The ability to maximize the use of existing hardware resources and run multiple servers at the same time.
Improvements to My Organization
Without too much detail, we use the ESXi Server to host our SBS for DNS, DHCP, and Exchange in conjunction with another server the is used to run our file share. We have another ESXi we use in our test environment that has worked out in not only pretesting certain configurations, but also we use it to recover data from, say, an infected hard drive. We simply grab an image of the drive, restore it to the virtual machine while isolating the network connectivity and perform all solutions and testing that may be needed.
Room for Improvement
At this time and with the way we use it, none.
Use of Solution
The company has been using the solution for a couple of years now.
Yes. With ESXi one must make sure the hardware that is used matches the compatibility list provided by vmware. Once the host machine is configured appropriately, it's smooth sailing.
Amazingly, no. All is stable with the host, and the VM's whether Windows XP, 7 Pro x86/x64, 8, 8.1, and Linux.
I think the only limitations with scalability are related to the ESXi host machine itself. If it is not configured with enough horsepower, then it wont be very scalable. However a simple machine with an intel i7 processor, z87 chip-set, Intel nic cards, and 32 gigs of ram has the ability to run multiple servers with ease and speed.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Customer Service: I have not needed to contact their customer service.Technical Support: Support has been self driven via research and VMWare's web site. Being that ESXi is free, the support is great.
Previous to the current environment. I was dabbling with virtualbox. Awesome software but the application for it is different because its small scale and does not optimize its usage of the hardware its running on. It can crash windows.
The initial setup was fairly easy ONCE the correct/compatible hardware is set up for the host machine. I found the learning curve very minor, as well.
The initial setup was performed by our IT consultant. The consultant then showed me how it works and configuration that one can do. I also dove deep into research on ESXi. I would say the level of expertise about 7 on a scale of one to ten because of the way we use it.
Well I am not in the accounting office, but I would "guestimate" that it pays for itself with the increase in efficiency, the ability to circumvent the need to have a ratio of 1 machine for every server, and it doesn't crash.
Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing
I built the machine for the test environment we have in-house. The machine ran about $700.00 over all. Day to day cost is only that of the electricity used to run it. The 4 other ESXi hosts were built before I arrived. I can estimate the cost about $400 each plus the OS's (SBS, Win2008r2, etc, etc) to build and to run daily is again only the cost of the electricity.
Other Solutions Considered
I came into the environment where it was already in place. Despite that fact, I have test drove Hyper-V and virtual box to compare and get a feel for which is best. I am a believer in VMWare.
Plan, plan, plan. Always plan out your network changes, test those changes, implement, monitor, and note take along the way. Aside from that, do it.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jul 28 2014