San Francisco -- The incoming CEO of VMware kicked off VMworld 2012 with a gift to customers: the death of a pricing scheme based on how much memory was devoted to virtual machines, a confusing and costly way to measure license fees.
Instead, says Pat Gelsinger, who takes the reins next month from CEO Paul Maritz, pricing will be based on the number of CPUs on the physical machines used to run the virtual environment regardless of the power of those CPUs. So a customer could buy machines with powerful CPUs and run as many VMs on them as they want without any price increase.
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That drew applause from the healthy portion of the 20,000 attendees who sat through the opening keynote address at VMworld, and an acknowledgement from Maritz that the old scheme had been the wrong way to go. "It's an admission that we had made things overly complex," Maritz said later during a press conference.
Under the old system, customers were charged based on how much virtual memory their deployments used; the new system determines how much they are charged based on the underlying physical infrastructure. "It's price per CPU, price per socket," Gelsinger says.
The catch is that customers must buy into a bundled products that VMware is calling vCloud Suite, which Gelsinger also announced, calling it the core of the software-defined data center. VCloud is made up of VMware security, networking, storage and overall management products.
Customers who buy those individual components a la carte outside the vCloud Suite bundle still pay based on the number of virtual machines, according to VMware pricing lists, indicating that is the direction the company wants customers to go.
To encourage that decision, the company is making a limited-time offer to customers who already bought the enterprise-plus edition of VMware's vCenter Operations Manager Suite: through the end of the year they can upgrade to vCloud Suite for free.
VCloud Suite includes vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCenter Operations Suite, vCenter Site Recovery Manager, vFabric Application Director, vCloud Networking and Security, vCloud Director and vCloud Connector.
This package is meant to encourage deployment of software-defined data centers that can deliver the storage, networking, security and performance specs required by specific sets of workloads, says VMware's CTO Steve Herrod, who also spoke during the keynote.
VMware refers to this flexible architecture as the virtual data center and says vCloud Suite contains the tools necessary to execute it.
To help customers gain the expertise to build these virtual data centers, VMware also announced Cloud Ops, a set of educational and advisory services delivered by partners including CSC, Capgemini, Deloitte, Infosys and Canopy. The program includes new certifications designed for IT staff filling particular roles.
It also includes a business-management tool used to carry out cost-benefit analysis of the virtual data center architecture and the changes it requires to customer infrastructure.
The goal, Herrod says, acceptance of the new architecture as the new standard for data centers. "We want the virtual data center to be as reliable as virtual machines," he says.
(Tim Greene covers Microsoft for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Tim_Greene.)
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.
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