VMware: Win7 can cost more than twice as much on PCs as on virtual desktops

VMware: Win7 can cost more than twice as much on PCs as on virtual desktops

San Francisco -- VMware says enterprises migrating to Microsoft Windows 7 can save a bundle by using virtual-desktop infrastructure technology rather than standalone PCs.

VMware group marketing manager Ridwan Hug, speaking at last week's VMworld conference in San Francisco, cited a study that the company asked IDC to do based on interviews with VMware customers that had been using the Horizon View VDI product for at least one year with Windows 7. The average annual cost per user for a VMware VDI deployment was about $340, including hardware, configuration, helpdesk and overall IT support. The cost of enterprise desktop management without VDI was about $960 per user per year, according to VMware.

[RELATED:Citrix edges VMware, Microsoft in VDI face-off

"VDI is not cheap but it's cheap when compared to physical desktops," Hug said. But in making the argument for VMware Horizon View, he acknowledged the hardest part of coming up with the cost estimate involves Microsoft's licensing of Windows 7 under its Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) plan.

"The most confusing piece is the Microsoft VDA license," Hug said. "I've read it 13 times and each time I see a new meaning." He said VDA is roughly $100 per user but several variables come into play, including whether you are using your primary device to access your VDA, or whether it's a smartphone or tablet, which can add an extra $75 per user, he said. The Horizon View license can range between $150 to $250 per user, averaging $175 per user. The Microsoft VDA license could end up being $100 per user annually or more or even zero. "This is a grey area for our customers," said Hug.

Hug acknowledged that estimating total cost-of-ownership of a VDI deployment is not simple when you take into account how much server and storage and bandwidth may be needed. Based on the study VMware did with IDC, storage costs, including configuration, are reckoned to be about $75 per virtual machine. VMware also sought to factor in energy consumption and power costs, which VMware claims its VDI could save as much as $50 on per endpoint on an annual basis.

VMware's total-cost-of-ownership estimate for deploying VDI to run Windows 7 over four years averaged out to be $2,850 in comparison to total cost of ownership of $4,840 over four years for physical enterprise desktops based on Windows 7. "Roughly 50% savings can be achieved by migrating Windows 7 through View," he concluded.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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