VMware creates new vCenter Operations Manager 'gateway drug' bundle

VMware pros welcome the move to bundle vCenter Operations Manager with vSphere and charge per CPU, echoing pricing changes for vRAM and vCloud Suite.

VMware Inc.'s vCenter Operations Manager Standard edition will now be sold as a package with vSphere and priced per CPU -- a welcome change from the more expensive per-VM licensing model.

Some industry watchers say that VMware's chief rival, Microsoft, along with other third-party virtualization management software players, such as Dell's Quest-VKernel software, motivated the virtual software licensing change.

"VMware is under a lot of pressure from its competitors, and by bundling and adding more perceived value, it moves the needle to purchase VMware instead of purchasing one of a competitive product," said Chris Harney, an independent consultant who specializes in virtualization.

The new vSphere with Operations Management bundles come in three SKUs: Standard, for $1,745 per CPU; Enterprise, for $3,625 per CPU; and Enterprise Plus for $4,245 per CPU. All three new titles include vCenter Operations (vCOps) Manager Standard's health monitoring and performance analytics, capacity management, operations dashboard, and root cause analysis features. The only differences are between vSphere editions, not the vCOps piece.

Previously, the vCOps software could cost up to $300 per managed VM, according to partners, except for vCloud Suite offerings, where it was licensed per CPU. (VMware's official list price was $195 per VM for vCOps Enterprise Plus.) "Not everyone wants vCloud Suite," said Mark Gabryjelski, virtualization practice manager at Worldcom Exchange Inc.

To manage 50 VMs running on a single host under the new licensing model, for a 2 CPU host, is $2,000, or $40 per VM, Gabryjelski said. Per-CPU pricing also means the cost will be driven down further as users build ESXi servers with more memory and VM density, he said.

VMware bundled vCOps Foundation for a while, but the Standard edition has more performance monitoring features. However, Standard still lacks the advanced capacity planning and forecasting that the Advanced and Enterprise editions of vCenter Operations Manager still offer, according to Bob Plankers, virtualization architect with a major Midwestern university.

Update: After this story was published, VMware officials said vCOps Foundation was offered for free as an optional download to vSphere customers with support contracts, but was not bundled in previously.

Additionally, VMware officials said Standard Edition has included advanced capacity planning since version 5.6 released in October 2012. The Advanced edition offers configuration compliance features, among others, and the Enterprise edition allows for OS- and application-level monitoring, change and configuration management. A full list of the differences between product editions can be found here.

"To some extent, it's still the drug dealer model -- first one is free -- because it'll be easy for people to upgrade once they're running it, and VMware makes its money on [Service and Subscription] anyhow," Plankers said.

Not every customer will be swayed by this tactic, however.

"We have an ELA [enterprise licensing agreement] with VMware, and it includes vCenter Operations," said Wayne Gateman, an area coordinator of virtualization for a Fortune 15 company in the medical distribution and software field. "However we continue to use VKernel."

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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