VMware vSphere Review

Good high availability, easy to scale, and pretty stable overall


What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution for everything Microsoft-related for the most part. I would say our visualization platform is about 99.5% of all our workload from a Microsoft point of view

What is most valuable?

The solution has high availability. 

The on the fly changing of the resources on a VM is very helpful. 

You've got the underlying capacity, that's greater than what the actual server has, and therefore you have the ability to do on the fly add capacity. I would say that's by far the thing we use the most. 

The VRS, to a lesser degree, is also quite useful to us. It does work in the environment. 

The solution is very good from a recoverability point of view. Everything can be stored much easier on a virtual server than on a physical box. 

What needs improvement?

The biggest pain point is probably the firmware management of the underlying hardware. It could be a lot better.

We use HP hardware. The biggest thing is the firmware upgrades and other items at the backend. You have to take down the system. It's an in-memory database and that can sometimes cause issues. If you have to do firmware upgrades, it's organizing downtime and all sorts of things, which normally in a VMS space isn't an issue. They have embedded some of this in 7.1, however, I haven't tested it or seen it in action as yet. 

That said, one of the problems is that when we're sort of behind big memory servers and the databases in them if you migrate it, it potentially breaks the system off. That's a big pain point that the firmware management of the underlying hardware should handle. VMware doesn't really cater to it, however, Nutanix to some degree does cater for. It gets pretty expensive, however.

We are always sort of one or two versions behind. We never test the latest version. I would say for me personally, the management aspect with large memory and in-memory databases for the motions and stuff like that is what it needs. That's one of the key things that I need really, from a support perspective. That's caused a number of issues already. 

You do get something called host profiles, which they've also improved slightly, however, I still think it's a bit clunky in terms of the way you can manage it. They can produce something to improve that aspect slightly.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for more than 12 years. It's been over a decade at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is mostly stable.

We've had issues, however, if you think about it, it's quite complex if you look at stuff like a three-tier architecture with different stories, subsystems, and things like that. It's not really VMware if it's unstable perhaps. 

VMware itself isn't necessarily unstable, however, they might present as a VM-ware issue due to the fact of the storage latency or a driver issue. We did a firmware update and VMware itself I think is quite stable. Every now and again, there's an issue that creeps in, however, it's because we use different vendors for storage and a different vendor for computing. Overall, by and large, VMware is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From the way we set it up, it is relatively easy to scale as long as you've got the planning in place for where you're going to. We use something called blade technology, and that is relatively easy to scale.

There's a total of ten people that are actually on the solution at any given time.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've used technical support a couple of times. I'm quite happy with it. We've got an agreement with HP. We offer our support via HP or via Data Centrix with HP. Durin the couple of times I've used it has been quite fast and thorough.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've never used a different solution. I started using VMware or VMware server, about 20 years ago. vSphere ESX is probably the first visualization tool I've used. Subsequently, yes, we've tested one or two other options, for example, Hyper-V and what used to be called Acropolis. We've also used Oracle VM. However, for production and for everything else we've done, we pretty much speak to VMware. It's tried and tested and we're quite happy with the stability. Therefore, we stick with it.

How was the initial setup?

If all your hardware requirements are met, it is a relatively simple implementation. However, you have to have the boxes ticked in terms of connectivity, capacity, and all that sort of stuff. The actual VMware part of it is not the biggest complication of everything now.

We handle maintenance ourselves. My team consists of five people, and of those, only one of them really works on the maintenance of the hardware and the software. It doesn't take a lot of personnel.

What about the implementation team?

Initially, we did use a vendor for the initial setup. That's even before I started at this company. The company uses their local vendors to output the hardware deployment and with the software deployment, however, it's my understanding that it's been done in-house mostly.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's not a cheap solution. The maintenance specifically is quite expensive. I also find that it's more expensive than the higher tier products. 

We've looked at buying into something like a vROPS or whatever they call it today. However, when you look at the cost and the benefits, although there is great benefit in the product, it's just never been a cost discussion that we've been able to entertain with management. 

Similar to vSAN, we looked at that a couple of times. It's a great product and it has proven itself. It's brilliant. It's stable. However, as soon as you look at any peripheral products, it becomes quite expensive, as it's licensed per socket or per blade or per server or whatever. 

What other advice do I have?

We're just customers.

We are a little behind the latest version, which I believe is 7.1. We're using 6.5 for the most part. We still have a little bit of a legacy in 5.5, however, that is just hardware related. It doesn't support the newer version. We trying to rectify that as soon as possible.

I would recommend the solution to other companies.

Overall, I would rate the solution nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

6.5
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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