FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud Excels in Price-to-Performance Comparison

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1 FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud Excels in Price-to-Performance Comparison Published by: Value Prism Consulting Sponsored by: Microsoft Corporation Publish date: April 2015 Abstract: The FlexPod Datacenter is a pre-validated and flexible integrated system offering that combines NetApp and Cisco s compute, storage, and networking technology components. While being largely consistent with hardware, the jointly developed reference architectures support a broad range of operating system, virtualization, and management software stack. The different licensing requirements and costs of these reference architectures make it difficult to compare the FlexPod systems on a price-to-performance scale. Value Prism Consulting, a management consulting firm, was engaged by Microsoft Corporation to review and contrast the FlexPod Datacenter private cloud offerings for two of the most popular private cloud solutions Microsoft and VMware based on publicly-available bill-of-materials, costs, and specification data. On a price-to-performance scale, the FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud was seen as the more cost-effective solution providing high performance and great value.

2 Disclaimer Every organization has unique considerations for economic analysis, and significant business investments should undergo a rigorous economic justification to comprehensively identify the full business impact of those investments. This analysis report is for informational purposes only. VALUE PRISM CONSULTING MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT Value Prism Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved. Product names, logos, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within this report are the property of their respective trademark holders in the United States and/or other countries. Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this report may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this analysis. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this analysis does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property of Microsoft. ii

3 CONTENTS Executive Summary... 1 Introduction... 3 System Costs... 4 FlexPod Hardware and Software... 4 Installation... 5 Maintenance and Support... 5 Price-to-Performance Comparisons... 6 Price per VM... 7 Price per System Core... 8 Price per System Memory... 8 Price per Usable Storage... 9 Conclusion... 9 Case Studies and Evidence Appendix A: Methodology B: About Value Prism Consulting C: Converged Infrastructure System Specifications iii

4 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The FlexPod Datacenter includes an integrated portfolio of compute, storage, and networking hardware from NetApp and Cisco; along with the required systems management software. Adopting an integrated system approach, the FlexPod aims to provide a flexible and easy to scale private cloud solution with accelerated time to value and reduced datacenter cost of ownership. This whitepaper is aimed at organizations IT decision makers and compares FlexPod reference architecture for private clouds built on the software stack from two leading vendors Microsoft and VMware. The FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud uses Microsoft Windows Server 2012R2 with Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center 2012R2 for virtualization and management (validated within the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track reference architecture program); whereas the FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere relies on VMware vsphere 5.5, vcenter and vrealize suites. For consistency, similar FlexPod hardware featuring two Cisco chassis with a total of sixteen server nodes, Cisco networking components, and two NetApp storage nodes with a total of forty-eight disk drives were reviewed and compared. Both configurations where within the guidance provided by Cisco and/or NetApp. Price-to-performance 1 comparisons have been collected and summarized across both software vendors solutions based on a price-per-virtual Machine (VM) metric. Three additional price-to-performance metrics price-per-system core, price-per-system memory, and price-per-usable storage were also examined. In Figure 1 (page 2) results closer to the center show lower price-per-specification. The results show that FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud has a lower price-per-vm for a standard VM profile. The Microsoft based reference architecture is also better in rest of the price-toperformance metrics, thus demonstrating that it is both a high-performing and an economical private cloud offering. This comparison is based on publicly available list price and specification metrics. Individual vendors offer different discounts and volume price breaks, so the actual results may be different than the ones listed here. 1 Refers to the five-year net present value (NPV) of system purchase price. This includes upfront costs of hardware, software licenses, installation, and prepaid maintenance and support; and recurring costs of maintenance and support agreements. All prices are list prices and exclude any vendor and volume specific discounts. 1

5 Price per Standard VM ($ thousands) $8 $6 $4 Price per Usable Storage ($ ten-thousands) $2 $- Price per System Core ($ thousands) Price per System Memory ($ hundreds) FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere Figure 1: Price-to-Performance Ratios across the two FlexPod solutions 2

6 INTRODUCTION Many businesses today are transitioning to a cloud computing (public, private, or hybrid) model that offers greater speed, scalability and efficiency in deploying infrastructure and applications, while simultaneously reducing overall IT costs. Private cloud solutions adopt a virtualized, self-service (IaaS) model that is dedicated to the organization and resides within the company s firewall. However even with a selfservice and virtualized environment, considerable amounts of time and effort are invested in design and provisioning of basic cloud services, scaling out (adding new servers, storage, and application workloads), and integrating and maintaining various non-standard hardware and software components. FlexPod Private Cloud Solution Configurations: FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud i (Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track v4)* FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere 5.5 ii FlexPod, a joint offering from NetApp, Cisco, in collaboration with major software vendors, delivers a consistent private cloud experience that supports business agility and reduces infrastructure and IT management costs. FlexPod is designed as a prevalidated and configurable integrated system solution, and includes: i,ii Hardware components from NetApp and Cisco that are required to run the system, including the rack, servers, storage, and networking devices that support the organization s datacenter workloads; Software required to run the system, including server operating system, virtualization hypervisor, and management software used for monitoring and provisioning of datacenter workloads. With FlexPod, organizations simply follow the available reference architecture design and guidance documents NetApp Verified Architecture (NVA) or Cisco Validated Design (CVD) to build out a private cloud that meets their desired scale and size. The pre-validated designs removes much of the guess-work and planning associated with custom or build-it-yourself solutions that could take many months; and provides organizations an opportunity to get up and running quickly with their cloud initiatives, lower their IT costs, and deploy their revenue generating applications and services much faster. In this study commissioned by Microsoft, two FlexPod Datacenter configurations, as listed in the sidebar, have been reviewed, summarized, and compared. NetApp and Cisco provides via their Website datasheets, architecture guidelines, and bill-of-material (BOM) lists that have been used as the primary source for specification data (such as cores, memory, storage, etc.). List pricing and other annual costs details are cited specifically, and are also taken from public sources. Consistent hardware specifications were used for each solution to ensure consistent comparison across the Microsoft based and the VMware based private clouds. * The Microsoft Fast Track Reference Architecture (FTRA) is a joint effort between Microsoft and its hardware partners to deliver a pre-integrated and consistent private cloud solution. The Microsoft validated configurations increase agility and minimize complexity and risk associated with private cloud deployments. For more information, visit: 3

7 SYSTEM COSTS The system costs over a five-year period were calculated to include upfront investments in hardware, software licenses, installation, maintenance and support; and recurring annual investments in the FlexPod maintenance and support agreements. The summary of the total price for the private cloud solution is presented as a five year NPV, which assumes a discount rate of 10%. NOTE: This comparison is based on the list price and publicly available price and specification metrics. Each unique customer discount situation will be different, and more information (and customization) is likely available from each vendor so the comparison may be different than the one using only list prices and specifications. All prices are listed in U.S. dollars and rounded to the nearest hundreds for sub-categories and nearest thousands for totals. Costs FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere System Nodes 2 (and Cores) 16 (256) 16 (256) Hardware 3 $624,200 $624,200 Software 4 $231,300 $603,000 Installation 5 $5,500 $5,500 Maintenance/Subscription $78,400 $122,400 Support $32,300 $32,300 Total Y1 (Upfront) $972,000 $1,387,000 Total Y2- Y5 (Annual) $111,000 $155,000 5 Year NPV of Costs* $1,324,000 $1,878,000 Price per VM** $2,380 $3,370 * Calculated based on list prices over 5 years. Negotiated prices after vendor discounts will likely be lower. ** Total supported VMs was limited either by capacity cores, memory, or usable storage available for hosting a standard VM with 1.6 CPUs, 3.0GB RAM, and 112GB storage space. See Price per VM section for more details. Table 1: Costs summary for FlexPod Systems (Costs in U.S. dollars) FlexPod Hardware and Software The total price of the FlexPod hardware and software components is based on publiclyavailable information directly from the vendor price lists or pricing tools, from a reseller that has listed vendor list pricing, or if necessary from news or blog articles that have published price estimates. Total retail price for each configuration option, along with the pricing source, is listed below. The Microsoft solution is based on the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track reference architecture design by NetApp. i The total system pricing (hardware and software) of U.S. $855,500 is based on the hardware for a two chassis configuration with 16 system nodes (256 cores) and two 28.8TB disk enclosures. The FlexPod system contains server and network hardware from Cisco, iii storage hardware from 2 Includes capacity and management nodes. 3 Includes cost of hardware components from Cisco and NetApp. 4 Includes cost of software licenses from Cisco, NetApp, Microsoft and VMware. 5 Considers only hardware setup and pre-requisite software installation; with customer performing the workload configuration / deployment tasks. 4

8 NetApp, iv and virtualization and private cloud management software from Microsoft. Microsoft software pricing and maintenance (Software Assurance) are part of an annual subscription. Select Level pricing was used, which is a licensing program designed for medium and large organizations with more than 250 PCs and provides a simple, flexible way to purchase Microsoft technologies. While this is not the least expensive option for licensing, it does provide a good correlation with the targeted environments for FlexPod. Additional Cisco and NetApp software add-ons were included for various system management functions. The VMware solution is based on the reference architecture by Cisco. ii For consistency, we assumed the same system configuration as the FlexPod solution with Microsoft. The total system price (hardware and software) of U.S. $1,277,200 thus includes the same Cisco and NetApp hardware components and software addons, however the virtualization and the private cloud management software is v vi vii provided from VMware. Installation The installation costs are one-time professional services costs related to system and software installation and start up. NOTE: Note that this is only part of the overall deployment cost considerations. Customers should carefully evaluate overall project management, workload migration, and testing costs, which are highly variable and may not be similar across platforms. The installation costs were identified by the SMEs to be the same for both Microsoft and VMware configuration options. Maintenance and Support Most vendors require customers to pay an annual hardware and software support fee as a percentage of the initial acquisition costs. The list below summarizes these costs along with the source and assumptions: The Microsoft solution annual maintenance and subscription price of U.S. $78,400 includes annual software license subscription and software assurance (SA) costs for the Microsoft Windows Server and System Center; and additional NetApp and Cisco software support costs, which ranges 5% to 25% of the list price. Further, we estimated the annual support price of U.S. 32,300 by including Cisco s SmartNet 24x7x4 iii viii and NetApp s SupportEdge Premium 4hr Onsite for hardware. 6 Similarly, the VMware solution annual software maintenance price of U.S. $122,400 includes VMware Support and Subscription (SnS) v vi for VMware vsphere, vcenter Server, and vrealize Suite; and additional NetApp and Cisco software support costs. The support costs of U.S. $32,300 is the same as the Microsoft private cloud option since both configurations included the same hardware components. 6 Vendor furnished pricing data for the purpose of the whitepaper. 5

9 PRICE-TO-PERFORMANCE COMPARISONS The Table 2 below summarizes key specifications of the two private cloud solutions as designed based on the architecture reference documents. Refer to Appendix C for more detailed specifications. Specifications FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere Total System Cores Total System Memory (GB) 7 3,968 3,968 RAW Storage (TB) Usable Space Estimate (%) 9 73% 73% Usable Storage (TB) Table 2: FlexPod Private Cloud Solution Specifications Since both options offer the same hardware configuration, the following scaled price-toperformance and VM performance metrics have been calculated and presented. Performance Metrics: Price-per-VM as a key performance metric that shows the price for hosting a single standard VM across each private cloud solution. A lower value for a solution indicates that, at the same available budget, a customer can set up a much denser environment hosting larger number of VM workloads compared to rest of the options. Price-per-system core as a measure of system performance at a given price. More cores provide capacity for more concurrent compute tasks. Lower price indicates better system performance at a given price. Price-per-system memory as a second measure of system performance. Since memory is able to store information in a quickly-accessible place, more memory means more information can be stored without having to write to a disk. Again, lower price indicates better system performance at a given price. Price-per-usable storage space as a storage value approximation that can help provide more comparison details when the amount of usable space is not the same across all vendor appliances. Lower price for a solution indicates availability of more space for VM workloads compared to rest of the options, at the same price point. 7 Includes compute and management nodes. 8 Includes storage from storage nodes / racks only. Does not count the disk space available within system nodes. 9 Discounted for RAID and fault tolerance. NetApp uses RAID6-DP. 6

10 Price per VM For calculating the price-per-vm, we started off by defining the following VM profiles based on the private cloud capacity planning guide by NetApp. ix A blended profile based on the expected workload mix is used as a standard for the metric calculations. Form Factor CPU RAM (GB) Disk Size (TB) Storage IOPS Workload Mix Small % Medium % Large % Standard % Table 3: Standard VM Profile Most datacenter virtual environments are oversubscribed and stacked, meaning the number of VMs multiplied by the available CPU cores is greater than the total CPU GHz purchased. This is required to make sure that the datacenter resources are not underutilized. There are varying arguments on what should be considered an acceptable oversubscription factor; NetApp estimates 8:1 as a maximum acceptable oversubscription / fan-out ratio for VM workloads without a visible loss in performance. ix Most private cloud configurations now support thin provisioning, which allows for a memory oversubscription. A 2:1 oversubscription ratio was considered. Finally, we assumed a storage efficiency factor of 50% or 1.5:1 based on the NetApp planning guide. ix Oversubscription Constants CPU CPU fan-out ratio 8:1 Memory oversubscription 2:1 Storage efficiency 1.5:1 Table 4: Virtual Machine Oversubscription Constants Supported VM Calculations: The total number of supported VMs was limited either by total capacity cores, memory, or usable storage available for hosting the standard VM. This was calculated based on the total resources available for each option and the standard VM profile above. Specifications FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere Capacity Cores 10 Capacity RAM (GB) 10 Usable Storage (TB) Supported Standard VMs 224 2, , Table 5: Supported VM Calculations 10 The private cloud solutions use a portion of their capacity nodes on the cluster as management servers. These are independent of the Cisco USC Manager nodes. For both configuration options, we assume a minimum of two nodes out of the 16 system nodes are reserved for service management functions. 7

11 As seen in Figure 2, the FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud has a lower price-per-vm metric. Private Cloud Solution FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud Supported VMs 5Yr NPV of Costs* 557 $1,324,000 $4,000 $3,000 $2,000 $1,000 $2,380 $3,370 FlexPod with VMware vsphere 557 $1,878,000 $- Price per Standard VM Microsoft VMWare * Calculated based on list prices over 5 years. Negotiated prices after vendor discounts will likely be lower. Price per System Core Processors and cores provide the engines for running the VM workloads and associated management functionality. Dedicated management nodes ensure robust systems and private cloud management capabilities. Figure 2: Price per VM Comparison for Each Solution (Costs in U.S. dollars) With more cores virtual machines run more efficiently; meaning they can handle larger workloads, while still providing high performance results. More is better, but with reference architectures that can scale by adding more nodes, chassis, or racks, even more important is the price per system core. Note that the number of cores is not directly correlated with the price some licenses are not required for every core, but price-per-system core provides a view into the performance of each solution as a factor of total costs. When viewed in relation to the price for the FlexPod solution, the Microsoft private cloud option was the least expensive at U.S. $5,170 per core. The VMware option was more expensive at U.S. $7,340 per system core. Private Cloud Solution FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud System Cores 5Yr NPV of Costs* 256 $1,324,000 $8,000 $6,000 $4,000 $2,000 $5,170 $7,340 FlexPod with VMware vsphere 256 $1,878,000 $- Price per System Core Microsoft VMWare * Calculated based on list prices over 5 years. Negotiated prices after vendor discounts will likely be lower. Price per System Memory Like cores, the amount of memory included in the private cloud solution is a significant indicator of potential performance. Large amounts of memory allow for faster operation of workloads by keeping more information to be processed in memory, instead of having to make read/write calls to the hard drive. Memory is much more expensive than disk drives (for equal units of storage), so in addition to the storage metric considered below, it is important to include price-per-memory ratio comparison as well. As seen in Figure 3: Price per System Core Comparison for Each Solution (Costs in U.S. dollars) 8

12 Figure 4, the FlexPod solution with Microsoft Private Cloud fared better than the competition. Private Cloud Solution FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud System Memory (GB) 5Yr NPV of Costs* 3,968 $1,324,000 $600 $400 $200 $330 $470 FlexPod with VMware vsphere 3,968 $1,878,000 $- Price per System Memory Microsoft VMWare * Calculated based on list prices over 5 years. Negotiated prices after vendor discounts will likely be lower. Price per Usable Storage Usable storage for the private cloud is included to provide perspective of total storage provided for VM workloads after discounting for RAID and fault tolerance. For each solution, we selected the recommended and maximum supported disk size as per the architecture guidance. On the price-per-usable storage metric, the FlexPod solution with Microsoft Private Cloud once again led the pack. Figure 4: Price per System Memory (GB) Comparison for Each Solution (Costs in U.S. dollars) Private Cloud Solution FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud Usable Storage (TB) 5Yr NPV of Costs* 42 $1,324,000 $60,000 $40,000 $20,000 $31,520 $44,710 FlexPod with VMware vsphere 42 $1,878,000 $- Price per Usable Storage Microsoft VMWare * Calculated based on list prices over 5 years. Negotiated prices after vendor discounts will likely be lower. Figure 5: Price per Usable Storage (TB) Comparison for Each Solution (Costs in U.S. dollars) CONCLUSION The FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud not only provides a competitively priced solution compared to the VMware option, it also offers the best price-toperformance on key metrics such as Price-per-VM and price-per- system core, memory, and usable storage. This enables customers to run intensive and mixed workloads at a lower cost compared to the competition. In addition to the superior price-to-performance economics, the Microsoft private cloud based solution comes ready with all the required tools needed by organizations to easily integrate and expand their private clouds to a public cloud / hybrid cloud scenario. With Microsoft System Center 2012R2, the IT departments can leverage their existing 9

13 investments in building out and managing from one place any workload that is distributed across their physical, virtual, and private or public clouds. Finally, with Windows Azure Pack, organizations can build out rich, self-service, and multi-tenant public-cloud consistent experiences within their private cloud deployment, further allowing for flexibility and agility in meeting their business needs. A comparison of similar capabilities could not be made as no equivalent solution is available on a VMware based FlexPod datacenter. CASE STUDIES AND EVIDENCE Please find some customer proof points in support of the FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud: Date Description Type Link 2/25/2015 ING DIRECT s Bank in a Box Private Cloud Innovation Enables Rapid Provisioning and Accelerates Time to Market. 1/30/2015 Robust and Agile Private Cloud Enables IT-as-a-Service for International Insurance Firm, Allianz Australia. 1/15/2015 Airplane Manufacturer, Aerolia, Switches to Microsoft Cloud to Dynamically Expand Server Capacity. 8/7/2014 ahd Selected FlexPod with Microsoft Cloud OS for Rapidly Growing Cloud Business with ahd Managed Services. 3/20/2014 SMD Builds a Big Data Cloud on FlexPod to Drive New Vehicle Management Product Auto /19/2013 Car manufacturer, Toyota Tsusho Africa, Powers Business Vision with Microsoft Private Cloud Solution on FlexPod Architecture. 6/20/2013 King County Creates Shared Infrastructure on FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud and Saves $700,000 Annually. Video Document Document Document Document Document Document https://youtu.be/ntv7whv 5uvo

14 APPENDIX A: Methodology In a study commissioned by Microsoft, FlexPod Datacenter reference architectures for two leading virtualization and management software stack vendors have been reviewed, summarized, and compared, based on publicly-available price and specification information. The two vendors compared in this study were: Microsoft VMware Similar two chassis, 16 blade configurations were analyzed to ensure standard comparisons across the reference architectures for both Microsoft and VMware private clouds. Summary metrics and total price were compared. Price-per-VM is used as a price/value approximation that can help provide more accurate comparison details across multiple private cloud offerings. Comparisons are based on the list price and publicly available cost and specification metrics. In addition to the hardware and software price, which is only part of the cost considerations, the analysis included installation, maintenance and support costs. Each discussion with vendors and their customer discount situation will be different, and more information (and customization) is likely available from the vendors. Individual results may thus be different than the ones listed here. Customer should carefully evaluate deployment, migration, and on-going management costs specific to their solution requirements before making a decision. B: About Value Prism Consulting Value Prism Consulting is a valuation and management consulting firm that provides services to a broad range of clients worldwide. Our Management Consulting Practice assists clients with business case development and decision support analysis. Our solutions measure the results of various options related to business process improvement, capital and major budget-spending decisions, including infrastructure upgrades, and the value of new product introductions. Visit for more information. 11

15 C: Converged Infrastructure System Specifications FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud VMware vsphere 5.5 Notes Product: Reference Architecture: FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud NVA-0010 (May 2014) FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere 5.5 CVD esxi55u1 (August 2014) Hypervisor: Microsoft Hyper-V VMware vsphere 5.5 Management: System Center 2012R2, Windows Azure Pack VMware vcenter, VMware vrealize Suite Chassis: 2 2 Cisco UCS 5108 server chassis Capacity Nodes: Cisco UCS B200-M3 blades Processors: Dual, 8 core Intel E v2 per blade Cores: Memory (GB): 2,688 2,688 96GB per processor Clock Speed (GHz): Management Nodes: 2 2 Cisco UCS B200-M3 blades (reserved for management functions) Processors: 4 4 Dual, 8 core Intel E v2 per blade Cores: Memory (GB): GB per processor Clock Speed (GHz): UCS Manager Nodes: 2 2 Cisco UCS C220-M3 Storage Nodes: 2 2 NetApp FAS3250 Storage Controller Storage Units: 2 2 NetApp DS2246 Disk Shelves with 24 disk capacity Number of HDs: HDD Size (TB): RAW Storage (TB): Total raw hard disk capacity Usable space 73% 73% RAID6-DP with Stripe; Discounted for parity and spares Usable Storage (TB): Total usable storage for VM workloads 12

16 D: Sources i NetApp. (2014, May). FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud; NVA-0010; Version ii Cisco. (2014, August 11). FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vsphere 5.5; Update 1. iii Cisco. (Accessed 2015, January 8). Cisco Build and Price tool. iv Arrow Enterprise Computing. (Accessed 2015, January 8). NetApp Price List (list price considered). v VMware. (Accessed 2015, January 12). VMware vsphere Pricing. vi VMware. (Accessed 2015, January 12). VMware vcenter Pricing. vii CloudComputing.info. (2014, August 25). VMware Launches VMware vrealize Suite. viii Cisco. (Accessed 2015, January 8). Cisco Global Price List September ix NetApp. (2014, September). NetApp Private Cloud Capacity Planning Guide. 13

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