VMware will do anything to seed the market with its desktop virtualization products, including give VMware View licenses to some enterprise customers at steep discounts -- or for free.
Earlier this week, in that price sensitive spirit, the company revealed a version of vSphere 5 for VDI designed to cut the cost to run virtual desktops on its flagship server virtualization product.
The disclosure came a day after VMware’s vSphere 5 launch, where the company revealed a new licensing policy for vSphere 5. The new licensing policy infuriated VMware’s virtual desktop community, which moved from a per server/processor to a per virtual RAM (vRAM) model with limits per license. Customers with servers that have maxed out RAM to increase VM density -- common in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments -- feared that the vSphere licensing changes would hike up the cost to run VDI.
One day later, VMware said it would release vSphere 5 Desktop, which costs $65 per desktop VM with unlimited vRAM entitlement. With this version, high desktop VM consolidation ratios won't lead to substantial licensing cost increases, even for customers using third-party desktop virtualization products. (*VMware offered a Desktop edition of previous vSphere versions as well).
Licensing for vSphere 5 Desktop is based on the total number of powered-on desktop VMs and is available in quantities of 100 desktop VMs for $6,500. Customers can buy vSphere Desktop as a standalone product or as part of the VMware View software bundle. Existing vSphere customers can't upgrade to vSphere 5 Desktop Edition, though, because it is only available as a new vSphere license.
VMware View deals
The company is also preparing a new version of its VDI product, VMware View 5, and has started selling current versions at a discount.
One IT services consultant said he's seen VMware give away View licenses with vSphere, even though VMware View is priced lower than XenDesktop, made by its rival, Citrix.
"It's pretty common for VMware to bundle View licenses with vSphere for free for big customers," said Eugene Alfaro, an IT director at Cornerstone Technologies, an engineering services firm. "[View] doesn't match Citrix [XenDesktop] feature for feature, but customers get it for free, then find out there are hidden costs."
For example, vSphere 4 customers paying per node licensing typically have to add server nodes to support View virtual desktops. So, these customers buy more vSphere licenses, and VMware makes out in the end, Alfaro said.
"Customers also end up paying for third-party solutions for features that aren't included in View, like profile management," he said.
Of course, VMware doesn't always give away View licenses and customers shouldn't expect freebies. That said, the more View licenses a company buys, the less it costs, said one View customer who is a VMware architect at a global real estate services firm.
The power in numbers strategy also works for Kipp Bertke, an IT manager for the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DoDD). The DoDD is part of a government-wide consortium in Ohio that is provided with VMware product discounts.
"We get View licenses at a 75% discount, and that's hard to say no to," Bertke said. He now virtualizes both servers and desktops with VMware products.
Apart from VMware's off-sheet pricing deals, the company has a few official desktop virtualization discounts.
- The VMware View Campus-Wide Program gives education institutions and training hospitals significant pricing discounts on View Premier academic licenses. A minimum of 1,000 licenses is required in North America and Latin America to qualify for discounts.
- The VMware ThinApp Windows 7 Migration Promotion lets companies buy a minimum of 500 ThinApp Client licenses for versions 4.6 and above for $19 per client license -- a 48% discount off the full-list price through Sept. 15, 2011.
Earlier this year, VMware ran an official VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus promotion that offered customers 50 free View Premier add-on licenses. The deal has since expired.
*Clarification added after initial posting.