VMware vSphere Review

vMotion allows us to move VMs from host to host, which helps a lot while performing scheduled maintenance on production environments and for workload consolidation.


Valuable Features

  • The most valuable feature is High Availability. Even if there's a complete hardware or software failure of the host, which doesn't happen very often, we have peace of mind knowing the production servers can be restarted on a different VM if necessary.
  • vMotion allows us to move VMs from host to host, which helps a lot while performing scheduled maintenance on production environments and for workload consolidation.
  • vShield endpoint offloads the CPU and memory for virus protection and prevents update and scan storms.
  • vGPU gives us almost bare-metal performance on virtual desktops from zero clients and it allows our users to move from device to device while keeping consistent experience and performance.

Improvements to My Organization

With vSphere, we were able to consolidate just about every workload, server or desktop, which in turn allowed us to save a lot on hardware, power, and space. Also, of course, deploying new desktops and servers in minutes is a definite time saver.

Room for Improvement

Some modifications are still require to be done with the CLI, directly on the host, like SSL certificate management and reclaiming storage space on thin provision disk (depending on storage devices). It would save a lot of time if those could have a simple GUI in the vCenter.

Use of Solution

I've used vSphere for more than three years in general and a a few months for version 6.0.

Deployment Issues

No issues with deployment so far.

Stability Issues

A few months back, we had random crashes of PCoIP sessions on virtual desktops with more than one monitor. But it turned out to be a problem with vGPU drivers provided by NVIDIA. So with vSphere itself, we've had no stability issues.

Scalability Issues

The vCenter makes scalability pretty easy.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

VMware’s customer service is very helpful when you need to find the right product for the right environment.

Technical Support:

We had to call VMware once so far and they really followed through. They diagnosed a problem related to a third-party driver (NVIDIA) and obtained for us a patched version of the driver from the manufacturer. They were very efficient!

Previous Solutions

In my previous company, we used oVirt, the free-of-charge version of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, which turned out to be way more expensive than a solution like VMware in terms of both human and hardware resources.

Initial Setup

The initial setup was very easy, very straight forward. The only downside of the process was the replacement of the auto-generated self-signed SSL certificate by an enterprise-CA-signed one, which had to be done manually via CLI.

Implementation Team

We implemented it ourselves.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Even though the initial cost of vSphere seems a bit high, it is really going to pay off by freeing time for teams and lowering your hardware costs. Regarding licensing, if you have any doubt, just ask VMware’s customer service to help you. Some editions and kits might already include all you need.

Other Solutions Considered

We evaluated Microsoft Hyper-V, but it seemed unfinished. Management tools are almost non-existent and hosts constantly need to be rebooted to install patches that are purely Windows related and have nothing to do with the virtualization itself.

Other Advice

For small infrastructures, start with the free vSphere Hypervisor. For small businesses, VMware vSphere Essentials Kits are inexpensive but limited to three hosts. So be sure you are not going to grow more than this for a while if you are considering this option. For medium-sized businesses and corporations, go for it. It will greatly reduce your operating costs.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Certified reselling partner.
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4 Comments
Mbono MtshaliReal UserTOP 20

Afternoon to you all. I want to know if it is possible to switch from vmware 3.0 to a latest version without disturbing services.

17 February 16
Chris ChilderhoseReal UserTOP REVIEWERELITE SQUAD

You can switch but you need to conduct a stepped upgrade of the hosts from 3 to 4, 4 to 5 and then 5 to 6. You cannot go directly to Version 6 from 3.0 as it is not supported. See this link for further details - http://www.vmware.com/ca/en/products/vsphere/upgrade-center/upgrade

17 February 16
Virtualization Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employeesConsultant

As Chris already mentioned, you should go step by step.. Make sure you are in 5.1 U3 and above when you are upgrading to 6.0.

01 March 16
Christina Phillips, MBAReal UserTOP 5

As Chris and Karthik have mentioned, step by step. Do you have enough hosts to handle your VM's while one host is updating? Also, you have to update firmware for each of the hosts. I did a small environment (5 hosts, 140 VM's) and used the Dell Enterprise iDRAC to get into the UEFI boot of my newer hosts to update firmware remotely. Older hosts are a bit more difficult, but possible (such as burning DVD's or USB sticks) and using the iDRAC or ILO to boot for firmware updates.

One of the things about VMWare is that it runs really well and the hosts are generally not restarted for quite a while, with the end result that firmware for NIC's, RAID and BIOS has been updated at least once... and the newer VMWare versions are tied to having the latest firmware.

07 March 16
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