Private Cloud Pricing: Microsoft Versus VMware

Private Cloud Pricing: Microsoft Versus VMware

What’s the price differential between implementing a private cloud using technology from Microsoft or VMware? One analysis suggests that one costs more than six times the other.

Battle picture from Shutterstock

That figure comes from a presentation this afternoon at Microsoft’s MMS 2013 management conference, which I’m covering as part of our ongoing World Of Servers series. And yes, I know; given that it’s sourced from Microsoft, a grain of salt or two would be sensible, and it’s no surprise that Microsoft comes out on top. Nonetheless it’s an interesting comparison given the fierce battle between the two rivals.

Technical product manager Matt McSpirit set the following criteria for the comparison:

  • The system is running 500 virtual machines, with a 15:1 ratio of virtual machines to host. That equates to 34 dual-CPU machines.
  • No individual Windows Server licence costs are included in the comparison. In either scenario, the customers would have to pay for individual licences; the vast majority of virtualised workloads are Windows rather than Linux, according to Gartner and other market watchers. The costs here are purely those to implement the management and automation systems for a private cloud environment.
  • Prices are in US dollars. Australian pricing would almost certainly be higher on both sides.
  • Prices are quoted retail costs; anyone with an enterprise deal from either company would undoubtedly be paying less (and it’s hard to imagine that not happening with a deal on this scale).
  • For Microsoft, McSpirit calculated the cost of an appropriate number of System Center 2012 Datacenter Edition licences at $122,638. (The actual Hyper-V hypervisor is free, but System Center needed for deployment and automation.)
  • For VMware, McSpir calculated the cost of an appropriate number of vCloud Suite Enterprise licences at $781,660, with an additional $4995 for vCenter Server. That’s a total of $786,665, which doesn’t include ongoing maintenance fees.

Again, that’s assuming you want full private cloud management capabilities; a basic VM deployment system from either provider would be much cheaper. The key lesson, regardless of which provider you favour, is to calculate sums carefully and always push for a better deal.

Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Las Vegas for the Microsoft Management Summit 2013, looking for practical guidance on deploying and managing Windows servers.


  • The two products are very different heh.. I don’t really see a direct comparison as being terribly viable. Your conclusions steer clear of drawing too much from it though, which is professional as always.

  • For the record, based on current RRP’s, the Microsoft solution would be $218,280 (each System Center Datacenter license = $6420), that’s nearly $100K more than what a customer in the US would be charged.

    I can’t help but feel Microsoft are being a bit disingenuous here. As Micheal mentioned, the products are quite different, so comparing the two just on price alone is rather pointless. In any case, Microsoft has always been cheaper than VMware – they have to be since it’s one of the only ways they can make inroads into VMware’s market share. Although System Center 2012 was a big leap forward compared to the previous version, they still trail VMware in terms of functionality (especially on the management of VM’s), so they are forced to compete on price.

  • I think Hyper-V is definitely becoming a more attractive proposition for companies running predominately as Microsoft shops. I’m still firmly in the VMware camp (based on where my experience lies and its support for RedHat, Solaris and other non MS operating systems) but the pricing difference is pretty hard to ignore.

    It does seem strange that the article specifically points out that maintenance fees aren’t included with the rough costing for VMware. As far as I can see they’re not included with the Microsoft quote either (i.e. no consideration for Software Assurance and the ongoing costs to ensure the Hyper-V environment is up to date.)

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