As part of my role I very often review design documents that other consultants/architect have written, and not only those of VMware employees but also from external people. On top of that of course I also see a lot of VCDX application packages pass by. Something struck me the other day when I was doing the 3rd review in just a couple of hours and I started thinking about the designs I had reviewed so far and noticed there was a common theme.

Before I get started I want to make sure everyone understands that I believe there’s a very strong value to using standardized templates / frameworks. So don’t misinterpreted this article.

I know that many of you are consultants/architects and leverage the Plan & Design kit that VMware PSO created or have an internally developed template that might or might not be based on this P&D Kit. (If your a VMware Partners and wonder what this kit is, log in to the partner portal and look around!) The Plan & Design kit is basically a template, although the hot word these days is framework, that lays out the foundation for a vSphere 4.x design. I guess “framework” or “template” already reveals how it should be used but lately I have been noticing, and yes even VCDX submissions, that people are trying to cut corners and skip sections or use the defaults. I guess by now most of you are thinking “well that doesn’t apply to me”, but lets be honest here when you use the same template for years you start to get lazy. I know I do.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the template and adopting the best practices mentioned in this template, this only goes when they are used in the right context. The framework that VMware for instance provides contains many examples of how you could implement something, and the ones provided are usually the best practice. That doesn’t necessarily mean though that this best practice meets your customer’s requirement or can be used based on the constraints this environment/customer has. Just to give an example of something that I see in 90% of the designs I review:

  • Max amount of VMs per datastore 15
  • Datastore size 500GB
  • Justification: To reduce SCSI reservations

This used to be a best practice and probably a very valid design decision in most cases. However over the last 3 version the locking mechanism has been severely improved. On top of that even more recently VAAI was introduced and the risks were reduced because of that. Along the way the number 15 got bumped up to 20-25, depending on the workload and the RTO. Based on those technology changes your best practice and template should have been updated, or at a minimum explain what the “new” reason is for sticking with these values.

Every single time you write that new design challenge your decisions, go over these best practices and make sure they still apply. Every time a new version of the product is released validate the best practices and standardized design decisions and change them accordingly to benefit from these features.

http://www.yellow-bricks.com/2011/02/02/using-the-vsphere-plan-design-kit/