VMware vSphere Review

Has Distributed vSwitches to better manage networking across large infrastructures

What is our primary use case?

I'm a Solutions Architect. I advise clients on how to leverage VMware products to provide resiliency in the face of disruptive events. VMware's platform is the most robust for running VMs upon, and it also has the most mature technology. Therefore, it is much more reliable and predictable, and those are the key characteristics needed to ensure a successful business continuity solution. Bleeding edge newcomers have yet to prove themselves production worthy compared to VMware's long history of success.

How has it helped my organization?

Portability of infrastructure is the greatest asset of any virtualization platform. By using VMware solutions, there is no lock-in with a particular hardware vendor for compute, network, or storage needs. Likewise, the ability to run various guest operating systems further amplifies that flexibility. The overwhelming majority of my clients are able to use VMware's solutions for 100 percent of their software application needs. Finally, the ability of a running VM to be quickly relocated to another hypervisor or launched at another site via replicated storage greatly reduces downtime.

What is most valuable?

  • Storage vMotion to safely migrate VMs to other hypervisors, storage solutions and sites while the VM is still running. 
  • Distributed vSwitches to better manage networking across large infrastructures. 
  • vRealize for operations management and automation to remove human error from complex tasks and enable more efficient processes and business activities. 
  • The VCSA appliance provides a great interface for most management tasks. 

In general, the combination of VMware products that compose or plug into vSphere enable most organizations to better prepare for disruptive events.

What needs improvement?

The ability to run ARM based VMs on an x86 platform for testing purposes. With the growing use of SBCs running on ARM architectures for IoT devices, it would be very useful if developers could build and deploy VMs running operating systems like Raspbian used on Raspberry Pi devices on their existing x86 ESXi environments. Even if this is not possible through some form of emulation, the ability to add ARM hypervisors to vSphere environments would be very useful. This will enable more rapid development cycles for customers just getting started with IoT but already existing vSphere users. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Since 1999 when they only made Workstation.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used Hyper-V, AHV, VirtualBox and KVM solutions. Each of these solutions has merits, but none of them are as flexible and reliable as VMware solutions. They are all rapidly improving, but are not being adopted widely enough to rival vSphere's dominance. I rarely advise clients to switch away from a VMware based solution, because of the long history of success and reliability that comes with it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Do not buy based on price alone. Many of my customers chose the lowest cost option only to discover that the additional funds needed to access even a few more features would have been money well spent. Likewise, if you are going to spend more money on additional features, then have a plan to actually deploy and integrate those features into your infrastructure. Many customers never take full advantage of the many features that they are paying for and that can be avoided by being proactive in developing your overall vision for the infrastructure.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I am constantly evaluating many solutions. I also regularly re-evaluate other solutions. The competition is improving, and VMware has done a great job improving as well.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are a VMware reseller.
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