VMware vSphere Review

We even run our ERP environment, which is AIX, on vSphere


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is to virtualize our physical environment and to decentralize management of the systems themselves. It has been performing very well. We use it for everything. 

About 95 percent of our environment is virtualized at this point. Even our ERP environment, which is AIX, runs on vSphere, ESXi is the host. We have implemented SRM for failing-over and having high availability and disaster recovery in our other data centers.

How has it helped my organization?

We have seen a good 20-30 percent performance boost for our apps. Our underlying infrastructure is a full HPE shop. We've gone to full SSD drives at this point, so by doing that we have actually gotten a good performance boost.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the scalability and the ease of use. The latter makes it most efficient to use. It is very simple, very easy. We've been doing it for a while now. Most of that comes from having the expertise in-house to run it, and that's why we're here at VMworld 2018.

What needs improvement?

I have just been looking through what vSphere 6.7 has coming, and one of the things I'm most excited about is the fact that we won't need to use multiple Clients any longer, if all the features that are supposed to be available are, in fact, available in the HTML5 Client. That's one of the biggest things because, for me, it's all about management. For the most part, all the other things that have made VMware invaluable in our lives should be working just as well, but a little bit more speed won't hurt.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is okay. For the most part, when we have issues it's because the self-connections or the VPN connections between the cloud space and our internal network go down. It doesn't necessarily mean that access to those applications is cut off from the outside, because the applications are up. It's just the connectivity on the inside. Depending on the use case, if the application is hosted on the outside and it's being used by people on the inside - which in most cases is not the case - it's usually people who manage it who can't get to it. For the most part, we're okay with it.

How is customer service and technical support?

I rate tech support highly, for the help we get.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Prior to having this, we had physical servers. We've virtualized almost everything that we can virtualize. I wish we could virtualize our IBM iSeries, the mainframe, which is impossible to do. But for everything else, I think we are pretty okay.

When selecting a vendor, I first look at

  • proven industry standards
  • longevity
  • security
  • good customer experience
  • a robust infrastructure that is scalable and tested. 

Usually, when we make recommendations, which is one of the things we do as infrastructure specialists, we evaluate several vendors and try to see which ones match up most with these criteria. Whichever one comes out ahead, comes out ahead.

How was the initial setup?

The NSX part of the setup was fairly complex: Setting up the networks and setting up the VPCs was a little bit challenging, but there was good support from both sides, from the VMware side and AWS side, to get things up and running the proper way, and that helped a lot.

What was our ROI?

We see a tremendous return on investment.

What other advice do I have?

If you're not on vSphere, you should get on it as soon as possible because it will only make your life easier. All the different innovations that have been coming out over the years have shown that it's only going to get better, especially with artificial intelligence, IoT, etc. With all the different technologies that are being proposed, VMware is always going to get better. From a technology standpoint, anybody who is in the industry needs to be on this because it just makes everything easier.

We have been using the built-in security features such VM Encryptions and support for TPM and VBS, and it has been hit or miss for us. In some instances we've used it and in some instances we haven't. But for the most part, I think it's okay.

We have started using some cloud technologies with it, partnering with AWS to do that. We have a couple of internet-facing applications that we have used, that we have deployed to the cloud, and the experience has been somewhat okay.

Because of the nature of our business, there is an apprehension toward actually putting information out on the cloud, if it's not a private cloud. So the latter is what we have chosen to do. We have been able to deploy applications into our own private cloud space, with dedicated pipes to the cloud, with firewalls on both sides of it. We do AD Federation Services to authenticate between the cloud space and our internal network, and we have domain controllers in the cloud as well. We have gone through the growing pains of going to the cloud and now we're working through the quirks and nuisances that come along with that.

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