Vmware features vs the cost?

So, today I had the pleasure of setting in a meeting with VMware as they talked about the future road map for vSphere. A lot of good stuff is coming and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Now this is not a post about the technical details and features of the product or about the cost but rather a statement that was made by an associate or co worker in and out of this meeting.

This co worker and his team where the ones who really looked into Microsoft HyperV in the past, with a Microsoft product specialist, and wanted to push it as a standard through out the company as the VMware killer. Now, myself and others on my team had already deployed ESX before there was a HyperV and was continuing to do so within the data-center and at remote sites. VMware was also the virtualization platform we have been managing for years with relative ease since ESX 2.x. So, when we heard about this there was some what of an up roar of concern as to why and the answer was cost. This co worker actually told me that he hated Vmware because of their higher licensing costs. Never mind the fact that the product has been in production for years with no major complaints and provided a higher level of service for the company.

Lets forward back to this meeting where the same co worker made a statement like “we think technical and not about cost”. The word “we” in this statement was directed at me and the engineers in the room since he was a manager. There was also a comment directed to the VMware engineer about “how was VMware working on providing low cost solutions to the customer?”. With a statement like this I could see how out of touch he was in regards to the VMware product line. And then he compared ESX to HyperV like they were both the same, which is so far from the truth in my opinion. They are more like an apple and an orange in comparison and while these are both fruit they are not the same.

So tech or features vs cost?. Some people look at the cost of a solution as the first determining factor for buying a product then make it fit the requirements of the business or force the business to do without one or more of their requirements without ever letting them know that there was another option that could meet all the requirements but may cost a bit more. The fear here is that the business will get up front sticker shock and not approve the solution. The downside for IT thought is that while they may approve the solution it may not meet all the requirements the users were expecting to get. It may not be easily deployed or managed, have no high availability, or be scalable.

Some people look at the requirements of the business first, find the best solution by comparison, then present the cost of that solution to the business and outline why the solution is worth the cost. And you have to sell it with the facts. If they don’t want to pay the price then they must lower their requirements. This way everything is out in the open and if the business can live with less, then that’s what they will get.

It’s all a balancing act for sure but shouldn’t we, IT as a whole, be putting the business requirements first before looking  at the cost? Don’t get me wrong cost is very important but being cheap for the sake of being cheap usually ends to adding more cost in the long run. I have seen many times someone put in the cheapest solution then have to either remove and replace the solution within a year or two because it did not work or scale for the business need or because the solution was nightmare to manage and maintain. In the long run it could cost more money for the company then if the right solution would have been used in the first place.