VMware Software Defined Data Center Review

Gives us more use out of the hardware in our datacenters and reduces electrical costs


What is most valuable?

Reliability, cost effectiveness, integration.

How has it helped my organization?

It allows us to deploy faster, more scalable. We get far more use out of the hardware we buy in our datacenters, reducing electrical costs. We own our own datacenters, so electric cost is a big priority, as is space. The more space we can rent out to customers, the more profitable. VMware allows us to virtualize very well. It also allows us to orchestrate and automate, which reduces operating expenses.

What needs improvement?

I can't keep up with what they're releasing now, to be honest. Certainly, some of the new things they announced recently, like being able to get better intellect about the virtual machines. That's always been a challenge. vRealize Operations Manager is a really good product, but it's a bear to manage. So simplifying some of that would be good; it provides too much information at times. Being able to correlate some of that would help get more intelligence out of the virtual machines. I was glad to see they announced that in the keynote at VMworld 2017.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Exceptional. From a software standpoint, a very reliable product. We're not on the bleeding edge, so we wait a little bit for patches to come out, but it runs consistently.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Excellent. I think that goes without saying. I think I covered that one, but yes it is very scalable.

How is customer service and technical support?

I've used them mostly for critical issues. We have a lot of smart engineers that can handle most of the normal issues that they deal with. When we have a critical issue they usually get us to someone who is very good and knowledgeable.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We've been using VMware for years. I don't think that it was an actual decision. It was more along the lines of, "Wow this is a cool new product." We go back probably to 3.5, so many years ago. We really did it as most people start out, some management machines, some noncritical workloads, and started to implement it that way, and then realized the value and started to expand to the more critical workload.

So I don't know that it was this awakening that said, "We have to go in this direction." It just kind of morphed, saying, "Hey this is cool, let's try it out on some management. Wow this really works nice," and then started to expand on that, and now we're almost probably 95% virtualized.

How was the initial setup?

Depends on the product. vSphere was simple. ESXi is simple. vRealize Operations is simple to set up, but a little more difficult to make it do something that's useful.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No, we started with VMware very early. We're looking at Hyper-V, but it's just not where VMware is.

What other advice do I have?

When selecting a vendor, the most important aspects would be support and durability, that they stand behind the product. I have been working with EMC for years, and they have always stood behind their products. VMware does the same thing. They're owned by the same people, so that makes sense. Every software product and hardware product is going to have issues. I don't care who they are or how good they are. It's how they stand behind the product. When my sales engineers and sales guys come in and tell me this will do something, if there are some problems, the way they stand behind the product is really what makes a difference for me.

If you're starting out and you're looking to go to a software defined data center, which is really the way of the future, then you have to look at all the aspects of what something like VMware offers. They cover from soup to nuts. So you can have one vendor, one management plane, one orchestration plane. I think that makes a big difference. I think that would be my big driver towards it, because it is going to probably cost you a little more than some other solutions. But I think the combination of all those things, the operational efficiencies, make up for the difference.

If you've never dealt with it then I would get your people trained. That's a good starter. And you could certainly bring in VMware's professional services to help you start out if you don't have any expertise at this point. It's probably the best way to get started. Get your people trained, and bring in some professional services to help you get started because they have packs to help you get started with things.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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