Does what works with what work?

Today I want to ask a question to those of you managing SANs in your datacenter. My question is how useful are interoperability support matrices, or what-works-with-what matrices for storage network components? Do they help?

I don't manage a SAN. As a traveling engineering manager, my day-to-day exposure to networking usually involves the two network ports on my notebook computer. It came with two built-in network interfaces. One, a traditional ethernet NIC, and the other an 802.11 wireless port.

This notebook didn't come with a WWWW for either network port, but I wonder, what would I do if there were? What if, for example, it said the ethernet port only supported talking to web servers running particular NICs under a certain versions of Linux? Would I have to send a note to Google to check if their hardware is on my matrix? If it wasn't, would I have to buy a separate NIC just for visiting google.com? What if the documentation for the wireless port said it only worked with certain models of Linksys routers with specific versions of firmware? Would I have to check with the person at the counter of my local coffee shop what firmware was running in their wireless hotspot?

I recently talked to the storage administrators at a large financial company. Their SAN covered at least two floors of a large building. Their storage network included a variety of servers running most of the major OS's in use today, storage from almost every major storage vendor, and three brands of switches. When they installed a new server, its SNIC had to just plug into this storage network and use whatever storage the application demanded. In practice, they couldn't use the WWWW either.

So, let me know. Does the WWWW help? My email address is in the upper right corner of the page.

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