vSphere Review
As an admin, virtualization has made my work life far simpler on a day to day basis, but sometimes we have issues where we need to contact tech support.


Valuable Features

From the admin perspective, the centralized management/administration of the environment. Additionally, a much smaller data center footprint, streamlined machine deployments and flexible resource sharing rank right up there.

Improvements to My Organization

It is hugely more efficient for daily monitoring, patching and upgrades and deploying new machines. With more than 100 servers we would have a couple of full time folks just for patching! Server reboots during business hours are far less disruptive to the end users. We are also in the midst of a large e-commerce project and vSphere has allowed us a ton of flexibility with development and test environments that we wouldn’t have in a physical environment. A lab environment that very closely mirrors production was far easier to design and build than the physical lab we had been struggling with for years.

Room for Improvement

We are a small shop but still pay the big bucks for licensing vSphere products in order to gain the features that fit our goals.

I'm looking forward to a review of VMTools updates in vSphere 6, which have hopefully been revamped. We currently have a somewhat dated change process so tools updates are hampered by a process that doesn't quite fit and requires more after hours work that is necessary.

Use of Solution

We implemented vSphere 4.1 in October 2010 and upgraded to 5.1 in June 2013, then to 5.5 in June 2014. We are beginning to review vSphere 6. Alongside vSphere, we also use ESXi 5.5.0.2718055, and vCenter 5.5.0.2646482.

Deployment Issues

No – the original deployment went very smoothly with vendor assistance. Upgrades since have been smooth as well. We did a lot of homework before embarking on any upgrades.

Stability Issues

No. The virtual environment has remained incredibly stable over the five years since the original deployment.

Scalability Issues

No. The original deployment consisted of virtualizing 32 machines. We now have over 100 VM’s.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

We periodically have regional reps reach out but they don’t seem to know much about our environment. When we call in, for whatever reason, the folks answering phones are very polite, respectful and efficient at directing our calls.

Technical Support:

Periodically we have an issue where we have to call in to tech support, but many times are able to Google the issue and find an answer on VMware’s site. When we do have to call though, tech support has been great to us. They definitely stick with an issue until we say it’s resolved.

Previous Solutions

No, we moved from a completely physical environment.

Initial Setup

A little of both. It was complex because we didn’t know a lot about it but being involved in the setup with a vendor proved itself to be pretty straightforward.

Implementation Team

We implemented with a CDW team since we hadn’t done any virtualization. They were extremely knowledgeable regarding not only VMware but Cisco, Microsoft and Linux which helped us design an infrastructure that suited our needs well at the time.

Other Solutions Considered

We had one Citrix server at the time and I believe we did a very high level evaluation of Xenserver, but VMware was more in line with our virtualization goals.

Other Advice

Do your homework so you learn as much as you can about virtualization concepts as there are many nuances that are quite different from the physical counterparts. It’s easy to get an ESXi host stood up and install a vCenter management server – then you decide to stand up a “few” VM’s and when you figure out how easy that is, you are off and running. But what about your network configuration and HA or DRS to name a few. It’s way easier to learn the concepts ahead of time than to have to research a bunch of little issues after the fact. Google VMware and/or vSphere and have at it!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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