vRealize Network Insight Review

The ability to use the natural language query and see the visualization can be quickly intuitive

What is our primary use case?

We are able to analyze application flows through the network.

It is performing very well. It allows us to do a quick analysis of protocols, applications, and network pathing for our customers, then it has them analyze their needs for working application availability.

How has it helped my organization?

It's very hard to find anything that works this well.

There are two different benefits that we derive out of the tool:

  1. The assessment-based approach: When we go in to do services work or we are trying to understand sizing, what we need to deploy from an NSX perspective is an assessment tool. This helps us be very narrow and specific-focused. It allows us to assess and give quotes back very quickly. 
  2. We use it in our services practice. Before we go and do any type of NSX services engagement, we use this tool on the customer's site to look at the environment and figure out some of our scoping and how we will scope our services. It allows us to be more efficient and pinpoint around the use case and actual solution.

What is most valuable?

The number one most valuable feature is the visualization of the network flows; being able to see them in a very rich, visual way is the most impactful part of it. We use it to monitor network flows in a couple different ways. We use it as an assessment tool to go into customers and look at network flows, then figure out where the applications are talking to each other, how they're talking to each other, what protocols they're speaking on, and what other servers they're connected to from the network. This is very valuable for helping us either plan application migrations or be able to figure out things like distributing firewall rules, etc., so we can easily be able to identify and distribute the firewall within the product, which is primarily what its designed to assist with.

The second most important thing is the segregation of all the different protocols which are in the ports. We are able to identify and analyze each one of these protocols. This is extremely useful when we are talking about applications moving from on-premise to cloud.

It is very user-friendly and intuitive, especially given some of the natural language queries that it allows for. This is one of the benefits of the tool and the dashboarding which comes with the visualization of it. The ability to use the natural language query and see the visualization is quickly intuitive, and it works very well.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more interoperability on the firewall and low balancer sides.

I like that you can integrate in Palo Alto networks. There is Cisco switching in there as well. We can see the actual path tracing through these products. I would like to add in there any other integrations from a services perspective, such as Big-IP F5 and some other APIs. Palo Alto has a little bit of an advantage, which is fine, but it would be great to see a little bit more integration, especially on the GUI side when we are tracking about some of that pack and flow. It would be great to be able to see other vendors be integrated into the product as well.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have never experienced any downtime with this product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We typically have been using it in medium-sized businesses, so we haven't scaled it out to thousands. We have small customers and a couple customers who we do larger amounts in the thousands. However, for us, it's in the hundreds VMs and/or hosts, and we have had no issues at that level. We have been able to scale horizontally and vertically.

It's controller-based and VM-based. It takes a couple different VMs to run it, and it seems to be covering all the scale that we need.

How is customer service and technical support?

We use our channel resources. Therefore, we have Channel Sales Engineers and Core SEs, then we also have NSX Channel SEs. If we run into problems, and things are not working right or we are getting a display that we're not familiar with, we typically use our resources. Thus, we don't typically call into the general VMware support.

How was the initial setup?

We have an assessments team that we use for the assessments. If we are doing a no-fee assessment when we are installing, we have a team who will do this and help the customer run it for 30 days for a trial run. 

We typically set it up ourselves from an assessment perspective, then when we do services delivery, we typically will do that as part of our service. We will bake that in to whenever we do an NSX engagement, and we will always do at least a vRNI assessment. Then, this helps us be able to sell that product to them as well. When they see the visualization and the ease in which you can monitor the environment, we typically we try to sell vRNI in addition to NSX.

What about the implementation team?

It depends on the technical level of the customers who we are working with. Some customers are very comfortable dropping in OVAs and VMs. It's fairly straightforward for us to do that. We typically include this as part of our vRNI service.

What was our ROI?

The solution has helped us to reduce time, increase performance, reduce costs, and even easily manage networks. We are probably seeing 10 to 20 percent labor savings because we are able to be very specific and focused on what we want to do. It ends up saving the customer money and makes us be more efficient on our cost deliveries.

We are a managed service provider so we spend a lot of time helping customers transition into the cloud. Application and rationalization are critical, so having this tool allows us to have another tool in our toolkit. This tool is critical because from a VMware perspective, it's really the only tool that does application rationalization. It gives us rich feedback that we need. We help customers move workloads to the right cloud. It's invaluable for us because it gives us that rich data to help us be successful. 

It reduces costs. It takes something that may be challenging and makes it more usable and visual by being able to bring in tools, seeing what their impact is, such as microsegmentation and application rationalization, and seeing it quickly.

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

It seems like it is fairly competitively priced. We are able to do fairly well with selling it. It seems well-priced, and we're able to do very well with the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We use a couple different tools, like RightScale, for application rationalization. Obviously, it's very challenging to get data out of a virtualized environment. vRNI does it better than anything we've used in the past. This is the biggest differentiator over other tools that we have been using. Now, we use vRNI along with other application analysis tools that we use in other practices within our company. We have been able to essentially add a lot of value using this tool with other practices and offerings that we do around application rationalization.

What other advice do I have?

We typically just deploy the latest version that we have, and that's it. We don't go back and do upgrades. Either the customers are doing that themselves or we don't have a specific service that does that. 

This is a must have product if you're a very big gamma customer. You have to have a way to analyze how networking is slowing through your environment.

We used to have the 1000V when we had Cisco for our Cisco customers, and we could use some of that solution, but there is not really any other tool that will provide the type of fidelity and richness of beta that you will need from your VMware environment regardless of whether you're deploying NSX or not, giving you that rich visualization of what's happening in the network layer and what's happening with the application layer within that networking layer in VMware. This is the only tool that you can obtain this level of richness from it.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.

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