VMware View is a server hosted desktop virtualization solution that supports Windows-based virtual machines that execute on VMware’s vSphere hypervisor platform. As a server hosted desktop virtualization solution VMware View requires connection between the client workstation and a central server instance that hosts the virtual desktop environment. View also provides “experimental” support for disconnected operation using View Local Mode.
I am looking to make a number of cost models available comparing all forms of desktop virtualization solutions against a baseline set of functional and nonfunctional requirements. Wherever possible I intend to use published reference architectures, modified when necessary to accommodate real-world requirements, that meet or exceed the standard baseline requirements I published here.
My initial goal is to develop a cost model that will allow me to calculate the cost of a mid-sized (500 – 5,000 users) VMware View 4.6 environment, and to this end I’m using the information provided in HP’s “Enterprise Reference Architecture for Client Virtualization for HP VirtualSystem” as my baseline. I don’t really consider this reference architecture model to be suitable for production use due to shortcomings allowing system availability – there is no accommodation for individual component failure nor is there a provision for a business continuity environment – something that I consider a necessity for any production VDI deployments. These two points aside the HP reference architecture is well thought out and lends itself well to developing a basic cost model. Further refinement of the model will be made over time to incorporate additional cost elements such as data center networking hardware, data center power and cooling systems and so on as necessary to implement a comprehensive solution.
Where did the costs, equipment specification and sizing data come from?
All hardware pricing except for the HP P4800 SAN was obtained from the HP Small and Medium Business store front. The P4800 costs are not available from the Web store and were obtained direct from Kate Davis (@kateatHP) the HP P4000 product marketing manager.
The pricing and other data points used in the HP VirtualSystem for VMware View cost model were obtained as follows:
- Reference Architecture - HP Enterprise Reference Architecture for Client Virtualization for HP VirtualSystem
- Modifications needed to support production deployment - myself
- VMware View Costs - VMware
- Windows VDA Costs – Microsoft – Licensing Windows for Virtual Desktops
- Data Center Power and Cooling Costs – Estimated cost provided by subject matter expert
- Server Power Consumption - HP Power Advisor
- Storage Power Consumption - HP Power Advisor
- Network Switch Power Consumption - Estimate provided by subject matter expert
Are the published prices realistic?
That is an extremely difficult question to answer. The price is that HP publishes through the HP Small and Medium Business store front are real, credit card in hand you can logon and buy equipment at these prices. However, once volume enters the picture, substantial discounts can be obtained. what is substantial? again that is hard to answer, the size of discount that may be achieved depends on the size of the order, local market conditions, when in detailed here you are buying, and the marketing value that a vendor might consider to having you as a customer. The same applies for VMware View licenses. There have been many stories suggesting that VMware has offered very generous deals to View customers, however I do not have any first-hand knowledge of this, and must treated with a certain amount of skepticism. Microsoft Windows licensing is also subject to discounting, although, I perhaps not as generously as VMware might offer.
The pricing for storage, is more problematic. Again large discounts can be obtained but few organizations would consider the P4800 SAN for larger deployments, and this inevitably means that there will be pricing inaccuracies here. However it has to be noted that the P4800 is considered to be a low-end solution with consequent low storage costs in comparison to some other vendors solutions.
What is the “Oversubcription” value for?
Oversubscription is the percentage by which you can override the cost model’s server sizing rules. For example, if a VDI server supported 80 concurrent sessions without an oversubscription setting sizing a system to support 81 sessions would automatically require two servers. Within oversubscription of 5% the cost model will allow a server to be oversubscribed by four sessions before allocates a second server. Setting an oversubscription value of zero will rigidly enforce system sizing rules.
Why were thin clients used when existing PCs could be retained?
There are many justifications for replacing PCs with thin clients as part of a server hosted virtual desktop deployment including:
- Longer life
- Lower capital cost
- Lower support and administration costs
- Lower power consumption
- Improved data security
The default settings of the configuration switches ‘Include desktop PC refresh (Y/N)” etc. were set based on the following assumptions:
Include Hot Standby Servers – Y
All server hosted virtual desktop systems require continuous availability of virtual infrastructure servers for services to be maintained. Failure of one or more servers without spare capacity being immediately available will compromise performance especially during times of unforeseen demand.
Include Data Center Network Switch Ports – Y
In many data center environments individual projects are required to fund their own network infrastructure hardware, although blade server environments require few ports individual port costs are high and need to be taken into consideration.
Include Business Continuity Servers – Y
As with Hot Standby Servers; Aal server hosted virtual desktop systems require continuous availability of virtual infrastructure servers for services to be maintained. In the event of data center outage all virtual desktop services will be lost unless business continuity servers are provided.
Include Data Center Power and Cooling Costs – Y
Server hosted virtual desktop systems require significant data center power and cooling to support virtual infrastructure servers and storage systems.
Replace PCs with Thin Clients – Y
As indicated above there are many good reasons to recommend replacing desktop PCs with thin clients in VDI environments; however, there are circumstances where it may be desirable to defer replacement (budgetary) or functional (maptops for mobile users).
Note: the configuration switches can be adjusted to meet individual needs and the cost model will recalculate accordingly.
Will you be providing an operating costs model?
Yes. Creating a general OpEx model will take some time, but in the interim I can assist with developing models for specific environments.
What if I disagree with your assumptions?
You are free to change any of the input fields, for example if you have obtained better pricing for any hardware or software component, if your test results show you can get more or fewer sessions per server.
Aside from that, please feel free to share any comments you may have or make recommendations for improvement. For my part, I will endeavor to respond to all constructive comments and incorporate any changes that improve the accuracy of the cost model.
Can I have a copy of your cost model?
I’m a firm believer in the value of open source projects, and as you can see haven’t protected the cost model calculations in any way. So I’m not going to stop you copying it other than to draw attention to the license which permits it use for non-commercial purposes only. Having said that I would prefer it if you could link to this page rather than embedding the cost model in to your own page or copying it; partly because I’d like to be sure that anyone using it has access to the latest version of the model and any accompany in notes, but also because I think there’s more value to be had by cooperating to improve a single model than in creating multiple competing models.
If you are interested in using it for commercial purposes, then please get in touch.
New feature – Introduced a new configuration switch that supports replacement of a percentage of desktop PCs with thin clients, along with a data entry cell to input the percentage to be changed.
Updated FAQ to reference this change.
Addition of data center networking port calculations – number of ports required, costs, and power calculations. Network Port calculations
Corrected error in Windows VDA license calculation.
Addition of data center power and cooling calculations – calculation of power consumption by data center servers and storage and calculation of cost of provisioning power consumed.
Developed cost model using the information provided in HP’s “Enterprise Reference Architecture for Client Virtualization for HP VirtualSystem” as baseline. With appropriate modifications to support real world production environments i.e., N+1 redundancy for all infrastructure servers and business continuity to provide continuous operation in the event of data center outage.