The Virtualization Room

Feb 25 2008   12:27PM GMT

Review: VMware’s Storage/SAN Compatibility Guide for ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i

Joseph Foran Profile: Joe Foran

VMware documentation has traditionally been great — it provides useful how-to and compatibility information, and the plain truth in quick-to-read documents with accurate charts, and the information is kept current. Usually the documentation is even written in such a way that you can get a couple of chuckles.

That said, I was sorely disappointed with the content in the latest Storage/SAN Compatibility Guide for 3.5. I’ll give credit where credit is due, however, and VMware is clearly telling the truth when they say the following right in the introduction:

You will note that this guide is sparsely populated at present. The reason for this is that the storage arrays require re-cerfitification for ESX Server 3.5 and ESX Server 3i, and while many re-certifications are in process or planned, relatively few have been completed to date.

That’s the absolute truth. I suppose the reason I’m so disappointed with this document has little to do with the document itself. Having upgraded to 3.5 in my own shop, replacing 2.5, VMware Server 1.0, and even a GSX box, I’m a bit miffed in general about some of the smaller bugs, documentation omissions, and oddities of the product, but to see such a sparse storage compatibility document is a big disappointment.

Thankfully, my department isn’t off-list, but I have private-practice customers who are. Overall, the document gets six pokers. It’s an easy read, it’s informative and it’s truthful (good for around two pokers each).

What it lacks is content, and that, I have a feeling, was more due to pressure to get a big product release out during the IPO period and first year of trading to keep Wall Street happy. At the risk of getting onto my soapbox for a minute, the fact that VMware has to admit to sparsity in their documentation is brutal — it shows the potential beginnings of a corporate shift away from product focus and onto market focus. While some may argue that market focus is good for business, innovation and the economy, I’m not one of them — I’m all in favor of doing away with quarterly reporting, focusing on the long-term value of public companies and letting the day traders and short sellers eat their own cooking.

I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, and that there were other reasons for putting out a product without first recertifying the MOST important hardware involved in the underlying infrastructure. I’ve been to ex-parent and current majority stakeholder EMC’s lab — in my F500 days I got the grand tour because we bought some very expensive SAN gear, installation and support services. It’s huge. It has everything in it, from mainframes to micros, blades to whiteboxes. I know VMware’s own labs are no small affair either (though I’m still waiting on an invite to go there — which might make a good article if it ever happens).

I just don’t see why such a successful, independently minded, historically thorough company would, simply put, goof it up by not dedicating enough resources to recertifying products.

So six pokers and a soapbox admonition it is.

Can I get a little help getting down from my high horse, please? It’s a bit drafty up here.

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