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Pay-per-VM Pricing

One of the aspects of vSphere from the recent 4.1 release is the introduction of per-VM pricing for advanced features. My initial reaction is negative to this, as I'd like my VM deployments to be elastic, to expand and contract features without cost increases. With my grumblings, I decided it was important to chew on the details of per-VM pricing for vSphere.

The most important detail to note is that per-VM pricing is only for vCenter AppSpeed, Capacity IQ, Chargeback, and Site Recovery Manager virtual machines. Traditional VMs that are not monitored or managed by these add-ins are not (yet) in the scope of per-VM pricing. Other vSphere products that are not included in per-VM pricing: vCenter Heartbeat, Lab Manager, Lifecycle Manager, and vCenter Server.

For the products that do offer per-VM pricing, it'll be bundled at 25 virtual machines. Personally, I think this unit is too high. If it is per-VM, I think it needs to be brought down, maybe to the 5 VM mark with 25 VM licensing unit available also. Likewise, maybe a 100 VM licensing unit would act to front-load the licensing better than a 25 VM chunk of licenses. Here's how it breaks down per 25-pack of per-VM licenses:

  • vCenter AppSpeed: $3,750
  • vCenter Capacity IQ (per-VM pricing available late 2010/early 2011): $1,875
  • vCenter Chargeback: $1,250
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager: $11,250

(VMware states that "VMware vCenter CapacityIQ will be offered in a per VM model at the end of 2010/early 2011, and you can continue buying per processor licenses for vCenter CapacityIQ until then.")

Each product has a different per-VM cost, but that is expected as they each bring something different to the infrastructure administrator. Breaking each of these down to a per-VM price, the 25 packs equate to the following:

  • AppSpeed: $150 (each VM)
  • Capacity IQ:75
  • Chargeback: 50
  • Site Recovery Manger: 450

To be fair, I don't think these prices are too bad. Take a look at your costs for your operating systems, system management software packages or other key infrastructure items and you'll notice it's right in line with those costs. The issue I have is that most organizations still do not have a well-defined model for allocating infrastructure costs. Solving that will be a bigger challenge for organizations who are dealing with that situation.

What concerns me is will these products, or future products that introduce per-VM pricing, justify the "new" expense? Meaning, each of these VMs that are now subject to per-VM pricing ran fine yesterday; why are they asking for more money? On the per-VM pricing sheet, VMware explains that current customers will receive details soon on their specific situation; however. Simply speaking, if I am a vCenter Site Recovery Manager customer today; I've invested what I need to provide that environment. If the SnS renewal for Site Recovery Manager comes due and these workloads are now in the per-VM model, I foresee a conversation where they might be asking for more money.

Like all administrators, I just hate going back to the well for more money. I just hope this doesn't become the case.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 08/05/2010 at 12:47 PM


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