>Stop considering license prices, and start considering Total cost of ownership
That's OK if the organization has deep pockets, deadlines, and defined SLAs, and you happen to be an outside contractor who is called in to make a solution where he/she has to be able to walk away from whatever solution is in place at the end of the day, and have it supportable by other people.
However, at some places where they pay in-house admins, they might have carte-blanche to hack together whatever solution they like in whatever timeframe they like, to get something that's functional... at least most of the time, and then document it for their admin team.
I've worked in both modes of organisation and there is a completely different culture and approach to problems in both of them.
I think that as you find yourself re-reading what I wrote, I wasn't picking one solution over another. Just listing options. To someone who's pockets don't run deep, vmware isn't negligible in the licensing department. No two-ways about it, and no spin about TCP will hide that. When in-house admins and devs are paid a monthly wage and allowed to run amok doing their own R&D, TCO is fairly negligible. What isn't negligible for in-house admins, is to explain to their superiors as to why, despite being asked to keep costs down, that they go for the most expensive solution - what when there are open-source alternatives that they have all the time in the world on to get working and support.
Either way, vmware requires competent admins just like any other solution.