What is our primary use case?
The primary use case is spinning up lab VMs. We can spin up several hundred VMs for students to work with, which could be Windows-based or Linux-based. It's about creating these VMs, then destroying them as soon as they are done. So, there is a lot of creation and destruction. We also spin up VM environments as well. On the vSphere 6.7 product, the optimization is great. The older versions, 6.0 and 6.5 were sluggish. When your spinning and destroying things, it's a big deal to have higher performance.
How has it helped my organization?
We don't do a lot with the encryption, but we do have the ability to encrypt something if we send it offsite. We have multiple locations, so we can encrypt our VMs, if necessary. However, we don't have a big need for it, but it's nice that it's there.
Our mission critical is our classroom. If we have college students who can't work, they paid to be there, and are paying us for the environment. Therefore, if we're down for a day, that's a real problem. Given that people have a choice of where they can go for education, we have to be always available. Otherwise, they will go next door. For us, it's about a student's success and you can only do that if you're up and running.
What is most valuable?
- A big feature for us was Quick Boot. You don't have to wait for the host to do a recheck on memory. You do an upgrade, and it's not a 10-minute reboot cycle. You can bring your host online and offline.
- Database optimization. They did a lot in enhancing the performance. They took down the memory utilization and increased what it brought in. You see more responsiveness, especially now with having the HTML5 client. It feels like a much snappier product.
The biggest feature that everybody wanted was the HTML5 client. This has made everything native where you're able to surf through it. Going into our web page, you're no longer refreshing it. It feels more like an enterprise product now. With Adobe Flash, it didn't feel that way.
What needs improvement?
The biggest thing to improve is to have more self-service in the portals. I would like to receive more help through the web interface.
I would like to see continual improvements of the client. It doesn't need to go much larger for support on the number of VMs or its size, because there are pretty high limits already. However, it needs a bit more in the management and the reporting aspect. We have to get a third-party for that. It would be great if it was a bit more integrated.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability has been good since the 6.0 days. The biggest issue with stability is the SSO. That is still an issue as far as integrating it with Active Directory, and any large scale of it. That is still a work in progress. However, the core stability aspect of it has been there and hasn't changed. This has just gotten better.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I have no issues with scalability. As large as we have wanted to go with as many VMs, we have never had an issue pushing its limits.
The majority of the issues are truly integrating it into the Active Directory structures. This doesn't seem to be there yet.
How is customer service and technical support?
VMware tech support has always been good to us. Our biggest challenge is getting them the logs, but once they have them, the logs are so detailed that any possible issue usually is resolved within a few hours. So, it has always been a positive experience.
What was our ROI?
Given that we spin up and down hundreds of VMs, we physically couldn't do that with physical hardware. It would just be financially impossible. Having a virtualized infrastructure and being able to bring up Windows, Linux, and VMware within a virtualized environment brings more technology into the classroom. Without it, we couldn't do what we do.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
There wasn't a short list. It was the only solution. It's the only thing that made financial sense as far as being able to do what we needed it to do. Nobody out there had it.
What other advice do I have?
I would rate it as a nine out of ten.
Go big with your hardware. You have to be willing to invest in the hardware platform. Storage is key. Make sure you have enough performance with it. When you're looking at the actual overall product, make sure you understand what third party offerings you need to put in. It could be something from VMware or one of the partners, but it's going to be more that just the VMware Suite. There will be one or two things you need to add to it. Specifically, monitoring or reporting will be the big draws.
I don't have a percentage for the performance boost of the apps. However, there is noticeably different speed of how the database is working and how you move through the client. Everything is a bit more responsive. Part of that was getting rid of the flash client as well. We're seeing an overall general performance increase in everything we do, whether it's the monitoring aspect or deploying.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.