I have liked Mike Laverick’s RTFM site for a long time. Many congratulations to him for his blog to be acquired by TechTarget and his recent hiring by VMWare. It takes a lot of learning and effort to get to the point where Mike is and it is entirely due to his efforts.
Besides the point ‘RTFM’ itself, it is important to know why there is so much focus on it. With virtualization technologies like VMWare it is very easy to install and configure environments and you don’t really need the manual to be honest. But when you perform design and architecture in an IT environment it is very important to follow best practices. Again there is a qualification here – smaller environments can sometimes remain incorrectly designed and the flaws won’t show up because the environment is not complex, but as complexity increases the gaps start appearing and become wider and wider. That’s when specialists or consultants can come in and shout (in a hushed voice to themselves) – RTFM. Best practices are nothing but a set of values and processes that need to be taken into consideration.
That was enough talking so let’s get right down to the point with some practical examples.
I recently got a question from someone on multipathing configuration for software iSCSI. They were concerned at how it worked and were not able to provide a confident answer back to their management. I pointed them to the manual at this URL which on page 9 clearly states there is a new UI for the same feature that was only available via CLI in versions earlier than ESXi 5.0. This is not too complex of an effort – I did not get enlightened about this on my own but during one of my queries on iSCSI storage I had stumbled across this information in a VMWare whitepaper (linked above).
Similar to this I have had countless situations which I had to resolve and one that comes to my mind is the snapshot CID chain issue that was very popular in environments that used their datastores almost to max capacity and had issues with snapshot chains primarily because earlier versions of VMWare ESX were not stable enough to handle snapshots.
All in all – the focus is just to encourage all VMWare professionals to get to read the tech requirements and make themselves aware prior to them deploying system architectures or making changes to something that is already stable.