The TechTarget family of blog sites has a lot of great information. That’s why we have several of their sites linked in our Blogroll (under “Virtualization” in the right sidebar). But one thing that I don’t like about their sites is that – unlike this blog – there is no way to directly comment on their posts. That makes it difficult to respond to posts like the one last week on VMware’s High Availability (VMHA).
In that post, author David Davis opens by stating:
VMware’s High Availability (VMHA) provides high availability to any guest operating system at a potentially much lower cost than other HA options (as you don’t have to pay per virtual machines [VMs] or per server; VMHA is included in the price of vSphere).
I have a couple of problems with this statement.
First, I don’t know what “a potentially much lower cost” means. Is it less expensive than other HA options, or isn’t it? If it is, which other HA options are you comparing it to? If you’re going to throw that line out there, shouldn’t you give us the data on which the statement is based?
Second, it appears that the “lower cost” claim is primarily based on the fact that VMHA is included in the price of vSphere, rather than requiring a separate license. That’s a little like claiming that the high-end German sound system is less expensive if you get it in a Mercedes – because it’s standard equipment – whereas if you want one in your Malibu you have to buy it separately. What matters is the total amount of money I have to spend to get all the functionality I need, isn’t it?
It is true that with, say, Citrix XenServer, you have to purchase a Citrix Essentials for XenServer license to get HA functionality. That will cost you, at the suggested retail price (which nobody actually pays), $2,500 per XenServer for the Enterprise Edition. But the copy of XenServer you’re putting it on is free. On the other hand, vSphere 4 lists for $2,875 per processor, so if I’m using dual-processor servers, I’m looking at $5,750 for vSphere 4 compared to $2,500 for that copy of Essentials for XenServer. If I’m using quad-processor servers, vSphere 4 is going to run $11,500, but I still only need that single license for Essentials. And don’t forget the cost of VirtualCenter to control my vSphere environment, whereas XenCenter is, again, free, and runs on a workstation rather than requiring a dedicated server.
The point of this post is not to argue the relative merits of vSphere vs. XenServer, nor of whose HA feature is better. In fact, if you follow this blog, you’ll know that we’ve raised some red flags regarding how to properly deploy XenServer HA without risking potentially “career-altering” disasters. The point is simply that the old adage “don’t believe everything you read” is particularly appropriate for stuff you read on the Internet. (But you already knew that, right?)
People who throw out unsubstantiated generalized statements need to be challenged. If the TechTarget site allowed comments, I would have challenged the statement there. Since they don’t, I’m challenging it here. If I’m missing something, David Davis (or anyone else, for that matter) is welcome to comment on this post and point out what it is.