VMware vSphere Review

VMware's vSphere is THE industry leading virtualization platform - today


Valuable Features:

- Increase the flexibility and agility of the infrastructure to move at the speed of business by decoupling the server from the hardware - Server consolidation has driven the virtualization industry shift, and vSphere leads the charge. - Virtualization overhead is the smallest of any hypervisor on the planet. - Supports over 90 operating systems, whereas other vendors cannot even come close - Centralized management and built-in performance statistics collection make management easy - Complementing tools, such as Site Recovery Manager, vCenter Operations Manager, vShield, and vCloud Director just increase the power of the stack. - Add in the licensing for the operating systems and the applications running virtualized, plus the cost of management tools. The competition costs the same.

Room for Improvement:

- The entry point for small business is fairly high. They are working on this currently. - Capacity management for top-tier business critical servers - Currently VMware has a tremendous amount of products that complement the vSphere suite. Some of the products are complementary, and some compete with each other. This product list is sometimes hard to navigate. - Security access granularity for end users can be complex.

Other Advice:

VMware's vSphere is currently THE industry leading virtualization platform. I have been using VMware vSphere and its predecessors for almost ten years now. The core hypervisor continues to lead the industry. At the present time, you cannot go wrong with VMware's vSphere suite. However, competitors are rapidly closing the gap, so watch the market closely over the next few years. I implement business-critical applications on vSphere for all sizes of business almost daily, and am proud to be a virtualization enthusiast. At the moment, VMware vSphere is my hypervisor of choice - without reservation.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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12 Comments
Tech Support Staff at a tech company with 1,001-5,000 employeesVendor

Hello Kleegeek

What is your take on the cost of vSphere in comparison to other alternative virtualization products available in the market. If the cost of virtualization products in the market decreases way below that of vSphere in the future, would you still have the same stance? Do you think cost can affect the rank or popularity of vSphere amongst businesses globally?

01 September 13
kleegeekReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 20

Greetings! Thanks for the great question. I think cost can definitely have an affect on the adoption of any virtualization technology. Right now, VMware is expensive, but I still claim that it is the most capable platform for enterprise-level virtualization. However, as current competitors continue to ramp up and mature, and new competition emerges, anything is possible.

I look at it this way... the cost of the virtualization, when weighed against the cost of the application licensing that goes into the VMs that run on the virtualized platform, render the cost of the virtualization to basically a rounding error.

The entry cost of virtualization for smaller shops is more severe up front, and the scale that comes with the enterprise helps keep the impact of the cost down. So, to answer your question, I think that as the size of the businesses in question drop, the more attractive other platforms are bound to be.

I hope this answers your question!

03 September 13
HenryReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 5

Hi kleegeek,

Any update after VM World 2013?

Thanks

Henry

03 September 13
kleegeekReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 20

VMware vSphere 5.5 looks to continue its trend of staying in front of the pack.

The biggest for me is that you can now have a single virtual disk (VMDK) that has a maximum size of 62TB, up from the SCSI-2 limitation holder of 2TB. That brings it on-par with Hyper-V 2012. You can also add up to 120 virtual disks per VM, so any excuse about virtual disk limitations are now a thing of the past.

Next is how you can add SSD-based flash read-only caching to the host natively instead of requiring expensive third party solutions. For my world, this is wonderful as I deal with heavy-hitting database servers that can just pummel a SAN with their I/O needs.

The vCenter improvements are very nice, which helps keep the management of these complex infrastructures as simple as possible.

The free version of ESXi has removed it's obnoxious 32GB of memory limitation. Yay!

VMware also has some updates to the vCloud suite and virtual networking which are expected in the coming months. They are sure to help improve the management capabilities and flexibility of these systems.

All of these features are fantastic. From an enterprise perspective, it's still on top! The competition is getting there, however, and if an organization does not require a lot of bells and whistles in a virtualization layer, the playing field is quite level for that organization to take a number of directions with hypervisors and virtualization technologies.

03 September 13
HenryReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 5

Saluting kleegeek!

Henry

04 September 13
ctsandersResellerTOP 5LEADERBOARD

@tina5giga

Let me make sure I address your questions without a lot of confusion:

Quote: "If the cost of virtualization products in the market decreases way below that of vSphere in the future, would you still have the same stance?

Ok, if price is your only reason for purchasing a product, then you may need to rethink your career because this may not be it. However, if that is a rhetorical question, then I would think not. If I have a requirement where the customer needs a product that meets specific criteria, easy to setup, well established (not going anywhere) and is constantly enhancing their product line by working with vendors who add enhancements to their solutions offering for the better from an end-to-end perspective; from my vantage point, I don't think you can put a price on something at the end of the day that just makes the customer happy where you are getting repeat business especially if it just works.

However, if the competing solutions meet business requirements where the price point is comparable with market and the solution just works, then one has to revisit the technology. The question you have to ask yourself would be as follows:

→ Do I have staff trained and ready to deploy a solution with minimal downtime?
→ If I don't have anyone who is familiar with the technology, what is the learning curve I have to consider?
→ What type of response and support to problematic issues will I have available?
→ Has the management staff looked at putting together a pricing matrix that takes into consideration how long will it take to get the product up and running?
→ What are my recurring costs?
→ What is the price of the support agreement?
→ What type of hardware will I need to purchase to ensure the product works in a supported environment?
→ Does the solution support different storage capabilities (SSD, SSD caching, Flash (MLC/SLC), FCoE, FCIP, FC, ISCSI, NFS, storage virtualization)
→ What response has your IT staff gotten from your security team and have they provided any recommendations (is the product FIPS 140-2 compliant, NIST 800-18 or 800-53)
→ Does the solution support IPv6?
→ Does the solution provide Mobile Device Management (MDM) support?
→ Finally, does the solution give you ability to add plugins or APIs to resolve a problem from other organizations (i.e. Nicira, EMC, IBM, HP, etc) or something that is considered a homegrown solution?

If so, after adding add of the items mentioned, then evaluation the overall project cost, then you can make an informed decision based on the factors given, remember, direct labor cost has an astounding affect on budgetary pricing if the solution takes a long time to setup, you may find that it (solution) may surpass what you have budgeted. Remember there are a lot of decisions you have to take into consideration when you are looking at a visualization solution for your organization, it is not just the cost of the software that needs to be taken into consideration but the overall capabilities, functionality, security considerations and lastly cost. I have included a few items just to recap our conversation:

→ Hardware/ancillary costs
→ Datacenter environmentals (heating, power, cooling)
→ System/Device Management (dashboard access, web UI)
→ Disaster Recovery/HA solutions and market system integration
→ Integration with your existing hardware and software (do you need to overhaul everything you have to get this solution running)
→ Does the product work with your existing security products and will there be an impact to performance?
→ Open Standard acceptance (APIs or different tools to help automate and manage the environment)
→ Training and ease of use (How hard is it to setup and is there a training cost, bring people up to speed)?
→ Support & Contract agreement cost (SLA costs)

Once you take these things into consideration, then perform a comparison based on market research (Forester and/or Gartner). Don't do it for the first year, do it for 3-5 years and be sure to take the items listed above into consideration as part of your overall product/market research.

Do you think cost can affect the rank or popularity of vSphere amongst businesses globally?

→ Yes, if the price difference is considerable and if the overall cost remains consistent between the varying software along with functionality, security and capability are somewhat in line with VMware. As a side note, I do think companies are smart enough where they are able to see a direct correlation between direct labor cost, hardware, datacenter environmental and miscellaneous cost that will help them determine if the overall cost to setup, automate and deploy an environment would be cheaper over the long run. This can be determined by setting up a mock or proto-typical environment to compare both systems. That often times answers any question that initially go unanswered during the initial phases of your design.

In addition, Kleegleek bring up some valid points about the cost of the virtualization but I am not sure if he is familiar with the recurring costs of the other platforms but it is worth mentioning.

VMware Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions are expensive in comparison to the other vendors but I think the thing that is missing out of the comment is the recurring costs associated with VMware's competitors. L et's look at Citrix in this instance. Let's say you purchase Citrix Xendesktop 7, there are different licensing structures associated with your decision. There is the Standard, Enterprise and Platinum license editions.

→ The standard license gives you the ability to create virtual desktops and servers
→ The enterprise license gives the user the ability to use Xendesktop and XenApp (manage your applications in a bundle)
→ Platinum edition
♣ Citrix Access Gateway Enterprise Edition - Access Gateway provides secure remote access to XenDesktop.
♣ Desktop performance monitoring - This feature monitors and tracks the performance of virtual desktops, allowing administrators to proactively manage the virtual desktop experience by measuring key performance elements. This data can then be used to enhance the infrastructure before users are adversely affected.
♣ WAN optimization - XenDesktop maximizes the quality of the remote user experience by using Citrix Branch Repeater (formerly known as "WANScaler") to accelerate virtual desktop and application performance across wide area networks. This feature requires the separate purchase of a Branch Repeater appliance.
♣ Citrix Password Manager - Password Manager provides single sign-on access regardless of how or where users connect, and it enables users to reset their own Windows password or unlock their account. Note that Password Manager is not fully supported on Windows 7 and the Hot Desktop feature, which allows users to share workstations securely and efficiently, is not supported in XenDesktop.
♣ XenApp Platinum - The Platinum edition of XenApp provides powerful tools for greater scalability, control and visibility of even the most complex environments.

This offers a great deal of flexibility but the cost is a reoccurring re-reinstatement cost unlike VMware Cloud Suite exceeds VMware costs after 3 years of use. That is one cost where most if not all of the items are included to design your cloud environment.

In addition, VMware offers a small business version - http://store.vmware.com/store/vmware/en_US/pd/ThemeID.2485600/productID.282883900. If you work with a partner who is a Gold or Platinum partner or if you are a educational facility, then the price drops.

In addition, from a VMware perspective, there are other options available which are not so expensive. The MSRP price for the small business edition is $560, this is a 1 time price, if you go with Citrix, you are talking about recurring costs that are more expensive over time which does not include failover, HA, Operations Management, etc. As a side note, the VMware ESXi does not cost anything, so to setup virtual machines on a server similar to Citrix Xenserver will be the same, the only thing that is different is the management of the solution. Citrix gives you the ability to somewhat manage your solution where VMware gives you 60 days using VMware Vsphere/vCenter but they don't provide the full suite of features but VMware gives you full capability for 60 days, Citrix does not, you have to purchase a license. So each one has a number of benefits.

Finally, if you want to get a better understanding of what is involved where you want to look at different solutions side by side, there is a good website that lays out functionality along with price that I would highly suggest reading as part of your analysis - http://www.virtualizationmatrix.com/matrix.php

I use this site to compare solutions from an apple-to-apples perspective. This is not perfect, but it does give you a guide as to what you could expect. This guy did a good job at setting this up for people to review, from RHEL, Hyper-V, VMware Vsphere to Citrix Xenserver/Xendesktop.

I hope this helps.

Todd Sanders (Sr. Partner & Datacenter Architect at ITOTS Networks, LLC)

04 September 13
kleegeekReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 20

Wow - awesome response! I completely agree!

04 September 13
Tech Support Staff at a tech company with 1,001-5,000 employeesVendor

@Kleegeek - Thanks for your response.
@ctsanders - Thanks for the well explained response. It is very clear, hence self explanatory. However, I disagree on just one thing 'Ok, if price is your only reason for purchasing a product, then you may need to rethink your career because this may not be it'.

The cost question is from a client's (company or business not an individual) point of view not the vendor. There are times when businesses can face financial troubles. Such times are not planned for neither are they guaranteed to occur but they sure can! When a business experiences such troubles, do business halt that instance? No. The first step is to cut on costs and monitor expenses at least until the financial crisis is over. It is at this point when 'cost' matters to a business. They must find a product (not just vSphere) that will fit within their budget but perform optimally. Therefore, no need to switch career; in fact, such a step might just save the business and keep it running until the sun comes up.

Otherwise, was a great response. Thank you because it did answer my question.

Cheers
Tina

08 September 13
Project Manager at a non-tech company with 10,001+ employeesConsultantTOP REVIEWER

@ctsanders - Thanks for the awesome explanation !! I completely agree that along with product cost, we should also concentrate on recurring costs.

29 September 13
ctsandersResellerTOP 5LEADERBOARD

@Tina5giga,

Quote1: Do you think cost can affect the rank or popularity of vSphere amongst businesses globally?

• Well, first you asked a question about could the cost of a product affect how you view it? The answer was based on that very premise where I described cost should not be your only underlying factor and if it is, then you might not be in the right industry (because you have not done your due diligence and researched the pros, cons of the product before purchasing it), I do understand that businesses can experience problems but that point was not part of the initial conversation (basically, I made no assumption that the business did not have resources, I think you expressed that later in the conversation).

Quote2: The cost question is from a client's (company or business not an individual) point of view not the vendor. There are times when businesses can face financial troubles. Such times are not planned for neither are they guaranteed to occur but they sure can!

• I do agree with your second point; however, the conversation was not based on the premise that a business might be experiencing financial difficulties (as stated above). The statements you are referencing were not part of the original question, if that is the case, then we are referring to two different things with contingencies.

• However, if we were to look at the scenario you brought up from a company perspective and the company is facing financial difficulties, then I don't think the cost of software would be something that I would be focusing on, I think there are other priorities that would need my attention, lol.

Anyway, have a great day.

Todd

29 September 13
Tech Support Staff at a tech company with 1,001-5,000 employeesVendor

@Kapilmalik1983 - I agree. Recurring costs are just as essential as that of purchasing the product.

06 October 13
Developer at a transportation company with 1,001-5,000 employeesVendor

Does anyone know what is the correct number of JVMs per virtual machine? Thank you.

16 September 14
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