Quoting from the VMware official announcement:
VMware, Inc., the virtualization leader, today announced a new hardware certification program for storage virtualization devices. Combined with the virtualization-enabling technologies in VMware ESX Server, this program is designed to enable customers to have more choice in deploying virtualized storage solutions with VMware Infrastructure.
By enabling hardware vendors to certify storage virtualization devices for VMware Infrastructure, VMware and hardware vendors together are poised to bring to market the complementary technologies of server virtualization and storage virtualization. As a result of this program, customers will be able to leverage the flexibility of management, cost efficiency and high availability of VMware Infrastructure as well as storage virtualization to create an end-to-end solution.
VMware is working directly with its Global- and Premier-level Technology Alliance Partner (TAP) program members to certify their storage virtualization devices. VMware is also working to expand the certification program to the broader storage ecosystem, including to Select-level TAP members, later this year with testing done by VMware’s authorized testing centers or by AppLabs or Cognizant Technologies. These global IT services companies specialize in testing and are authorized by VMware to test eligible hardware for all standard VMware hardware certification categories…
One common complain about VMware in the SMB market relates to its strict Hardware Compatibility List, so far only limited to servers. With this move also storage has to be certified, possibly creating an unreachable entry cost for most low-budged virtualization adopters.
This strategy also slows down storage startups, which will have to adhere VMware Technology Alliance at all costs to not have much harder time reaching customers’ sites.
The most interesting aspect anyway is that while VMware is locking down customers choices, it’s also working to extend control over hardware vendors without investing too many resources: the company is expected to launch a self-certification program in the near future, allowing every vendor to perform compatibility tests that VMware itself usually takes care of.