We announced this week that our own virtualization product, Microsoft Hyper-V, is now capable of scaling to an entirely new level. Hyper-V now supports 24 logical processors to take advantage of the latest processors (six core). In addition, the maximum number of virtual machines running on a Hyper-V installation has been raised from 128 to 192!!! That is a LOT of virtual machines.
You can download this update here.
In my presentations, I discuss the virtualization options available and the licensing benefits of each. Using this new math, let's take a look at the licensing benefits of using Hyper-V as your virtualization platform.
Based on the "standard" pricing page, the cost for Windows Server 2008 Datacenter edition is $2,999 per processor. (Datacenter is licensed on a per-processor model. (NOTE: This is physical processors, not logical cores.)) Windows Server 2008 Standard edition is $999. (This represents the US pricing available publicly at the time of this post. Prices may vary.)
Assuming a machine with 4 physical processors and Datacenter, that brings the total cost to $11,996. Let's break that down:
5 Virtual Machines
Physical machine running Hyper-V and hosting all virtual machines: 1 license
5 Virtual machines running on Hyper-V
Total of 6 machines at a cost of $1999 per license.
10 Virtual Machines
10 Virtual machines running on Hyper-V
Total of 11 machines at a cost of $1090 per license. At this point, you can see you've gotten each license down to nearly the cost of Standard edition.
20 Virtual Machines
20 Virtual machines running on Hyper-V
Total of 21 machines at a cost of $571 per license. At this point, you've cut the cost of Windows Server by nearly 50%!!! (versus licensing physical servers using the standard edition of Windows Server)
You can see that there is a definite "get-ahead" point when planning out your virtualization scenario. Let's move this all the way out to the limit -- 192 virtual machines:
The cost breaks down to $62 per Windows Server license.
Is it realistic to consider the option of virtualizing 192 machines on current hardware? I would say, "it depends." In most cases, probably not, as you'd be running 8 virtual machines per logical processor. So, if those servers were doing a lot of processing, the experience may not be what you would hope for. But let's go back to the "21 machines" model. In this case, you be running less than one machine per logical processor!
When I talk about virtualization during my presentation, I talk about the concept being a mind-set shift from current thinking. You can see why. There's a lot to think about when planning out a virtual environment. But, as you can see from this math, the thought put into this can definitely be worthwhile!