On Monday March 23rd, VMware released a Cost-per-Application Calculator. This calculator enables you to calculate the cost per VM (or application, as VMware suddenly calls them).  This tool steers away from comparing solely purchasing costs of the software licenses of the virtualization solution, but introduces a ‘Cost per Application’ metric.

What’s wrong with comparing software prices?

Why not just compare listprices for the solution? It has been done many, many times already. According to VMware, those comparisons lack a great number of costs that alter the outcome of such comparison. For example, comparing software prices:

  • Does not account for VM Density, which in turn determines infrastructure (servers, networking, storage, power, cooling, rackspace) costs;
  • Does not account for a complete management solution (including hardware, Guest OS license, database-licenses, etc).


As VMware was building this tool, a number of objectives were defined:

  • Respond to customer question: “How can we compare the actual acquisition cost of virtualization without having to rely only on software licenses?”;
  • Introduce a metric to accurately estimate and compare acquisition cost of a virtualization solution;
  • Present a comparison between VMware’s and other Vendor’s solutions using this metric;
  • Focus on easily quantifiable cost units, not indirect savings like improved productivity or operational efficiency.

The first version of the calculator will only compare VMware Infastructure to Microsoft’s Hyper-V (and SCVMM) solution. A version comparing VMware to Citrix XenServer will be released in the future.

How it’s done

The calculator weighs in a impressive number of variables, like license cost (for hypervisors, guest OS’ses, databases, management tools), hardware cost (servers, networking, storage)


All of these metrics are then combined and defided by the number of virtual machines applications:


When using the tool, you can digg deep into the details and all the metrics used. There’s even a whitepaper that explains the used methodology and assumptions.

The calculator seems to be quite honest, it even shows the Microsoft solution being cheaper somethimes :). There is, however, one major point of criticism to be made: VM density. VMware claims that an ESX box can run up to 50 % more VM’s than a Hyper-V box, and assumes that much in the basic calculation. This tips the scale to VMware being the cheaper solution a lot of the time, and I cannot agree with VMware saying that they’re unbiased in the used methodology. For clarity, VMware has included a table showing the results when using a lesser VM density for ESX.

The report is incredibly detailed, explaining all the (hidden) costs, metrics, assuptions and results. Let me show how it works with an example:


First, the URL to use this tool is http://www.vmware.com/go/costperappcalc. You can immediately begin entering some very basic variables applicable for your environment.


I’ve entered the following values:

  1. Number of applications: 155
  2. Virtualization host type: Server B
  3. VMware Infrastructure 3 Edition: Enterprise
  4. Management Deployment: Virtual
  5. Cost of electric power: Average
  6. Cost of real estate: Average

You can view the full report using these variables here.


According to this tool, using the VMware Infrastructure 3 Enterprise Edition solution will save me 11% on Microsoft’s solution. The report itself drills down on some nice graphs and tables to show your boss:

In addition to these key results, you can read all the appendixes (including details on the calculations and assumptions made on the hardware) in the lower section of the report.

Additional Resources

Keep an eye on VMware’s landingpage (http://www.vmware.com), as there will be some sort of announcement. Also, the Virtual Reality blog will post more (background) information about the tool.