VMware Inc.'s vSphere 5.1 is chock-full of new features, but for the time being, compatibility with VMware View* isn't one of them.
This lack of support for all versions of VMware's flagship desktop virtualization platform came as a surprise to some customers, but most users and partners said it's expected and not a major problem -- as long as vSphere 5.1 adds View support soon.
"It could catch a customer off-guard if they aren't looking at it," said Dwayne Lessner, an infrastructure specialist at Husky Energy Inc., an energy company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. "You would think both new versions would work together, but that's not the way it is, and honestly, it's never been that way."
No timetable for vSphere 5.1 support of View
VMware is still in the process of certifying vSphere 5.1 against View, and it's unknown how long that will take. Until then, VMware View 5.1 customers should check the release notes and not upgrade to unsupported vSphere versions, said Rick Blythe, a customer liaison at VMware, in a blog post.
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VMware did not respond to a request for a compatibility time frame. The company should let customers know soon, said Dan Brinkmann, a solutions architect at a large value-added reseller and a VMware vExpert based in Denver. "Are we talking four weeks, two months or next year?" he asked. "If we are still talking about this in November, then I'll be concerned."
When VMware releases a new version of vSphere, it typically doesn't have compatibility support for products such as View, Site Recovery Manager or vCloud Director immediately, said Brian Knudston, a solutions architect at Vital Support Solutions, a VMware partner based in the Midwest. "This release was a bit confusing, however, because View was already at version 5.1 and because so many other products upgraded with support for vSphere 5.1 at the same time," he said.
'Not shocked' there's no vSphere 5.1 support for View
Husky Energy recently upgraded to View 5.1 and simultaneously to vSphere 5.0, which does support View. With approximately 800 servers, the company won't be upgrading to vSphere 5.1 anytime soon, Lessner said. "VMware has a fast development cycle, and most enterprises can't keep up with that," he said. By the time Husky Energy is ready to upgrade to vSphere 5.1, VMware will have worked out all the kinks, he added.
Ultimately, the incompatibility problem affects a "minority of a minority" of IT departments, Brinkmann said. Most organizations running View on vSphere probably aren't upgrading their servers to a hypervisor that just came out this week, he said.
Plus, VMware did inform customers about the incompatibility in a Knowledge Base article and other product documentation.
"Do I think View 5.1 and vSphere 5.1 should be compatible on the day of release for vSphere 5.1? Yes," Brinkmann said. "But I'm not shocked that the two aren't compatible."
IT shops that follow upgrade best practices should catch any incompatibility issues in a test environment before actually deploying vSphere 5.1, and View users that have upgraded already should have no problem rolling back to vSphere 5.0, Lessner said.
*Editor's note: Amongst a flurry of vSphere 5.1 patches late in October 2012, VMware added support for View 5.1.x. VMware admins must download either an updated ESXi 5.1 ISO image or ESXi510-201210001 from VMware's Patch Download Center. Get more information about the vSphere 5.1 patch for View 5 here.