In this article you will be introduced to the free VM-to-Cloud Calculator utility from SolarWinds. With this tool you can gather an inventory of your virtual machine infrastructure and perform cost-comparisons for three major cloud VM hosting solutions.

Does your organization employ a virtual machine (VM) infrastructure for server and/or desktop systems? Are you considering migrating some or all of these VMs to a cloud-based hosting infrastructure?

Cloud Calculator - VM cloud pricing details

VM cloud pricing details

The research that is involved in this process is pretty staggering, to be sure. SolarWinds, has addressed this situation in an elegant and cost-effective (free!) manner: SolarWinds VM-to-Cloud Calculator.

This free Windows utility enables us to automatically inventory our VMware-based virtualization infrastructure and perform cost comparisons among three leading cloud hosting providers:

Let's have a closer look at what this tool can do for you.

Creating a VM inventory ^

You can download the VM-to-Cloud Calculator tool simply by registering a new SolarWinds account.

After you've downloaded and installed the VM-to-Cloud Calculator (the .MSI installation package weighs in at less than 5 MB), start the app and enter your host credentials. These credentials consist of the following:

  • IP address or hostname of your VM server
  • Username
  • Password

This screen is shown in the following screenshot.

Cloud Calculator -Entering your VMware credentials

Entering your VMware credentials

It is very important to note that the previously mentioned "VM server" must be an instance of one of the following virtualization server technologies:

Therefore, at least as of this writing in November 2011, the VM-to-Cloud Calculator is not compatible with virtualization servers such as Microsoft Hyper-V Server or Citrix XenServer.

Once you verify connectivity to your target VMware server, go ahead and let the application run the inventory for you. Sample results from a VM inventory scan are shown in the following image:

Cloud Calculator - VM inventory report with cost information

VM inventory report with cost information

NOTE: In order to show you appreciable real-world data with this tool, some of the screenshots in this piece are borrowed from SolarWinds product documentation.

The VM inventorying piece alone justifies the VM-to-Cloud Calculator's utility, in my opinion. The report, which is exportable to various file formats including Excel, Adobe PDF, and CSV, can definitely save you quite a bit of time in undertaking manual analysis.

Performing Price Comparisons

The centerpiece of the SolarWinds VM-to-Cloud Calculator is its automatically generated cloud hosting price comparison matrix. A sample report is shown in the following image:

Cloud Calculator - VM cloud pricing details

VM cloud pricing details

As you can see, the VM Cloud Pricing Details report gives you at-a-glance price comparisons among the Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, and Rackspace hosts on a VM-by-VM basis. And yes, you can export this report data as well.

You might be wondering how current the calculator's pricing data is, and how it applies to a person depending upon where he or she lives in the world.

We can click the Settings tab to configure calculation/pricing metadata, such as:

  • Your preferred currency units
  • Disk size threshold to differentiate "true" VMs from storage instances
  • The data refresh ("calculation") period
  • Data polling during application runtime

The Settings dialog is shown in the following screen image.

Cloud Calculator - VM-to-Cloud Calculator Settings page

VM-to-Cloud Calculator Settings page

Conclusion ^

The SolarWinds VM-to-Cloud Calculator is a valuable tool for Windows systems administrators who currently leverage locally hosted VMware virtual machines and want to increase their availability by migrating them to a cloud service provider. I will leave you with a tip: SolarWinds offers an enterprise virtualization solution called SolarWinds Virtualization Manager; this software won the Best of VMworld 2011 Gold Award in Virtualization Management (a high honor, indeed). You can download a trial version if you’d like.

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