VMware vSphere Review

Solutions can be tested in all manner of environments before deployment and go through rigorous testing before going live with the Redirect-on-Write snapshot technology.


What is most valuable?

VMware has polished their offerings for High Availability, fault tolerance, and live migration beyond any of their competitors.

How has it helped my organization?

Engineering new solutions in a difficult task. Working for a university, the student experience is our number one priority. Solutions can be tested in all manner of environments before deployment and go through rigorous testing before going live thanks to VMware's Redirect-On-Write snapshot technology.

What needs improvement?

While ESXi 6 brings fault tolerance for VMs with multiple CPU cores, I desperately, passionately need a better Web Client than the Flash-based monstrosity we've grown accustomed to. Having to perform certain tasks in the Web Client and certain tasks in the C# Fat Client make life very frustrating sometimes.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with VMware in various capacities for close to seven years.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

The environment was already deployed when I arrived at each of the institutions where I've worked.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Moving to new releases is a tricky business. I highly recommend staying a version behind. It's bitten us multiple times, most recently with the suite of CBT bugs. We had to temporarily adjust our backup procedures, which involved a lot of communication and justification.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, however, I have seen scalability issues with each of VMware's direct competitors.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

I have no experience with their customer service.

Technical Support:

I have no experience with their technical support.

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

I used to work with Hyper-V, but it is a very Microsoft-centric product. It has a long way to mature in terms of stability and cooperating with fringe cases. If you're an all Windows shop, Hyper-V is worth considering, but if you're a Windows/Linux mixed shop, and manage more than 200 servers, there is no good choice but VMware.

How was the initial setup?

It takes a lot of upfront understanding that some shops simply don't have. I went for my VCP Certification, and the level of detail and expertise required is vast. Everybody needs to be on board: from your networking team, to your security team, everybody needs to know how it interacts with their domain and bailiwicks. It's a game changer on every level imaginable, and the implications need to be made clear. There is, without a doubt, increased complexity, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was done in-house.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI is incalculable. We are a university and a university is its data. We can only afford to trust the very best. VMware has a reputation for being the "big player" for a reason, they really do the best. Hyper-V has come a long, long way since its first release, but it still has catching up to do.

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

Always pony up for one level higher than you think you need. It's so worth being able to implement new features and redundancies once your team is comfortable with how it works and what it means.

What other advice do I have?

The Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) is your bible now. Read it, understand it, and do not deviate from it. If you have existing centralized storage you wish to use, it must be on the HCL. See what VAAI primitives it supports. Do not thin provision both Array Side and VMware side; pick one.

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

author avatarSolutions Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Consultant

vSphere as the Hypervisor is still ahead of its competitors but it got more and more complex and difficult to understand as more and more features are added that most customers do not use, at least N-1 customers. While good to have, they are not must have features. HA, performance and storage features are the core of the vSphere, although VMware should not be packaging so much on the simple hypervisor solution. They have several other excellent products on orchestration and cloud management but there is still a gap between that and the underlying hypervisor, for the Systems Administrators.

author avatarChris Childerhose
ExpertTop 5Real User

The web client has definitely come a long way since it's inception but still needs some work I agree. There is a VMWARE fling out there with an HTML5 client that you install on the host. It is scaled down but might do what you need. Something to check out.