We’re Locked-in and We are Afraid to Open the Door

I came across a tender for licences for virtual machines. The organization has 120 virtual machines running VMware’s VSphere Enterprise and they want to continue consolidation by adding 40 more licences. I checked and found the advertised price of those with 1 year of support is a bit over $4000. The licences are only offered for 1, 2 or 3 years so this looks like another monopolistic cash cow. The plan to consolidate servers is sound and will no doubt save a lot of money even at these prices.

The tender also specifies that they will accept no substitutes and give reasons amounting to the title. The cost and risk and delay involved in change is too great… They have already spent about $500K on licences and do not want to learn new ways of doing things or using multiple systems. That makes sense but what are they going to do when VMware wants more money or forces an upgrade? Pay again and again.

I can see their point. It is a lot of bother and stress to switch over systems but they are doing that anyway by consolidation. Likely they need a virtual machine to do that but a virtual machine mimics a real machine and one virtual machine should be about the same as any other except for management etc. My point is, for a lot less than the cost of the new licences, they could likely switch to KVM or VirtualBox or something less expensive. Sure, they would have to learn new ways of doing things but that is doable. Even if they desperately need support they can buy it for less from RedHat for $1000 less per year per server. Indeed, for a deployment of this size, they could be self-supporting for much less. How many employees does it take to manage one package on 120 servers? I think they could for much less than the $640K per year they envisage spending.

This is IMHO another example of lock-in. Once you have dug a hole it is harder to get out of it the longer you keep digging. With FLOSS you build a mountain, not a hole. Because everything is open, you can see where you are going and it is much easier to change later. Wouldn’t it be great if the tender were for expertise/manpower to migrate 120 virtual machines to KVM and to create 40 more? It would likely be a similar cost but one-time only.

This drama is repeated daily thousands of times around the world. People keep feeding the cash cows and the cows grow. It is time folks did more of their IT on FLOSS.

see http://www.debian.org
see http://wiki.debian.org/KVM

apt-get install qemu-kvm virt-manager
That just takes a few minutes and the software includes the licence. So easy yet some prefer to throw money at foreign corporations rather than employees. Sad.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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6 Responses to We’re Locked-in and We are Afraid to Open the Door

  1. ChrisTX says:

    Wait, did you just seriously advice them to replace vSphere with freaking VirtualBox? I lol’d so much.

  2. Ray says:

    Oh well, either way, people are still willing to trust big brand names, even if smaller companies are better. 🙁

  3. Or not. I have worked in IT a long time and never seen much support from external sources that worked. The thing is. If you have 40 identical servers as far as the virtual machines go, what support is VMware or anyone else going to give to keep things running? If they give you a software update for the system they provided why do they get paid 40 times for it?

  4. The money does not pay for warm-body support, just advice. If the servers are more or less similar, one person should be able to hold the hands of the servers. This money is just to support the virtual machines, not the stuff that runs in them.

  5. Ray says:

    Let’s say it takes 10 employees to support 120 servers. Assuming each of them gets paid $70,000 to support them, it already cost $700 K to support it, more than the savings gained by not using VMWare.

  6. Ray says:

    Number one reason: Support.

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