Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet to VMware over licensing costs and software charges, using last week's VMworld event in Copenhagen to publish data that purports to show its Hyper-V product is significantly cheaper than an equivalent VMware installation.
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Microsoft threw the spotlight back on VMware just months after the virtualisation market leader was forced into a climbdown in the face of partner concerns when it attached the cost of a license for its new vSphere 5 suite to memory capacity.
This left the channel concerned that heavy users would be priced out of the virtualisation market. In the end, VMware increased vRAM entitlements on all editions of the new product line and committed to being more flexible around transient workloads and traffic spikes.
However, Edwin Yuen, director of cloud and virtualisation strategy at Microsoft, told our sister site ComputerWeekly.com: "VMware is charging per VM and per management tool, which changes the economies of doing virtualisation. Its licensing does not scale linearly."
Microsoft claimed its ECI Datacenter product suite cost €3,354 (£2,918) per processor and had no additional cost for VMs, and said VMware's cloud infrastructure suite cost more than €1,000 extra per processor, with a further €1,493 charge per VM.
Yuen said that the average cost of a 15 VM-per processor private cloud installation on Microsoft technology would be a ninth the cost of the equivalent VMware environment, with obvious implications for the partner sales machine.
He pointed out that as users add more VMs, the cost escalates: "If you have six VMs per processor, Microsoft will charge €282,000, while VMware would cost €1.4m."
VMware CEO Paul Maritz responded, saying that advances in technology meant customers would need to buy fewer licences and could virtualise much more with what they did buy.
"There are some truly monster devices in the x86 space. Today customers are putting 40, 50 or even 100 VMs on a single server; Moore's Law is benefiting our customers."
Maritz added: "On the other hand we will have to move away from tying licences to physical infrastructure to a consumption-based model," suggesting it would be up to the industry as a whole to "walk down that path".