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Why a free private cloud with VMware vCloud may not be worth the money

IT shops considering a private cloud can upgrade to VMware's vCloud suite for free, but consider these caveats before you sign the deal.

If you're considering building a private cloud, why not do it for free? For a limited time, VMware will waive the $1650 per socket price tag when upgrading from vSphere Enterprise Plus to vCloud Suite Standard. But the deal isn't without some caveats.

At VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, VMware vCloud Suite debuted in Standard, Advanced and Enterprise editions. All three editions are based on vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director and the Standard edition of vCloud Networking and Security, which includes firewall, VPN, DHCP, NAT and other network functions. You'll need these basic features to build a private cloud with VMware tools.

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Don't get too excited, though. Free does not mean completely free. You'll need to pay for the support renewal, although VMware won't charge for the difference in support costs between vSphere Enterprise Plus and the vCloud Suite Standard at the time of upgrade. When the time comes to renew the support contract, be prepared to pay for support based on VMware's vCloud Suite Standard.

To qualify for the free upgrade, you must have owned the vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses before August 27, 2012. You also must be current on your support contract for the licenses. VMware is offering other upgrade promotions as well; in these upgrades the additional cost of support is required when licenses are upgraded.

There's one more caveat. The suite is not just a purchasing bundle. Only one vCloud license key is generated for use with all components of the suite when you order a license. They cannot be broken apart to support different infrastructures. In addition, only the vSphere component can be downgraded to an older version. If you're using a vCloud Suite license, all components -- except vSphere -- must be at the purchased version (e.g., VMware vCloud Director 5.1).

So, should every company with vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses take advantage of the free upgrade and build a private cloud? No. The increased support costs are not insignificant, so only upgrade licenses if there is real value now or in the future for your IT shop in the vCloud Director product.

Between now and December 15, 2012, evaluate your cloud computing strategy and determine if you want to move to a private cloud. Make sure the answer is yes before you take advantage of the promotional pricing for vCloud Director.

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