2016–2017 Hypervisor Cost Comparison

Although it is becoming less interesting over time, the hypervisor is still the cornerstone of the modern data center. As we enter the age of the hybrid cloud, that data center is stretching into the cloud. With the rise of containers, we are seeing clouds move to bare metal once more. While this works for new applications, it does not necessarily work for existing ones. Through 2017, the hypervisor will still be important to the data center and to many clouds. After 2017, we will see; it depends on the impact of many new technologies. Here is our 2016–2017 cost comparison spreadsheet.

The cost comparison spreadsheet looks at the costs depending on core configuration associated with various products. The core of pricing, however, is related to service and support (SnS), management, and costs for each instance of the hypervisor. As they are the building blocks, we need management as well as the hypervisor in order to operate the service at scale. This year, we expanded our scale to encompass two main configurations: 10 node and 100 node.

There is a surprise, however. That surprise is that the cost of Hyper-V has skyrocketed in comparison to vSphere’s. While Red Hat KVM and Citrix XenServer have stagnated prices. Microsoft Hyper-V has taken the lead from VMware vSphere in terms of the cost of ownership of just the hypervisor management components.

Product Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 VMware vSphere 6.x RedHat RHV Citrix XenServer
Cost Based Upon: Dual 12-20 Core Sockets, 1.5TBs memory, quad 10GB upgradeable to quad 25GB network, 16GB Fibre Channel, 10GB iSCSI Offload Capability, w/NVIDIA GRID M10 Capability COSTS SOFTWARE ONLY Hypervisor / 2 x 12 Core $9,232.50 $4,395 0 $1525
Hypervisor / 2 x 20 Core $15,387.50
Mgmt / 2 x 12 Core $5,410.50 $5,995 $1,299 0
Mgmt / 2 x 20 Core $9,017.50
SnS / 2 x 12 Core 10 $3,684 $1,099 $1,498 $305
SnS / 2 x 20 Core 10 $6,140
Per Node / 2 x 12 core $25,833 $10,988 $2,996 $3,355
Per Node / 2 x 20 core $43,055
Per 10 Nodes / 2 x 12 core $263,740.50 $115,875 $31,259 $33,550
Per 10 Nodes / 2 x 20 core $439,567.50
Per 100 Nodes / 2 x 12 core $2,588,710.50 $1,104,795 $300,899 $335,500
Per 100 Nodes / 2 x 20 core $4,314,517.50
Notes SA for Server is optional and is appox 20% per annum of purchase price

The pricing changes with Hyper-V 2016 are very noticeable. In some cases, one could say Microsoft is pricing itself out of the market, as many complained VMware was doing.

However, comparing the products has become increasingly difficult. We had to concentrate on core features, not those gained by adding on products such as NSX or VSAN. If we did, pricing would still place Microsoft in the lead with the most expensive product, but it would not be a fair comparison at this time. That will change.

We are also seeing a large shift in how the hypervisor will be sold in the future. Many companies are merging the hypervisor into hardware to form hyperconverged systems, or private clouds such as Azure Stack. VMware has already released a VMware Validated Design approach based on its EVO:RACK architectures, but generalized as VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). Instead of hardware, VCF is about bundling software. Eventually, we will see nothing but bundles of management and tools. Even so, hybrid cloud is a small part of the hypervisor business these days. This will change as more security and other aspects of cloud improve.

Final Thoughts

As the market shifts, we are seeing changes in pricing. Where VMware had the highest prices, we are seeing Microsoft take that spot. We are also seeing hypervisors become equal with the features used by most customers. Yes, VMware vSphere still maintains its innovation lead, but that lead is rapidly shrinking. It remains the Cadillac, but others are catching up. It still should be noted that management, service, and support are where the costs lie for most products. This is no different.

We’re also seeing a growth toward hybrid cloud in the way software is bundled. This is the future of the hypervisor: a part of a bundle that serves as the entryway to the hybrid cloud.

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