Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN



  • Doing some cost comparisons because, well they are always fun and good info. Looking at the "starter hyperconvergence" serious HA clusters from Scale and Vmware.

    Comparing any two solutions is always difficult, there are so many factors that are different that we can always get lost in the minutia of trying to determine the value of different features, functions or the availability of buying more bells and whistles. There is no simple way to compare any two things that have a variety of different factors. But we will try to do so here at a high enough level to make the comparison meaningful and useful.

    In this example I am going to look at two popular hyperconverged systems, a three node Scale HC3 cluster and a three node VMware + VSAN cluster. I'll compare on as close of hardware as possible, same CPUs, chassis, drives, features, etc. Since the same networking components are needed for either case, we can ignore that in our comparison, but be aware that there are costs not included here because they don't matter for the comparison. This is a comparative, not a TCO generator.

    Both systems here assume 10GigE networking.



  • First the Scale cluster. This will be a three node, HC3 H1150D configuration with 2x Intel Xen E5-2620v4 per node, 128GB per node, 12TB of NL-SAS and 1.9TB of SSD on each node. Each node lists at $19,139.

    Acquisition Cost: $57,417
    Five Year Support: $25,838

    Total Lifespan Tost: $82,857



  • For VMware and VSAN we will use the Dell R430 with 128GB per node, the same CPUs as above, 3x 4TB SATA drives and 1.9TB of SSD. Each node, just for the hardware, comes out to a list of $13,382 but with a real world discount bringing it down, at this time, to just $8,890 per node.

    In addition to hardware, we need to license VMware vSphere Essentials Plus which is $5,619 for the entire cluster plus we need to license VSAN per CPU which is $2,500 by six or $15,000.

    Acquisition Cost: $47,289
    Dell Support Cost: $7,383 ($2,461 per node)
    VMware vSphere Support Cost: $3,772 ($943 for each additional year after the first)
    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Total Cost: $83,884



  • Three dual CPU nodes is a sweet spot for VMware due to the flat rate pricing of their Essentials and Essentials Plus licensing giving VMware a significant boost at this size. The $10K initial purchase advantage is significant. It is immediately offset by the support cost over a five year span, however, and the two solutions are essentially identical in cost to purchase.

    Even at purchase time, however, there are significant differences in installation. Installing the VMware, VSAN and Dell solution requires a bit of knowledge about VMware and VSAN is not well known. The installation will, at a minimum, require a standard installation procedure if this is being purchased by a shop that has existing VMware and VSAN experience. In a situation where that experience does not exist in house, this will either need to be learned or outside consulting will be needed. Installation of a cluster of this nature would rarely be under $2,000 and could be much more depending on many factors.

    Comparing complexity is, of course, very difficult to do. The Scale installation should be manageable by a non-technical team. Installation by bench resources or by a "technically minded" non-IT department person is the intended design. Normal resources like helpdesk or other IT functions can do the setup, there are no special skills required. Installing VMware and VSAN is far from the most daunting task in IT, but it is often a one time, rather technical one that should have an experienced support person overseeing to ensure that things are done properly.

    On going use of the system is also a major factor that is difficult to quantify but key to consider as this is the real ROI consideration. Scale's approach relies on total support from the singular vendor and requires no internal IT to maintain. Better to have IT, of course, by the helpdesk can handle all of the maintenance tasks since it only involves engaging the vendor. For the VMware, VSAN and Dell stack you have two vendors to maintain and the maintenance of the system, while supported by the vendors, requires internal resources to be trained, competent and confident. This means no only having those skills at acquisition time, but maintaining them throughout the life of the platform. Whether internal staff or service provider staff, it is a non-trivial cost that is ongoing and VMware, and especially VSAN, skill sets are very much in demand meaning that staff is either a cost premium or in grave danger of being poached quickly adding even more cost, in most cases. The additional skills, time, maintenance tasks and monitoring needed are significant costs that each business needs to consider and estimate but, over a five year life span of a cluster, easily represent a cost that dwarfs initial purchase costs.



  • I'm interested as well. But I would also like to see Nutanix and Simplivity in there because Scale uses KVM... I'd like to see the comparisons with Hyper-V, VMWare, and VSAN in other HCI's rather than by themselves or custom built if you know what I mean. Or perhaps that's for a different thread. Either way, still interesting.



  • @Tim_G said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    I'm interested as well. But I would also like to see Nutanix and Simplivity in there because Scale uses KVM... I'd like to see the comparisons with Hyper-V, VMWare, and VSAN in other HCI's rather than by themselves or custom built if you know what I mean. Or perhaps that's for a different thread. Either way, still interesting.

    You need to add StarWinds HCI also.



  • @Tim_G said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    I'm interested as well. But I would also like to see Nutanix and Simplivity in there because Scale uses KVM... I'd like to see the comparisons with Hyper-V, VMWare, and VSAN in other HCI's rather than by themselves or custom built if you know what I mean. Or perhaps that's for a different thread. Either way, still interesting.

    Some products, like Simplivity, get super hard to compare because there is nothing even sort of like similar hardware. We'd be making huge guesses for comparison. The release of the 1150D nodes makes for a really useful comparison between the two products.



  • Updated with support costs.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Wow - why even sell VSAN at that point - why don't they just do subscription and get over with it - wow that seems expensive. Is this in line with support contracts for other SAN products? I know it's hard to judge that because this is based on CPU (luckily not cores) where I'm assuming typical SAN support is more based upon capacity.



  • @Dashrender said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Wow - why even sell VSAN at that point - why don't they just do subscription and get over with it - wow that seems expensive. Is this in line with support contracts for other SAN products? I know it's hard to judge that because this is based on CPU (luckily not cores) where I'm assuming typical SAN support is more based upon capacity.

    This is SO much cheaper. If you look at the cost of a lesser SAN that isn't as flexible, or as safe as VSAN, you'll see that the initial cost AND the support both cost more.



  • Storage support cost is where nearly all cost of vendor support is. It costs vendors many times as much to support storage as it does CPUs or RAM.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    @Dashrender said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Wow - why even sell VSAN at that point - why don't they just do subscription and get over with it - wow that seems expensive. Is this in line with support contracts for other SAN products? I know it's hard to judge that because this is based on CPU (luckily not cores) where I'm assuming typical SAN support is more based upon capacity.

    This is SO much cheaper. If you look at the cost of a lesser SAN that isn't as flexible, or as safe as VSAN, you'll see that the initial cost AND the support both cost more.

    Well sure, it would almost have to be... the VSAN solution includes no hardware.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    Storage support cost is where nearly all cost of vendor support is. It costs vendors many times as much to support storage as it does CPUs or RAM.

    ROFLOL this is laughably obvious when you think about it.
    😛



  • Wouldn't be hard to add StoreVirtual VSA to this compare - if you're interested, I can help. Licensing is pretty easy: 3 X 4TB bundle is $3,000 US List and the 10TB license is $3500 US List. Both of these include support and assume bring your own hardware.

    If you're inclined to include it and need more information, drop me an email with what you need. With lots of people starting to take time off, might take me longer than normal but happy to help.



  • @HPEStorageGuy said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    Wouldn't be hard to add StoreVirtual VSA to this compare - if you're interested, I can help. Licensing is pretty easy: 3 X 4TB bundle is $3,000 US List and the 10TB license is $3500 US List. Both of these include support and assume bring your own hardware.

    Thanks, that would definitely good to add. You say it includes support... does that include five years of support? That's what this matrix is based off of (a number I was able to get from both vendors that is pretty reasonable for a time frame.)



  • @scottalanmiller I gave you 3 years. I'll have to check on what 5 years costs. Will be later today - winter has hit and I'm out getting snow tires at Costco. This could take 3 years!


  • Vendor

    @scottalanmiller - adding Simplivity and Nutanix to the mix might be interesting, but you would additionally have to factor in the cpu/ram resources being consumed by their VSA's (SAN being implemented as virtual machines with protocol overhead) which would require the use of higher end procs and larger RAM footprints to be able to run the same number of VM's at the same performance level as either Scale or VMWare VSAN. Seems to me the density implications would wind up having a direct impact on the bottom line prices of any of the VSA based offerings when comparing to the platforms that don't need one.



  • @HPEStorageGuy said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    @scottalanmiller I gave you 3 years. I'll have to check on what 5 years costs. Will be later today - winter has hit and I'm out getting snow tires at Costco. This could take 3 years!

    Good luck!



  • @scottalanmiller The 5 year license includes 5 years of support. The 10TB 5 year LTU is $5835 US list.


  • Vendor

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Wow - why even sell VSAN at that point - why don't they just do subscription and get over with it - wow that seems expensive. Is this in line with support contracts for other SAN products? I know it's hard to judge that because this is based on CPU (luckily not cores) where I'm assuming typical SAN support is more based upon capacity.

    Because that's not what vSAN costs for a 3 node cluster. The capital cost is 15K List for a 3 node cluster. I'm guessing he's bundling the first 3 years of support in or something and putting zero discounting on the cost.

    This cost study is also using 4TB SATA drives which vSAN doesn't certify. Also the only 1.9TB drive I"m familiar with that Dell sells (this could have changed) is a PM863 that gets awful write latency consistency and is only certified for capacity usage not write cache. Beyond that you would be better served by 2 smaller write intensive SSD's. This cost study ignores the HCL, the design and sizing guide.



  • @John-Nicholson said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    @Dashrender said:

    @scottalanmiller said in Cost Study: 3 Node Scale vs. 3 Node VMware VSAN:

    VMware VSAN Support Cost: $25,440 ($1060 per CPU for each year after the first)

    Wow - why even sell VSAN at that point - why don't they just do subscription and get over with it - wow that seems expensive. Is this in line with support contracts for other SAN products? I know it's hard to judge that because this is based on CPU (luckily not cores) where I'm assuming typical SAN support is more based upon capacity.

    Because that's not what vSAN costs for a 3 node cluster. The capital cost is 15K List for a 3 node cluster. I'm guessing he's bundling the first 3 years of support in or something and putting zero discounting on the cost.

    This cost study is also using 4TB SATA drives which vSAN doesn't certify. Also the only 1.9TB drive I"m familiar with that Dell sells (this could have changed) is a PM863 that gets awful write latency consistency and is only certified for capacity usage not write cache. Beyond that you would be better served by 2 smaller write intensive SSD's. This cost study ignores the HCL, the design and sizing guide.

    Because there is no good way to an apples to apples comparison. Yes the cost of both has the support for the term built in. And the need for higher cost, lower density drives for vSAN would not be favourable to the vSAN solution - so while it could follow the HCL, it would look as if I was attempting to skew the numbers to make the vSAN look bad. Most importantly, this gives the best cost analysis advantage to the vSAN, even at the cost of not being officially on the HCL. If you want HCL'd hardware exclusively, then the cost is higher. As this is only a cost, not a design, comparison I felt that that was the more important attribute. Should have been noted, though.