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Is your car radio free? Of course not… Neither is your management software

Guest blog by Brad Kirby, manager Converged Virtual and Cloud Systems team



This might sound like a strange title for a blog about infrastructure management software, but I think you’ll understand more in a second.  What I’m getting at is the way we perceive pricing seems to differ significantly between hardware and software. 


Because hardware is something that we can touch, we have an intuitive sense for how pricing works.  Hardware is something that contains raw materials and must be manufactured.  Therefore we understand that there is a cost associated with it, and we also understand that  costs translates into price, even if that price is not explicitly called out in a brochure or data sheet.  If someone asked you if the radio in your car was free, you would answer “of course not.”  You would understand the “price” of the radio was simply bundled into the overall price of the car.  The same goes for the steering wheel, the exhaust system, and the other essential components of your car.


Software, however, seems to be different.  We can’t touch it.  We can’t feel it.  Somehow the intangible nature of software leads us to believe that if there isn’t a price tag associated with the product, it must be free.  And well, there is actually some free software (not the software laden with ads) that we can download to our smart phones and tablet devices. 


But I would argue that infrastructure management software is different.  Even if there isn’t a price tag you can point to, you pay for it.  The price is simply embedded into the overall price of the infrastructure solution you are purchasing.  In fact, if there is a price tag associated with the software, it means you have the choice to pay for and use it.  If there is not price tag associated with the software, it often means you’ve paid for it even if you decide not to use it.  The “price” of the “free” software is simply embedded into the price of the solution you are buying.  It’s embedded into the servers, the switches, the chassis, etc. instead of being called out separately.


At HP, we get involved in a lot of infrastructure RFPs and one of the things that we often hear in RFPs that involve Cisco UCS is that UCS Manager is “free” while HP charges for its management software.   It is true that HP charges for HP OneView and other infrastructure management software components.  Cisco also charges for UCS Manager, but it simply does not publish a price.  You pay for UCS Manager whenever you purchase Cisco fabric interconnects and interconnect expansion modules, Cisco servers, Cisco chassis, Cisco fabric extenders,  etc.


And at the end of the day, the price of the management software is not really the issue.  It’s the price of the entire infrastructure solution and the value that it delivers that you care about.  You want to know how much you are paying when you tally up the complete stack of hardware, management software, OS and application software.  So if someone tries to convince you that UCS Manager or any other piece of management software is free, seek a second opinion and do the solution math for yourself.  In fact, we’d invite you to test our theory. Ask your HP or partner sales rep to price out an HP BladeSystem configuration including HP OneView vs. any of our competitors and make sure you get acquainted with HP OneView .  I think you will find the results compelling even if the competition’s management stack has the deceptive $0 price tag associated with it.



Want to learn more about HP BladeSystem with HP OneView?  Go to: hp.com/go/whybladesystem and put the power of one in your data center. 




Labels: HP OneView
Joe Houser | ‎10-02-2013 05:20 PM

Would this be the same way that Virtual Connect Manager is free?

Shaun Smith | ‎10-02-2013 05:27 PM

"You pay for UCS Manager whenever you purchase Cisco fabric interconnects and interconnect expansion modules, Cisco servers, Cisco chassis, Cisco fabric extenders,  etc."


Allow me to make an apples-to-apples comparison so that your RFP responses can be more thorough:


"You pay for Systems Insight Manager whenever you purchase HP Bladesystem interconnects, HP servers, HP chassis, HP Memory,  etc"



Steve Wolfe | ‎10-03-2013 04:26 AM

As an ex-HP/Compaq employee I find this assertion interesting yet baffling.  I never could understand why way back in the Compaq days we were willing to "give away" our element management solutions like Insight Manager, iLo, and On-Board Administrator.  We diminished the value of these tools and many customers never even bothered to deploy them since the perceived value was equal to what we asked them to pay. 


It seems to me that Cisco is just following a trend that was started by the ProLiant business teams in Houston 15 years ago...

ken.henault | ‎10-03-2013 06:47 PM
I work for HP Joe, You are correct. When you buy a product that includes software, you're paying for the software as part of the product. Even this type of included software has license terms., It's not free. Shawn, The point is that it really doesn't matter what the individual line items of a solution costs. Every vendor packages and bundles their solutions differently. For a true comparison build similar configurations, and compare prices at the bottom line. Steve, Actually the way I look at it, Cisco charges for their UCS Manager as "Port Licenses". Look at what a fully licensed UCS 61XX costs vs the comparable Nexus 5K. The proper way to position Insight Manager is as included software, not free software. Like I said above, you pay for everything you get, it's only a matter of where it shows up on the invoice.
Jim Litzau | ‎06-12-2014 03:39 PM

You're saying that HP Blade systems are cheaper as a whole? Hardware v. Hardware Cisco is cheaper, and the management software for Cisco is free whereas HP charges for it? Am I missing something?  Cisco may make HP blade systems look bad, I understand the frustration that must cause. The major difference is Cisco states facts. Power consumptions is much lower with UCS, cabling is cut by 75% with UCS. The computing power can't be touched and best of all it's cheaper.

celia.lawren | ‎06-19-2014 06:20 PM

Hi Jim, Thanks for your comment. Brad Kirby just posted a follow-up to this article on the CI blog site about UCSM pricing,Back to car radios…just because someone says it’s free, is it really?. It may answer your question on the cost of management software. Take a look and feel free to comment further on that article thread.



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About the Author
Greetings! I am on the HP Enterprise Group marketing team. Topics I am interested in include Converged Infrastructure, Converged Systems a...

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