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Opinion: Netapp & vSphere 4.1 – Where’s the Beef?

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Yesterday’s announcements on vSphere 4.1 was amazing in a number of respects.  Firstly the blogging community were falling over themselves to make announcements on the new release.  I expect there was a well organised PR & marketing push behind the scenes to get so many people talking about the technology from midnight onwards.  Secondly, there was a slew of announcements from storage vendors, none more vocal than Netapp, who have turned their file storage device into a serendipidous all encompassing virtualisation friendly unified storage server.

However all is not what it seems with Netapp’s announcements.  In line with many vendors, Netapp do not currently support the VAAI features in the current code release.  Worse than that, VAAI isn’t currently supported on NFS at all.  So Netapp, bearing in mind you’ve been publishing demo videos of VAAI in action for nearly 12 months, I have to ask where’s the beef?

  • If VAAI integration has been around for so long, why wasn’t it integrated into Data ONTAP 8.0?
  • Why will VAAI not be supported in cluster mode, only “legacy mode”?
  • If you’re such a strong VMware partner, why have you not managed to get NFS support in release 1 of VAAI?

There seems to be a trend towards pre-announcement of hardware and software features from vendors that are well ahead of when they will actually be made available.  This is now being bolstered by a co-ordinated effort to get the blogging community, hired or not to release their tie stories.  We saw the first major evidence of this phenomenon with EMC and FASTv2; with vSphere 4.1 it goes on.

As a counter argument I’m sure I’ll get comments regarding “roadmaps” and “future strategy”.  That’s fine; but make sure that you’re announcing just that; not making product announcement for something I can’t buy or use.

What would be nice?  A return to old fashioned product release values – make a product release announcement when you can (a) support immediately (b) let upgrade immediately to support it.  Then I’ll think your announcements are worthwhile.

Update:  As per Greg Knieriemen’s comment, I’m adding a list of vendors I’m aware of that are announcing vSphere 4.1 VAAI support.  Here is the list.

  • EMC – Symmetrix support from 4Q2010 with next release of Enginuity
  • EMC – CLARiiON support with FLARE30 – GA release “any day now” (quote: Chad Sakac)
  • Netapp – Supported in DATA Ontap 8.0.1 7-mode – due 4Q2010
  • 3Par – Supported in next release of InServ software – due September 2010
  • Dell/Equallogic – no official announcments received or identified
  • Hitachi Data Systems – Support for AMS announced – no specific dates

If you have any further updates, let me know.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Greg Knieriemen

    Nice post Chris – I’d also be interested in seeing a list of vendors that do support VAAI features.

  • admin

    Greg, good point. I’ll amend the post to reflect the current support of major vendors.


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