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VMware ships embiggened vCloud Suite after price brouhaha

Discount chop looms; how many dollars per socket?

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VMware suffered a cacophony of complaints over its pricing for its software in 2011, and as part of the latest round of product launches this summer the company moved away from per-VM or VRAM capacity pricing as customers wanted. But to get the more attractive pricing, you have to buy a whole bundle of cloudy tools, called the vCloud Suite. If you buy tools piecemeal, then you get whacked by the old pricing model.

The vCloud Suite was launched by VMware back at its VMworld extravaganza back in August, rolling up automation, disaster recovery, and other add-ons to the shiny new ESXi 5.1 server virtualization hypervisor and its vSphere extensions. VMware has graduated editions of the ESXi tools, with rising prices as functionality increases, as is the case with most enterprise software. The vCloud Suite is intended for those customers who want to move beyond server virtualization to full-on cloud computing and workload orchestration. (VMware draws a line between the two, but El Reg would argue that the whole point of virtualization from the very beginning was to get to more malleable, utility-style computing, not just to drive up utilization on x86 iron where operating systems had crap workload managers.)

When vCloud Suite came out in August, it included the following features:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus: The top-end ESXi 5.1 hypervisor.
  • vCloud Director: Aggregates multiple vCenter management servers and pools of ESXi virtualized servers into clouds.
  • vCloud Connector: Links private clouds to each other and to public clouds.
  • vCloud Networking and Security: A firewall add-on with and other network security features.
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager Enterprise: Does disaster recovery and failover for virtual servers.
  • vCenter Operations Management Suite: This includes vCenter Operations for performance monitoring and alerting, vCenter Chargeback Manager for metering CPU, memory, storage, and other capacity usage, vCenter Configuration Manager for checking the configurations of VMs and hypervisors and ensuring they are compliant with setup and security policies, and vCenter Infrastructure Navigator for discovering apps running in the virtual infrastructure and mapping their dependencies along with their VMs.
  • vFabric Application Director: An application publishing catalog that links into provisioning tools for virtual infrastructure.

What was not apparent at the time was that vCloud Connector 2.0, vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.6, and vFabric Application Director 5.1 were not yet shipping. But VMware announced this morning that two of these modules are now shipping.

The company also said today that one new module that was added to vCloud Suite back in October would be shipping by the end of the fourth quarter (so, within the next four weeks). This module is vCloud Automation Center 5.1, which is the rebranded DynamicOps server, hypervisor, and cloud provisioning tool that VMware acquired back in July.

VMware added that vCloud Connector 2.0 would also be generally available in the fourth quarter, thus completing the suite and making all of the modules available.

vCloud Suite comes in two flavors. vCloud Suite 5.1 Standard Edition includes vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director, vCloud Connector, and vCloud Networking and Security Standard Edition (which rolls up software-defined networking and vShield security); it costs $4,995 per socket. vCloud Suite Advanced Edition, which costs $7,495 per socket, adds in firewall and networking resiliency features and vCenter Operations Advanced Edition. The latter item has performance monitoring and capacity planning across the cloud. The top-end vCloud Suite Enterprise Edition has all the bells and whistles and costs $11,495 per socket and has everything.

Depending on the edition you pick and how many VMs and sockets you deploy using these various VMware tools, the discount from the vCloud Suite bundle compared to buying the components individually is somewhere between 20 and 50 per cent, VMware has told El Reg.

That said, at between $4,995 and $11,495 per socket, the virtual machine and cloud extensions that VMware wants you to buy in the suite cost twice as much per socket as a pretty hefty two-socket x86 server at the low-end and nearly five times as much as a physical server per socket at the high-end.

Most of the money and damned near all of the profit is in the virtualization and cloud software. And that is why the server and operating system makers who don't control their own virtualization stacks cannot make any money these days.

And here's a reminder. Concurrent with the vCloud Suite was launched in the summer, VMware has been giving customers currently using the vSphere Enterprise Plus server virtualization stack a free upgrade to vCloud Suite Standard Edition. That's a savings of $1,500 per socket or around 30 per cent off the cost of the upgrade to vCloud Suite. This deal ends on December 15, so if you are done with server virtualization on the VMware stack and want to move into clouds, it gets more expensive to do so in a few weeks. ®

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