There’s always a danger in posting a reference diagram with actual hardware and pricing. Besides the obvious problems of fluctuating prices, the almost religious fervor that surrounds these choices generates more heat than light.
Nevertheless, I’m going to do it anyway. Let’s get the ground rules out of the way with this thought experiment before we cover the disclaimers:
Small Businesses can benefit from VMware but face these challenges:
- The value proposition is often non-obvious at their small scale
- They have no time or desire to tinker or experiment
- They need to know all of the costs before proceeding
- They want a solution, not a concept
- They really could care less about “V-Anything” names
Entry-Level with some Scalability
One way to quickly get to cost is to articulate a hardware platform made up of real equipment with real prices. Let’s ignore the religion of what hardware gets chosen and lay out some simple requirements for an entry-level environment:
- It has to be production-ready and work with VMware
- It has to be entry-level
- It has to have some scaling capabilities and yet not burden small business by paying for scale that’s mostly unused or might never be used
Clearly, there will be trade-offs and your own requirements will dictate your choices. With those simple requirements, these choices were derived:
- Quantity two (2) identical ESX host platforms with local storage, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and at least 4GB of memory.
Why two? You want a hardware platform that can scale all the way from the free ESXi server to VI Enterprise without changing out the underlying hardware.
- Quantity one (1) iSCSI external storage with the range of JBOD to RAID flexibility.
Why external and why iSCSI? You don’t know it yet, but you’re going to want the live Virtual Machine migration feature known as VMotion when you can afford the license. You don’t want to reconfigure your storage.
For the ESX hosts, I chose Dell’s 1950 with 4GB of RAM for $1,950 per machine for a total of $3,900. For the external storage, I picked the Thecus i4500R with 4TB of raw storage for $1,680.
That brings the price of a production-ready small business VMware hardware environment to $5,580.
Still Not the Whole Story
In my next post, I’ll fill in the VMware license and support costs to fully illuminate the choices available for this hardware environment. The usefulness of this approach is you can answer specific questions without the “it depends” uncertainty that is an immediate red flag to small business owners.
After all, if it was your money, would you get in the virtualization taxi-cab without knowing the rate or the trip’s distance?
Paul Ely | Technical Operations Director | E-Oasis