If anyone has been following the release of vSphere 5.1, you know it was not exactly a smooth launch. In fact, I would dare to call it a huge debacle. To me, it seems like it was rushed out the door without having components even beta tested, like the required SSO service. The original SSL certificate replacement instructions were 100% wrong, plus several components were very buggy. I really have no earthly idea how the code made it past internal quality assurance.
Clearly VMware recognized the 5.1.0 GA version had significant problems, and support calls probably clogged their phones. I know I personally spent many hours with the India support desk trying to fix SSL problems, with little success. So a few weeks after 5.1.0 GA, out came 5.1.0a. This helped, but still had a number of install problems and bugs. In late December 2012 they shipped 5.1.0b, which did zap many remaining installation bugs. Meantime, they also published a number of KB articles covering the right way to replace the certificates. Several articles have had revisions since their initial release.
So using the vSphere 5.1.0b media, refreshed VMware KB articles, and updating my own 15 blog articles, I finally got through a complete install without having to hack VMware scripts or do other undocumented steps. Easy? No. Quick? No. Vastly harder than it should be? Yes. Feel fragile? Yes.
Should you bet the stability of a large enterprise production environment on vSphere 5.1.0b? Only you can answer that for yourself, but personally this is the first release of vSphere that I won’t put into production. vSphere 5.0 U2 is very stable, and there aren’t any compelling features for my environment in 5.1 that I can’t wait to get rolled into vSphere v.Next due out in late 2013.
I’m also hopeful the new VMware CEO will put an emphasis on quality, and not push releases out the door that are not production ready. Just yesterday VMware announced some layoffs, spinning off a few products, and re-focusing on their core technology. I hope that includes re-focusing on quality releases and not just packing in new features to one-up Hyper-V.
Even if you don’t want to put 5.1 into production, I would strongly urge you to install it in a lab environment. Get used to the new web client, try out the new VDS features, etc. This will help you ramp up quicker on vSphere v.Next. Plus if you run into any bugs, open a support case so the future releases are more stable.
You can find Part 1 of my 15-part vCenter 5.1 installation series here. It was a lot of work, but I tried to incorporate my own lessons learned, reader feedback, and changes in VMware KB articles. In my home lab I now have a running vCenter 5.1.0b install, and I have yet to see any SSL problems or broken services.
If anyone follows my revamped guides and still has problems, please leave comments for the appropriate article. I can’t guarantee I’ll respond to all comments, but other readers may.