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VMware ROI Calculator

For those who enjoy calculating potential ROI, VMware put out a new ROI calculator at In general, I’m not fond of TCO/ROI/FUD calculators, since they’re undoubtedly biased in favor of the company that puts them out, but they have some merit in that they can be the launching point for a REAL investigation into TCO/ROI/SNAFU calculations. The VRC is easy to use, offers plenty of data entry points for plugging in applicable numbers, doesn’t really rely on sketchy figures that can’t be validated, and most of all, it has the option to remove soft-costs from the final tallies.

I like that. I like that a lot. In fact, that’s the main reason I like it.

It’s also done in Flash, which makes it fairly universal across platforms (I live on an Intel MacBook Pro running Camino) with a simple plugin. The ability to remove individual line-items, in addition to ignoring all soft-costs, is pleasant, and the design is simple and elegant – graphical without being gaudy, and efficient without being complicated.

What don’t like about it? Two things, really. The first I’ve already mentioned… It’s very clearly a sales too, and that makes it biased by design when it comes to spitting out the final ROI numbers. While the bias isn’t as bad as you might find when comparing HP and Dell’s calculators, it’s clearly there. I found that by taking it down to two physical server, zero shared storage, and half the hourly numbers that there was still positive ROI when I had soft (aka indirect) costs included. It *did* calculate out negative dollar figures when I removed them, but it *didn’t* give me a negative percentage (giving instead a 0% figure). I was able to get a negative with soft costs, but I had to drop many of the numbers down to levels that fall even further outside the VI3 target-demographic range – like downtime costs and DR assumptions. The second thing I didn’t like was the customization page. There’s an option to enter your own figures if you need to (rack size, burdened costs of staff, number of admins per server, etc.), but it’s limited. It doesn’t go into the costs per server, which are hugely variable from company to company, and can severely affect the outcomes. Likewise, storage equipment costs wasn’t even a field, let alone something customizable, which means the huge differences in NFS, iSCSI, and FC storage aren’t accurately represented.

Those negatives aside, the fact that I was able to manipulate so many figures is a positive thing. So, on a scal of 1 to 10, with 11 being too good but not too loud, I’d give it a 7. I’d give most other tools a 5, if that means anything.

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Joe, have you taken a look at the ROI calculator that Alinean, Inc. developed for Microsoft? ( ) I haven't tested the output as you did for the VMWare ROI tool, but at first glance it looks fairly comprehensive. I came across it while working on an upcoming virtual trade show on virtualization. I'm trying to pull together some useful ROI/TCO tools for the attendees, so any thoughts would be appreciated. I am certainly no expert in this space.