VMware vSphere Review

We can do VM encryption on the fly, adhere to PCI DSS, and pass our audit without issue


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What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for the product is, we use it as our core infrastructure to power all of our servers as well as any kind of application that runs tolling for the region.

For mission-critical applications that we use this for, it's mostly for proprietary applications that were specifically built to run tolling. So all of our tolling applications run on vSphere 6.7.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of a performance boost, we have seen about a 10 percent boost; not by much. Our workloads aren't CPU or memory-intensive, they're more idle-intensive with storage.

The solution has improved our organization in terms of compliance. In the past, we struggled with VM encryption. We couldn't encrypt the virtual machines with older versions of vSphere without some kind of third-party tool. Now, with 6.7, it's all in the application itself, in vSphere. We no longer have to procure additional products to meet that requirement. We can just do it on the fly, and pass our audit with no issues.

In terms of managing it, it's a lot simpler now with the vSphere HTML5 client. With the phase-out of the Flash client, which everyone doesn't like, it allows us as administrators to do our jobs far more efficiently than it did with the Flash client.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature would be enhanced, what we call, Linked Mode to link our disaster recovery site to our primary site across different vCenters, without being required to be broken apart. Meaning, we have identity management and the actual vCenter servers split. We can actually do embedded now, thanks to vSphere 6.7.

For the security features for vSphere 6.7, VM encryption was really critical because we're required to protect virtual machines. We have to adhere to PCI DSS for credit card protection. So the VM encryption was very critical to passing our audit.

What needs improvement?

There is definitely room for improvement and that improvement should be in the licensing and the simplicity of procuring additional licenses or additional VMware products. Right now, it's very complex.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability for vSphere 6.7 has been a little rocky at times compared to 6.5, but I believe that's because it's a very new product. With updates later, I think it will stabilize out.

We have especially had an issue with our backup software communicating with vSphere 6.7, but that's been remediated so that has kind of gone away. Initially, it was a little rough, but now it's smoothing out.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability for vSphere 6.7 has been a major enhancement compared to 6.5. That is because of the technical features they've added that allow you to scale further away from your primary data center, such as vMotion over long distance, etc. It's made things better for us.

How is customer service and technical support?

Only for vSphere 6.5 did we use tech support. We have yet to need tech support for 6.7, but I can't imagine it would be any different than 6.5. Any tech support, period, with vSphere, I have never had an issue. Even when it was a really strange issue, we've always resolved the problem.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved with this design, the procurement, the deployment, and the management.
In terms of complexity, it was very complex for the licensing aspect. That's because in 6.7 it's changed, compared to what I procured years ago with 6.5 and 5.5. It has gotten a little bit more complex, but it's easier once you do it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Nobody else was on our short-list. Hyper-V had come up because another IT office in our agency does use Hyper-V, but for mission-critical applications that are powering an operation, my opinion was "vSphere-only" and my manager's opinion matched mine. So there really was no other option, it was just vSphere.

What other advice do I have?

We do use AWS, but not for VMware Cloud on AWS. We only use it for storage.

I'd give vSphere a nine out of ten. The only reason I give it a nine is because VMware has amped up how frequently they release new versions and that adds instability to a stable environment. But other than that, I would've given it a ten.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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