There are many ways to compare alternatives, but for simplicity, things often come down to cost. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to separate the true comparisons from creative marketing — let’s take a look at some key factors that can help sort the apples from the oranges.
Case Study: The Very Expensive Laptop
Imagine you are looking to buy a new laptop, equipped with various accessories and software. Part of the decision is to select an appropriate office suite to include in the configuration:
There are a number of office suite options: the less capable choice adds $80 to the price, and the one you really need to do your work adds $230 — almost three times the cost. Outrageous!
Laptop with Professional Suite Costs Three Times More!
That’s the headline anyway. Obviously, it’s far from true because it only focuses on one component and misses out on the big picture.
From laptops to cars to private clouds — cost comparisons that focus on just one portion of a solution don’t make much sense.
Compare Entire Solutions
The truth is, comparing just one component of a solution is arbitrary and meaningless. To truly compare two alternatives, one must look at the complete solution.
In the case of our laptop, it turns out that the professional configuration costs about 17 percent more than the one that doesn’t meet all requirements. A far cry from the three times hyperbole. Not only that — it has capabilities the cheaper alternative cannot match, a difficult aspect to quantify when performing a pure cost comparison.
Now we’ve seen how cost comparisons can easily be manipulated by focusing on just one aspect of a complete solution. Are there any real-world examples of an out-of-context cost comparison without regard for the big picture? Yes…
Allow me to introduce the Microsoft Virtualization Cost Comparison Calculator:
By using the exact same trick to artificially compare the cost of VMware vSphere to a handful of System Center products, the Microsoft Virtualization team has settled on a marketing message: VMware costs N times more than Hyper-V.
Three Times More? Five Times More?
Would a reasonable person choose to spend over three times more for something if a suitable alternative is available? No! Just as a vSphere solution is not multiple times the cost of Hyper-V, neither is Hyper-V a suitable replacement for the industry leading virtualization platform.
For a true cost comparison, with line-by-line transparency, check out the VMware Cost Per Application Calculator and see for yourself how the complete solutions compare.