VMware vSphere Review

It's served my purpose of just needing to virtualize our environment and manage it effectively.

Valuable Features

Truthfully, I'm not using many of the available features. My needs have been small in that we just needed to virtualize our environment and manage it effectively. VMware vSphere has served that purpose greatly. I’m sure what I get out of vSphere, though, could potentially be gained just as easily via other virtualization platforms available today, but at the time I felt those were too immature to risk. VMware just worked with little to no issue, so I trust them going forward.

Improvements to My Organization

The largest benefit for my companies that have used this is the consolidation of our physical server footprint. Never would I thought I could run as many VMs on a single host as we do today.

Room for Improvement

Overall I’m very happy with what the product brings so I can’t suggest any major improvements. However, I’m very disappointed in VMware’s decision to push management to a web-based vCenter client and away from the standalone thick client. The web client is just terrible in so many ways, mainly on a performance basis. It is very slow. I also find the thick client much easier to navigate and work with my VMs. A large user population shares my sentiment as there are a number of posts in VMware’s forums regarding the issues with the web client. I hope VMware realizes this and either greatly enhances the web client or moves back to the thick client for management.

Use of Solution

I have been using it since vSphere 4, so approximately five to six years.

Deployment Issues

I’m sure there were issues to contend with originally, but as the product matures it gets easier and easier.

Stability Issues

I’m sure there were issues to contend with originally, but as the product matures it gets easier and easier.

Scalability Issues

I’m sure there were issues to contend with originally, but as the product matures it gets easier and easier.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

It was pretty straightforward, from what I recall, but I did not do most of the initial setup. I assisted a colleague who took the reigns.

Technical Support:

I've rarely had to enlist support, but when I have it’s been what I would expect.

Initial Setup

It was pretty straightforward, from what I recall but I did not do most of the initial set-up. I assisted a colleague who took the reigns.

Implementation Team

My first environment was set up by a single colleague with my assistance. The only advice I can really give is to really know your requirements for the systems and software you intend to virtualize and build a proper sized VM environment to host them. Oversubscribing resources is, in my opinion, the biggest concern and something that happens easily. Also factor in proper storage built to handle the I/O load of a virtual environment. Lastly, build your VM environment to factor in an N+1 design to ensure if a host fails, the remaining host(s) can handle the load of all VMs that were running on the failed host and always allow for a 15% overhead of free resources under full load.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

I really did not handle the financial aspects of my VM environments, but I do know VMware is pricey. These days, from a price point, I would take a hard look at MS Hyper-V as they are catching up with VMware fairly quickly.

Other Solutions Considered

When I first looked into virtualization it was back when VMware released vSphere 4. At that time I was interested in Citrix Xen and MS Hyper-V. I felt at the time VMware was the industry leader and was more mature so I trusted them above all others. I’ve been happy with the choice since, though for cost purposes I am really interested in Microsoft’s Hyper-V solution.

Other Advice

Cost considerations aside, be sure to properly scale your VM environment above all else. This is true regardless of product.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

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

author avatarChris Childerhose
ExpertTop 5Real User

If you have not already tried Version 6 you may want to as the Web Client is much improved in all aspects and now has Update Manager within it for full management. Also if you want HTML5 there is a Fling from VMWARE that loads directly on the host for Web Access but is scaled back though.

author avatarit_user132501 (Manager of Infrastructure at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees)

VMware claim they are working very hard on improving the performance of the Web Client, However, although this seemed to be a problem, it still allows for LESS data to be sent from the vCenter DB down to the client for the simple matter that you have a large amount of the visible data residing locally, and this is fast, response times are great.

author avatarit_user297561 (VMware(VCP5), VMware Regional Academy Director at a university with 501-1,000 employees)

I agree with cchilderhose, that v6 has significant improved in the responsiveness. I currently am the VMware IT Academy (vITA) Coordinator/Instructor for our Community College: www.cccti.edu/vmware.
We were invited in 2006 by VMware to assist in the development of the vITA program which means I started with in in v3.5.

We have been somewhat force to use the Web Client since we have to instruct others on how to use VMware "Features". When the Web client was first introduce even folks from within VMware did not have a lot of positive comments about it.
But no matter what we all get familiar with initially, change is change. With the vSphere Client you don't have to think about how to do something you just do it. When first using the Web client I always felt as if I were stumbling around to find how to get where I need to be to complete a task. Not good when you are trying to show others.

With the release of v6 and in particular update1, the web client operates much more responsively. In addition, now that I have been using it for 2yrs, it does not function the same as the vSphere client and I now have learned how to be more proficient.
In fact, during the last section of the ICMv6 course we just finished teaching, I actually felt I was better completing tasks than I am with the vSphere Client. I guess the comment here is: "Be patient grasshopper".

The other thing of note is that if you do tasks in the vSphere Client they do not always propagate correctly. For example in assignments of access control.

One question I have is, for those that are not interested in using PowerCLI or the Virtual Management Assistant (vma), how will you be able to manage a host directly? When the eliminate the vSphere client.

I like to make comparisons, something I do now since I have been in Higher Ed for near 20yrs now after being in industry 20yrs prior, is that if you give me an iPhone I will stumble around trying to make a call since I use an android.