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Cortex Consulting
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3 Oct 2018

"What's this?  VMware is the FORGOTTEN child of the datacentre?  What nonsense, everybody talks about it!"

Do they, though?  Admittedly, this seems like an odd topic of discussion in the days of cloud transition but there are still a great deal of organisations that use VMware to run their infrastructure.  With one exception, this has been the case for every client I've worked with in the last decade.  We see a great deal of material in the market advising end user organisations how to licence certain product sets ON a VMware platform, chiefly Oracle, Microsoft and IBM, but very little that talks about a wider licensing picture.

One thing I preach to every single client I work with, and I'm sure many of my fellow consultants do likewise, is to consider consolidating their virtual infrastructure.  In most cases this simply doesn't happen for operational reasons - no appetite to squeeze resources, security constraints and requirements of different systems, cross charging methodologies all play a role here.  One of the most common objections I hear, though, is that it is simply too hard to do.  From a licensing perspective the answer is fairly simple - demonstrate the money that could be saved by proper consolidation.

Many datacentre vendors continue to licence their products using a core or processor methodology, or some derivation thereof.  Most enterprise organisations, and even some SME's, will be running some combination of datacentre software where processors and cores are the metrics - VMware, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, Dell EMC, Veritas, SAS and Informatica are all good examples of this.  Some of these are vendors who will have products across the virtual estate - Microsoft Windows Server and System Centre, Veritas InfoScale, EMC PowerPath to name a handful.  And, quite obviously, VMware's very own vSphere product set.

At a very basic level, if you consolidate Windows virtual machines, you can save a considerable amount of money.  With one client, I demonstrated how they could save £250k per year on subscriptions for Windows Server and System Centre simpliy by consolidating their VMs in production to the same extent as they had in their development environments.  I know there will be system admins wincing at that prospect, and balancing resources is indeed a difficult business, however most organisations run VMs at a lower than necessary ratio to ESX hosts.  In production environments, 10:1 is probably about average.  Now consider the fact that vSphere 6.x is capable of supporting up to 1000 VMs per host and 32 virtual cores per physical host core.  Quite obviously this is extreme and you need to work with your technical guys to strike the right balance.

With the client I mentioned above, the recommendation was ramp up the consolidation ratio to 20:1.  After all, the development environments were already running that.  When we extended that across the estate, the available cost savings made it a valuable proposition.  With VMware, we could realise a couple of hundred spare processor licences; EMC was approx £200k in support savings; with other clients the savings and avoidance have been similar with Informatica and Veritas.  The message is - if you want to realise serious savings and avoidance in your datacentre, don't just look at vendors individually but your entire virtual strategy.

If you are looking to optimise your licensing across your datacentre, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation on how we can help you.