What do you like best?
There is a lot that I like about VMware vSphere. It is a very capable server virtualization platform. In the past, IT Departments struggled with server sprawl. Every server-based application was supposed to run on its own server. With vSphere, you can run multiple virtual servers on a single, physical computer, even if the virtual servers are running different operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Linux. vSphere lets you take snapshots of the virtual servers when needed to allow the option for rolling back to a previous state (helpful for things like testing out patches without having to make the change permanent). vSphere also allows you to create templates of of virtual servers that can be used to create new virtual servers pre-configured and patched. You can also clone active virtual servers which is useful when you are looking to upgrade an application and need to test it while still maintaining the active production environment. With add-ons such as vCenter, you can further extend the capabilities to include automated fail-over of virtual servers in the event of a host failure. You can also migrate live, active virtual servers from one host computer to another without impacting users. I could go on and on about the things I like about vSphere. It sits at the heart of my data center and I have designed our data center around it.
What do you dislike?
Not much. The licensing can be a bit confusing at times. The product is available in different tiers, such as Essentials, Standard and Enterprise Plus. As you move up from the bottom tier, additional features are added. You need to understand the features at each tier to determine which product you need.
Recommendations to others considering the product
I have used Citrix Xenserver and Hyper-V as well. I strongly prefer vSphere over them both. Much better interface. VMware regularly releases improvements that make make it more flexible, more powerful, and easier to manage. Over there years they have added the ability to use live migration to virtual servers and virtual disks. In the x86 world, VMware invented server virtualization and they continue to stay ahead of all the other companies, including Microsoft. VMware vSphere is just awesome. It works well. It is rock solid. And it makes deploying, supporting, and managing the server environment so much easier and better.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
We have realized so many benefits from our use of vSphere. We have eliminated many physical computers and have been able to consolidate onto a smaller number of more powerful, expandable computers. We are able to have a very usable test environment without having to dedicate additional expensive hardware. We also have an improved backup and disaster recovery design since we can back up the full virtual servers that can be run anywhere we need. We are able to bring down physical computers by live migration of the hosted virtual servers to other computers, reducing the amount of weekend/off-hours work.
We now have a highly expandable environment where we can easily add more memory or disk space to virtual servers as needed.
We have even been able to virtualize existing servers that were running on touchy, older software and move it to the virtualization environment so that it was no longer running on risky, older hardware. Plus, because it is now running on newer, faster hardware the application can run faster.