What is our primary use case?
The primary use case is to save us a lot of money. Really, the primary use case is to be flexible, to be scalable, to be agile, as the company changes. As a non-profit, we really change often. New programs come in every day. vSphere gives us the ability to be flexible The mission-critical apps we use it for include Exchange, SQL, Active Directory, document management systems. We use it for everything.
While we haven't seen a performance boost for these apps, they're flexible. That's really what it's about. I'm still learning how to make it boost performance.
We haven't used any of the built-in security features.
How has it helped my organization?
It saves us a lot of money.
What is most valuable?
VMotion is the biggest feature. It gives us the ability to move things on the fly. That's it.
What needs improvement?
I do not find it to be simple and efficient to manage. The tools, the interface to manage it, are a pain. In the latest version, they moved us to web-only, the Web Client and it's terrible. It's slow. It crashes. It's annoying. I used the Web Client in the older version and was happy. I would go back to the regular thick client but I don't have that option anymore, so I am always fighting it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The solution itself is really stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability is insane. It's great.
Which solutions did we use previously?
We were all physical and it wasn't scalable. Every time they came to me and said that they wanted to start a new project with a new piece of software, I had to buy hardware for it. One day we looked at it. Quick, funny story: big presentation to the Board. Spent an hour explaining what virtualization was. I said, "Okay. I can do this by spending less over the next five years and we've already budgeted more." And the Chief Financial Officer looked at me and said, "Why did you just waste our last hour? If it's going to cost us less, then just do it." Why didn't you start with that? Way to bury the lead!"
It was a no-brainer to move.
The most important criteria when selecting a vendor is support, absolutely. US-based support that doesn't pass the buck, that takes ownership of a situation and deals with it.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was straightforward. I built the whole thing myself, without knowing anything about VMware to begin with, just learning it as I went.
What was our ROI?
Our ROI is huge. We put, in hardware and software, probably $80,000 dollars into the solution and have never spent another penny in the last five years, other than for support. Compare that to a budget of $30,000 a year, we'd be at $150,000 in those five years. So, the return on investment is huge.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
For our initial look into vSphere versus others, we started with Cisco's version of virtualization. It was cool. It was free. But it was a pain. It didn't scale. When I started looking at the software we wanted to run on it, nobody supported it. That made the decision.
What other advice do I have?
In terms of advice to a colleague, I'm giving it every day. I take the guy out to lunch to beat him up with vSphere. I've got a buddy who is a Hyper-V guy. He's says, "But it's free," and I keep saying, "Well, you get what you pay for." He says, "But it never gives me any problems." I say, "Then why are you calling me every week asking me why Exchange is doing stupid things? I don't have those problems and I run exactly the same version you do."
It's stable. It just works. I don't have to think about it.
Some of the new stuff that's coming out is pretty exciting, as we start thinking of moving to the cloud. But, as a non-profit, at this point, it doesn't make sense to do so, yet. But as we move to the cloud, some of the new stuff they talked about yesterday, here at VMworld 2018, is really going to help us do that.
I give vSphere an eight out of ten because of the web interface. It would be a ten otherwise.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.