Before I joined VMware in late 2018 I was a VMware customer for over 15 years. One of the many things I looked forward to was participating in the vSphere Beta Program. It was a chance to see new features and offer feedback to the product managers and engineering teams more directly. It also helped me prepare for upgrading my environments. Every new release of vSphere has features aimed at helping a vSphere Admin do their job better, faster, and with less overhead & hassle, so it always made sense to thoughtfully upgrade after some testing with the released product.
One of the reasons I have always liked VMware, as a company, is that constructive feedback is always appreciated. The truth about software companies, whether it is VMware or others, is that few of the people involved in the development of the products see the products like a true vSphere Admin does. vSphere Admins are in the trenches, dealing with applications and users and compliance auditors and ancient storage arrays and the whole mess. It is very important that we ask them what they think, and we encourage them to always tell us the truth. Now that vSphere 7 has been released we did just that, asking people in the beta program to answer some questions.
Are you likely to upgrade to the latest version?
Whoa. From my perspective the vSphere 7 beta was one of the most stable ones I have run in my many years, but it is stunning to see 285 of 307 vSphere Admins answer “yes” to the question of whether they’d upgrade to it. Even more so, it is not the typical bell curve you’d see, as 252 of those responses were enthusiastic yes. Of course, a survey is one thing, real life will be different, especially with COVID19. Still, the beta community tends to be somewhat vocal, and the respondents volunteered to complete the survey, so if people were angry or disappointed I would expect them to speak up like they usually do.
Let’s look at what they said when asked WHY they’d upgrade.
What is the top feature worth upgrading for?
The results here are a real “who’s who” of vSphere 7 features. No question here that people are looking forward to the lifecycle management, upgrade planning, and Kubernetes features in vSphere 7. I really appreciate the enthusiasm from the “ALL OF THEM” respondents, too. Not everybody answered this question, which is typical for a freeform text field in a survey, though. To gauge whether the positive response is real I read through the other comment fields, and while some folks had a few issues it appears most were resolved with beta refreshes. That’s a very positive thing by itself!
It’s worth mentioning that the vSphere Technical Marketing team is blogging about all of these features through May, with deeper dives through the summer, if you want to learn more. And if you want to be part of ongoing beta programs here at VMware please reach out to your account teams who can help you set that up.
I think the data speaks for itself, but if there is a conclusion to be made it is that vSphere 7 is a solid release. Should you upgrade to it? Yes, but thoughtfully. It is very important to make sure that all the components in your environment, like backup systems, hardware, storage, and so on are compatible. The VMware Compatibility Guide is a great tool for determining hardware readiness, and if your servers aren’t on there yet ask your vendors, as they are the ones that do the testing.
In the meantime you can do what the VMware Hands-on Labs do and run vSphere 7 nested inside another vSphere environment. Did you know you can set the guest OS type to ESXi, and that ESXi has VMware Tools? While it isn’t officially supported, it’s great for testing at any time, especially since you can take a snapshot of the environment and reset it if you do something bad to it. It’s a very good way to practice the upgrade process to develop confidence in it.
Don’t forget the VMware Test Drive, either. Test Drive is a great way to experience quite a few VMware products in an environment that’s already configured.
As always, thank you for being our customers. This whole post is about feedback, and we mean it when we say that if you have some please let us know.
(Thank you to Liz Wageck & Kristine Andersson for the data and work with the beta community)
We are excited about vSphere 7 and what it means for our customers and the future. Watch the vSphere 7 Launch Event replay, an event designed for vSphere Admins, hosted by theCUBE. We will continue posting new technical and product information about vSphere 7 and vSphere with Kubernetes Monday through Thursdays into May 2020. Join us by following the blog directly using the RSS feed, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Thank you, and please stay safe.