Scaling Guidance

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At WWDC 2009, I stood up in a session on Snow Leopard server and lightly rattled Apple‘s cage about its poor scaling guidance for the product. They were spending a great deal of time talking about the benefits of Wiki Server 2, but there was little to take away from the session on what to tell any prospective customers regarding cost.

I think in the Apple world, there’s this unspoken rule of “whatever’s good enough” to suffice for an environment. That’s fine, but what I’d really like to be able to do is recommend a solution that will do the job.

In the past, Microsoft was very good about providing specific scaling guidance. Around the Dark Ages (which I define as the day SQL Server 2005 came out and every product hence), Microsoft pulled back on several things. Most notably, they stopped providing specific scaling guidance on products and very clear documentation.

The documentation that was offered with each product varied and was mostly vague and notional. Once my Microsoft TAM asked me as part of some kind of survey if I thought that blog content provided by Microsoft developers and whatnot could be considered as official documentation. It seems like some folks within the organization believe this to be so, but Goddess forbid you end up in the India support organization… where only the script in front of them is official documentation.

Back to Apple. They provide documentation and it’s usually quite good. They provide fairly extensive documentation. Sometimes it’s wrong, but it’s still documentation. It’s something to point to and say, “See here, it says this should function this way.” That’s a nice level of comfort. What they do NOT provide is scaling guidance. They will never ever tell you, “It will take x amount of Snow Leopard servers to run Wiki Server 2 for 10,000 users doing y amount of data.” Why not? I suspect it’s because they don’t know.

As Apple becomes more and more relevant in the enterprise, this has to change. If I’m going to propose an Apple-based solution to any of my prospective customers, I have to have something to work from. It cannot be “we’ll just throw some servers in there, watch it, then buy more.” Most customers… at least the government for sure… do not like that approach.

Ironically, I started this post as a complaint against Microsoft for providing not just vague information on this… but a box full of vague smoked up with an opaque fog on the glass.

That sucks, guys. Stop contributing to the failures of the IT industry and fix it.

I’m looking at you too, Apple.

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