Hyper-converged purveyor Maxta have been listening carefully to what their customers of the past two years have been saying, and they want choice.
A major appeal of hyper-converged offerings is simplicity: simple to buy, simple to use, at least when compared with build-your-own or reference architecture style systems. Instead, you buy a thing and use it. You just want some computer.
But what if you want more? Or if you change your mind later? What if, for example, you determine that you were mistaken in your assessment of what you needed, or your needs change? That never happens, right? Uh huh.
Maxta CEO Yoram Novick told me that Maxta want to support customer choice and flexibility by providing software that works with any server. “Part of our flexibility,” he says, “is that the form factor that we are using can be software only, as well as an appliance. We let the customer choose which approach is best for them.”
If you have existing infrastructure, rather than replacing your investment with new gear, Maxta will run on whatever you already have. “You want to use your existing infrastructure? No problem,” says Novick. “You like the support you get from HP? You like the service? You can keep using it. We don’t ask you to change everything because you want to leverage hyper-converged.”
If you do want an appliance, Maxta have a neat configuration tool on their website where you can choose your preferred server vendor, and the tool will show you which model you should buy, and Maxta will get it to you pre-configured and pre-certified, via one of their channel parters. “You get the appliance experience without having only one-size-fits-all.” As someone who talks to the channel quite a bit, I can see distributors and channel partners liking this function.
If you want to add memory later, you can. If you want to change the ratio of SSD to HDD, you can. If you want to add capacity, you can add it to a node instead of buying another appliance. While linear scalability was an initial drawcard to hyper-converged, if your workload doesn’t scale linearly you can end up over-provisioning compute or capacity if you need more of one but not the other.
This is why most hyper-converged vendors have added different type of nodes–some compute heavy, and some capacity heavy–to help customers scale in a non-linear fashion.
In keeping with this flexible approach, Maxta have tweaked their software to add in various tuning knobs that they initially left out deliberately. This is an interesting aspect of enterprise infrastructure: the simplicity of an appliance is great, at first, but tends to give way to a desire to tune things.
Now, not all tuning is done well, and there is an appeal to a locked box approach where only the smart boffins at the vendor are permitted to tune things. But customers like at least the illusion of control, and for some things you do want the option to tune things manually.