One of the biggest beefs I’ve had with VMware over the last few years, and I apologize to everyone to whom I’ve already ranted about this to, is that they don’t have program that is like Microsoft’s TechNet.
What’s so great about TechNet, you might ask?
With the TechNet subscription you get access to everything that Microsoft offers – with full retail keys. This isn’t some time bombed trial, this is the real deal. You get access to all of their software from the distant past right up through early release betas of their software – like the upcoming Windows 8 and Server 2012. This is essential for long term test VMs and testing software with what can be complicated, involving installs like Active Directory and Exchange, for example. Also, you get access to the creme of their productivity software crop like Project and Visio. Best of all its “only” $200 to start and $150 to renew. If that sounds expensive, remember that a single Server 2008 R2 license can run you $700 alone, and the productivity software can also run hundreds of dollars.
Why might Microsoft sell this subscription if they could get so much more money for each project by forcing you to buy real licenses for real products? It’s pretty simple, really. As individuals, we are not going to buy this software at these prices, and would then turn to free or cheaper alternatives. Microsoft must know that TechNet sub is something a very technical person is going to buy – like IT Professionals. What IT Professionals use at home directly influences what they use at work – and business purchases are Microsoft’s bread and butter, they’ll tell you this to your face no matter how much it seems like they are about conquering the home PC. Having your home PCs run Windows and Office is just another way to keep business running what their employees know and can be efficient with.
Back to the VMware Technology Network Subscription (VMTN). They used to have a similar program that let you use full versions of their software in your home and labs and many attribute this program with the rapid adoption of VMware in the Enterprise space – since you could play with it on the cheap and gain confidence in it, then it made sense to champion it within your organization. VMware discontinued it about five years ago (or so…) when they made clear that Windows GSX Server (VMware Server) and VMware player were free products that could be used. GSX has totally gone the way of the dinosaur now, and while VMware player is immensely useful in some tasks, it doesn’t allow you to play with the Enterprise features that you might actually want from VMware.
VMware does offer a free version of their bare metal hypervisor, ESXi. The problem? This Hypervisor also does not allow you to experiment/implement any of the Enterprise features that differentiate VMware from the rest – and it doesn’t even allow for any scripting automation, another of VMware’s strengths. This very much limits the usefulness of the platform. It should be noted that you can get sixty day trials of just about everything VMware offers easily online, but the issue there is that the “big” offerings like SRM and VDI are so intricate in their setup that it can take easily longer than sixty days to get them fully off the ground if you are just doing it in your free time. You also have to completely scrap the entire setup, from ESXi to vCenter to these addons as they are all tied to that same sixty day time frame. Want to do it again? You need a new email address to sign up for the trial again!
The elephant in the room is this – Microsoft is very serious about taking VMware’s ball and going home with it. Virtualization was the #1 focus of Server 2008 R2 SP1 and it appears that Server 2012 will continue the trend. IT Professionals that are using TechNet will have easy access to using Hyper-V in all of its glory (and 2012 is looking much easier/sweeter than 2008 R2 SP1) already.
Even with my VCP and years of VMware experience along with a fairly sizable investment in specialized RAID hardware for native disk redundancy in my home lab, Server 2012 looks mighty attractive for my home platform. It doesn’t need to be this way, VMware.
Agree? Raise your voice. VMware is missing a big opportunity here and anyone invested in VMware from a technical expertise level or from a shareholder level knows the dangers of competing with Microsoft (just ask Novell or the other companies they have left bloodied in their wake.) Do the right thing, VMware. Let me pay you a little money so I can recommend your products to those with the big checkbooks.