VMWare ESXi, battle tested hypervisor marred by questionable design choices.
Updated May 27, 2016

VMWare ESXi, battle tested hypervisor marred by questionable design choices.

Colby Shores | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with VMware ESXi

We use VMware ESXi as our primary hypervisor to host our web architecture. Before we implemented VMware, we had previously provisioned machines by installing Linux on bare metal. This task used to to take days and limited the amount of machines we could create due to the size of the physical hardware. Before VMware ESXi we our machines contained multiple tasks which from an administration perspective was a nightmare. It wasn't clear how systems where configured or what their tasks where. In order to become more agile as a company, we adopted VMware to virtualize our infrastructure.
  • Virtualization allows us to create machines that handle specific tasks rather than a bare metal OS that uses the entire hardware; on bare metal, an admin has to use the machine to handle multiple tasks which is confusing to administrate.
  • VMware is fantastic at migrating systems between hosts. This is important to distribute load and for consideration in case of hardware failure.
  • VMware makes automation a snap, we currently use puppet & kickstart for our automation software. Virtualization allows us to be agile in creating systems and destroying them. Before VMware we had to provision machines by hand which is costly in labor costs.
  • VMware has some exciting verticals that integrate well with its hypervisor, VSan comes to mind which helped us address our need for resiliency in case of a hardware fault.
  • VMWare ESXi 5.0 introduced a Adobe Flash based web interface as it's primary way of interfacing with the hypervisor and it was near unusable when it first launched; sluggish and buggy. VMWare ESXi 6 is a vast improvement over 5.0, however it is still very sluggish and buggy(especially when logging in to the interface). Another thing that concerns me as a Linux DevOps engineer, since it is using Flash, the version of Flash it requires is not even supported on Linux Chrome anymore with no future upgrade path!
  • VMware really needs to scrap the entire code base for the web interface, its an abomination and rebuild it in HTML5. This is the primary reason why I give VMWare ESXi a 7.
  • VMWare ESXi's verticals are also one of its faults. Since their products are completely interoperable with each other, it makes it difficult to switch to another platform in the future. Furthermore, some of the other compelling open source solutions such as Ceph(as opposed to VSan) are unsupported as a back end for VMWare.
  • We have servers between Intel and AMD, there is an artificial limitation VMWare has imposed that prohibits live migration between VMWare hosts between different CPU types.
  • VMWare ESXi us unable to add additional CPU or memory to live systems while other competing hypervisors are able to.
  • As an early adopter of VMWare, we have see a tremendous ROI in our ability to be agile in our deployments
  • VMWare has made our backup simple for areas of our business not covered under our Snap Mirror; things such as our Synology as we use the API to backup VMDKs regularly. This is priceless to us.
  • VMWare has simplified the organization of machine roles which has cut down on man hour required to administrate our systems.
We have adopted Nutanix Acropolis as a replacement for our NetApp and a long term replacement for VMWare. VMWare will be interoperable with Nutanix in the near future as a datastore to allow us to slowly migrate to Acropolis or continue to utilize VMWare. VMWare is definitely more full featured than Acropolis however there are some things that are not necessary in VMWare(such as VSan) that are completely built in to Nutanix by design. The Nutanix web interface however is much more responsive.
VMWare is well suited for a mid sized company that absolutely has to have technical support however other most other hypervisors based on KVM have caught up and in many cases surpassed VMWare's offerings in performance and affordability. I also can't recommend VMWare ESXi in it's current state with the web client the way it is from a Linux administration perspective.

VMware ESXi Feature Ratings

Virtual machine automated provisioning
Management console
Live virtual machine backup
Live virtual machine migration
Hypervisor-level security