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.


Valuable Features

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

Improvements to 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.

Room for 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.

Use of Solution

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

Deployment Issues

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

Stability Issues

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.

Scalability Issues

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

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.

Previous Solutions

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.

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.

Implementation Team

Implementation was done in-house.

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.

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.

Other Advice

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.
2 Comments
Carlos Filipe QuintasConsultant

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.

14 January 16
Chris ChilderhoseReal UserTOP REVIEWERELITE SQUAD

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.

14 January 16
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