VMware Details VSAN Pricing: Focus On Simplicity

VMware this week unveiled pricing for its new VMware Virtual SAN storage-defined software offering, giving customers the option of paying on a per-processor basis or on a per-virtual desktop basis.

VMware early this month unveiled the final version of Virtual SAN, or VSAN, but omitted details of the pricing until general availability of the software was announced this week.

VSAN, VMware's first entry into the software-defined storage market, is priced at $2,495 per processor, with no cap on capacity or performance, said Alberto Farronato, VMware's director of product marketing for storage and availability.

[Related: Software-Defined Storage: Separating The Reality From The Hype]

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Customers also can purchase VMware Virtual SAN for Desktop at $50 per virtual desktop user, in which case there is no per-processor cost, Farronato said.

VSAN scales from three nodes to up to 32 nodes, with a total capacity of up to 4.4 petabytes of storage and 2 million IOPS per cluster.

"VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] is a key user case for this release," he said. "We wanted to make sure we deliver a competitive cost per user, so we have the option to license it at $50 per user."

At $50 per virtual desktop user, purchasing the technology on a per-user basis is more economical than on a per-processor basis up to 50 users, Farronato said. "If a customer has a higher consolidation than 50 desktops per CPU, which is rare, they can go with per-CPU pricing.

Pricewise, that is about the middle of what is being charged for other software-defined storage offerings, said Todd Pigram, cloud architect at MCPc, a Cleveland-based solution provider and VMware partner.

"I'm talking about compared to products from major vendors, and not products based on open source projects from companies like Basho and Inktank," Pigram said.

MCPc will be looking at how well customers accept VSAN and the idea of software-defined storage, Pigram said.

"We're going back to the days when companies bought everything from one vendor," he said. "A lot of VMware customers will buy this because it's from VMware."

Software-defined storage is a software layer that provides storage services, including such functions as deduplication, replication, snapshots and thin provisioning, using industry-standard server hardware.

NEXT: Keeping VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) Simple

Software-defined storage is different from storage virtualization, which pools the capacity of multiple storage devices or arrays into a single pool that appears as if it were sitting on a single device. Software-defined storage is not about separating capacity from a storage device, but instead is about separating the storage features, or services, from the storage device.

Farronato said VMware explored a number of pricing options for VSAN with its customers, technology partners and channel partners, and settled on per-processor pricing because of its simplicity.

"We want to make it very simple for customers and vSphere administrators," he said. "These people are used to buying on a per-processor basis. It's simpler than on a per-VM [virtual machine] or by capacity."

The per-processor pricing also aligns with the idea of building scale-out environments, which is when the addition of processor nodes increases the performance of an entire system. "As you grow nodes, you know how many licenses you will need," Farronato said. "There's no capacity restriction, no performance restriction."

At the price charged by VMware, customers will be paying as low as 25 cents per I/O per second and/or as low as 50 cents per usable GB of data in a RAID N+1 configuration, he said .

VMware's solution providers will benefit from VSAN in a couple of ways, Farronato said.

Partners who register a deal for VSAN get an incremental 10 points of margin above the normal margin for the software, he said.

Partners can use VSAN to extend their services offerings around other offerings, including virtual desktop infrastructure, disaster recovery and business continuity, he said. "VMware also plans to create new services that can be leveraged by partners around Virtual SAN," he said.