VMware vSphere Review

Changing hardware is quicker, but the web client is browser-dependent

What is our primary use case?

We use vSphere to manage the various vCenters that my group is responsible for. We use it for the main controllers. We have VMs that that manage access to buildings. Until there's a problem you don't realize, necessarily, how many key systems have been virtualized. If we shut everything down, then maybe people would realize how virtualization has really changed things.

We don't do anything active with the built-in security features, such as VM Encryption and support for TPM and VBS.

How has it helped my organization?

It's a big difference compared to having everything on hardware. In that situation, if you want to change memory, you have to bring your system down, open up the box, put new memory in - or a new processor, or any other hardware changes you want to make. With VMware, you may have to bring it down to make some changes, but then it's right back up again in a few minutes. It's a lot easier than if it was hardware.

What is most valuable?

There are various clients, for the environment that we have, that can be used. There's the thick client, there's the web client, there are obviously new clients when we upgrade to vSphere 6.7. One of the things I like with the web client, versus the thick client, is that we're able to access all the vCenters that we manage. With the thick client, you have to log in to one vCenter at a time.

What needs improvement?

As far as the web client goes, one of the frustrating things is that it's dependent on different browsers. One day it may work with only a given browser or there may be issues with Flash. So I look forward to being able to use the HTML 5 client. Hopefully, it will be a lot more stable and not have the kind of issues that I necessarily run into with the web client today.

One thing that is a little frustrating for me is that you have the network side with bandwidth and, if it's a system that's virtualized, obviously, you have VMware vSphere in the mix. There are all the different components. If someone has a VM and they don't like the performance or they see something that causes them to say, "Oh, this seems a little sluggish," they contact us and say, "Hey, what's going on?" And that becomes a kind of "magical mystery tour," a black box sometimes. I think, "Okay, where do I need to look? Is it even a problem within the virtualization infrastructure or is it somewhere else?" So that's what I'm hoping to find out about in some of the sessions, here at VMworld 2018, and maybe get some answers.

I haven't seen the new client with vSphere 6.7, so it's hard for me to say what additional features I would like to see.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is pretty good. If there is a stability issue it's probably something else, for instance, the power for the building or something like that. It's usually not an issue with VMware.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As long as you got the ESXi hosts with the resources necessary, scalability isn't a big problem. We don't really lock down a lot of our clients which are still within our organization. We don't really limit the resources. If it becomes an issue we'll look at that, but for the most part, it hasn't been a problem. If we look like we're getting a little tight on resources, then we look at getting and setting up a new ESXi host.

How is customer service and technical support?

I've had pretty good results with VMware technical support. It's not uncommon for us, if we're doing some kind of an upgrade that we're not necessarily familiar with, to open up an incident and tell them we're going to upgrade this to this version on this hardware. We just want to have an incident open. If something does happen, they're more than willing to work with us. I've had positive results.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved with the initial setup but I've been involved the last couple years or so with setting up some new ESXi hosts and I've gone through some practice in our test environment to upgrade to 6.7.

Overall, it's okay. There are some good resources out on the web or through VMUG that you can go through.

What was our ROI?

I don't really deal with the budget so it would be hard for me to say what our ROI is, but my boss does the budget and he seems happy. We keep getting more resources and more things are being virtualized.

What other advice do I have?

I would tell colleagues to take a look at vSphere, if it makes sense for their organization. I've been working with VMware products in one way, shape, or form since the late 90s. Originally, I used it for training purposes and I wasn't even thinking about production. But I have no qualms today, if it's a production system, virtualizing it, as opposed to keeping it on hardware. 

There is always a learning curve and there are also functionality differences between the clients.

For the most part, if everything is working fine, it's efficient to manage. But if you have people say, "Hey, I see performance issues," that's where it becomes a little more of a problem. That's one issue that we're trying to address right now: being able to capture more logging for longer periods of time. Perhaps we need to use a Syslog Server to be able to help troubleshoot some issues by being able to look at particular periods of time.

I rate this solution as a seven out of 10 because of the issues with the clients, especially the web client, at times. And there is also the "black box" nature of understanding what's going on when there is a problem.

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