How has it helped my organization?
vSphere has been deployed in many of our customers. It improves drastically DC consolidation and proper use of available resources. At present, virtualised customers are still far from fully leveraging the potential of vSphere in part due to lack of expertise and fully understanding the concepts of virtualisation from an architecture point of view. It also improved resiliency and ease of asset management as most customers were able to reduce role segregation and have seen an opportunity for having DevOps since human resources became more available due to some degree of automation.
What is most valuable?
Having the ability to deploy fault tolerant VM’s with up to 4 CPUs is fantastic as it goes one level up from a business continuity perspective. Previously, VMware was covering, with just vSphere, backups and DR, and now it also covers a properly functional fault tolerant offering.
Single Sign On is another feature that is enhanced and solves much of the older problems, either in deploying or managing it. Cross vendor integration is in my opinion one of the best features. Although all these features are welcome and a must, they come at a price in terms of licensing.
What needs improvement?
I’d like to see a better web console or rather, transform the web console in a real single pane of glass for the whole infrastructure instead of having to go for vRealize Ops Manager. Other vendors are providing this already and vSphere (vendor) has that capability. I’d also like to see solutions such as vSAN in vSphere, really take off. It has a lot of potential and since it has been jointly done with other hardware vendors it somehow lost track of what the real purpose was, offer a whole very simple and very effective solution. Support for Virtual Volumes will be the next big thing, and although it is already implemented, it will take a while to see its light in production in customers.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The web client is sometimes slow and sluggish, other than that customers have no complaints around stability if the product is used as intended.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
This is one of the strongest points in vSphere. I've had no problems with scalability. Although it is dependant on the underlying hardware infrastructure and its scalability/growth/space/etc.
How are customer service and technical support?
It's very good.
Very good once you’re passed the initial “script-reading-far-far-away” operators.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
My customers have used all available solutions. Some move to vSphere, some move away. In the end it will be about costs unless very well justified by a business need for high resiliency and market name.
How was the initial setup?
Customers who move to or implement VMware are already aware and skilled on the implementation level. It is usually very straightforward.
What about the implementation team?
My company or a partner company does the implementation. With the amount of available documentation and training, the is no excuse for a poorly deployed platform on vSphere. Know how on platform usage is a different story.
What was our ROI?
Considering the consolidation and virtualisation portion of it, for a Greenfield, very good. For brownfield and considering license costs and removing the benefits of virtualisation, it is an ROI nightmare, but focusing on the product itself vSphere delivers a good ROI, lower than competitors but still OK.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Start with the lowest and upgrade if, and only if, absolutely necessary. Customers will find that the standard edition is more than sufficient for their needs until they are internally ready to move forward to a cloud operating model.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
All in the market. Hyper-V, KVM, Oracle VM, PowerVM, etc.
What other advice do I have?
Start with the least expensive Licensing model and upgrade as you need. Change your operating model to virtualisation and fully leverage its potential. vSphere has it all in one package and can really change the way IT operates. We’re 12 years into virtualisation on x86 and I still find most of the virtualised customers not happy with what it offers since they don’t know how to utilise it.