscriptions define a period of time that the software is
used. Lastly, various forms of enterprise licensing allow organizations
unlimited use for their environment.
The issue is that these are
greatly different strategies, and can end up with greatly different prices. For
instance, not all tools have the same value to an organization. Nor are all
virtual environments equal. The variance in pricing strategies led me to inquire
to vendors their opinions on the topic.
Alex Bakman, founder and CEO of
Portsmouth, NH-based VKernel, offered
the following on pricing: “We sell per socket because that is how VMware prices.
I think that small vendors should let the big boys establish licensing models,
as they have the power to move customers.” This makes sense to me, as the tool
price scales linearly with the size of the virtual environment. Many tools
follow this model now, but what about the future?
Bakman went on to
say “Longer term, I think we will need to move to per-core model, otherwise none
of us will be able to make any money.” Again, I’ll agree as six- and eight-core
systems may make administrators like me think about purchasing fewer
sockets in a system to save on licensing costs on all fronts. Further, tool
vendors need to make money, and protect themselves against virtual environments
that can circumvent licensing mechanisms. One example is Vizioncore’s vConverter, which must be
installed on a physical system to protect against VM copy operations to
circumvent the available per-use model.
This is a very relevant
topic in today’s cost-cutting economic climate. We want to do more with our
virtual environments and we need quality tools for the task. I am greatly
interested in your take on pricing models and the challenges you face. Please
share your thoughts on virtualization tool pricing below or email me your comments.
Posted by Rick Vanover on 02/23/2009 at 12:47 PM