VMware vSphere Review

Allows us to run our critical business workloads at speed and keep them highly available


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What is our primary use case?

My primary use case for the product is testing Home Lab. I was involved in the early vSphere 6.7 beta. I wanted to see what the new features were, how it worked. I'm using it currently in my Home Lab for testing lots of the different products as a vSphere-base for vSAN, NSX, running the latest vCenter, etc.

Some of the critical workloads that I'm running in my vSphere environment are Exchange, SQL, various different application servers, and those have to be up and available at all times, and vSphere does that for us. It gives us High Availability, failover, vMotion capability for load balancing. It works great.

How has it helped my organization?

Since migrating over to vSphere, we're seeing a significant performance boost due to the fact that we've migrated over to an all-flash vSAN array. Previously we were running external storage SAN over fiber channel. We saw a significant increase, I would say at least a 50 percent increase, in our speeds due to our vSAN running on all-flash. It's been a huge improvement.

The way that vSphere increases our availability in our organization is that it allows us to run our critical business workloads, keep them highly-available, run them at speed, and easily scale when we need to.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features for me are a very easily scalable infrastructure. I can have a couple of hosts to do basic workloads. I can have a lot of hosts to do a lot of workloads. vSAN integrates my storage so I don't need an external storage SAN. I love having everything integrated in the same UI. The new HTML5 interface doesn't require any plugins anymore and it's super-fast. Really liking that change.

In terms of the built-in security features that I'm using, currently I am using vSAN Encryption, using an external KMS server, and it works great. It's pretty easy to set up, very easy, especially in the UI, to integrate that and get that set up.

The way that I find vSphere simple and easy to manage is that the interface is all laid out for you. You've got various different views based on what you want to do in the UI. You have your Hosts and Clusters view, if you're doing something where you need to manage at the cluster level. You can manage at the host level in there. If you're doing something very VM-specific or on a vApp level, you can go into the VM and Templates view. It's very easy to scale and use what you need to use.

What needs improvement?

An improvement could be allowing a "dark mode" for the interface. I think the HTML5 client is a little bit hard to read. It's all white. It's a little bit bright on the eyes. A lot of us IT guys view in the dark.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability in our vSphere environment has gone very well. We have never actually had an outage. Due to the HA failover capabilities of the cluster, the High Availability of vSAN, Distributed Resource Scheduler allowing you to basically vMotion VMs and balance your loads across all your clusters, it's been very highly available. We've never had an outage or an issue; never any kind of a data loss incident, even when we were running external storage as well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability works pretty well. You can start out at a couple of hosts, based on your business needs, your budget. That's probably the base recommendation I would start out at for having some of the DRS and HA failover capabilities. But if your business grows, you can easily add a host and a cluster and expand your capabilities on storage and compute. If you're running vSAN, you can run on the storage side, too.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have had several instances where I've had to use Global Support Services. They're always great. They are very knowledgeable. If they don't know the answer, they can easily escalate to another engineer and help you out and get the problem solved, usually pretty quickly.

How was the initial setup?

I was not initially involved in the vSphere setup at my current company; that predated my joining the company. But I've brought up the secondary environment and integrated vSAN at that company, and setup was straightforward. It's pretty easy to get everything set up and get things done. I've done that many times in production, and torn down and rebuilt the Home Lab many times. It's pretty straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

We do not currently use VMware Cloud on AWS.

If I had to rate vSphere from one to ten - version 6.7 - I would say right now it's probably about 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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