Maxta kicked off 2016 with an update to its MxSP software hyper-converged platform, adding policy templates that allow customers to automatically tune storage to discrete applications running inside virtual machines.
The enhanced Maxta storage software identifies an application at the VM level and applies best practices to optimize its storage. The "application-defined" templates recommend optimal storage configurations for common workloads, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server and Oracle Database.
Users can apply Maxta's automated templates or create custom policies for number of replicas, rebuild priority, node affinity, and whether an application needs compression and wide striping.
Maxta CEO Yoram Novick said the upgrade eliminates the need to dedicate specific server clusters to each application.
"Most hyper-convergence from other vendors is one-size-fits-all. You can't easily change the block size or how many copies you keep. Our secret sauce is the ability to customize storage configurations on a VM basis," Novick said.
Maxta storage will have to hustle for market share
MxSP supports any underlying block storage array by presenting assigned volumes as a managed pool of shared storage. Listed use cases include line-of-business applications, remote branch office storage, virtual desktops, disaster recovery storage, testing and development, and managed service providers.
Hyper-converged hardware typically combines computing resources, networking, storage and virtualization in a single appliance. MxSP is licensed either as a software-only installation or prepackaged on commodity storage servers under Maxta's MaxDeploy validated reference architecture.
Nutanix and SimpliVity are widely regarded among the leading hyper-converged hardware vendors. Maxta's latest release doesn't give it the same clout, but the enhancements should appeal to service providers and other hyper-scale data centers, said Colm Keegan, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.
Keegan said Maxta's latest release should allow hyper-scale data centers to reuse existing compute and storage.
"If you're going to run a particular workload -- and this is true of any storage, not necessarily hyper-converged storage -- you have to tune the array to work with that application. Your infrastructure winds up as a silo of applications. Ideally, you want the ability to move and pool resources as the application requires it," Keegan said.
Hyper-convergence is in flux
Despite the recent demise of hyper-converged software vendor Nimboxx, Novick said he considers software-only options the best way to go. He said hyper-converged appliances, such as those sold by Nutanix and SimpliVity, are best for virtual desktop infrastructure, but that the advatage of Maxta storage is that it works with any open system hardware.
"We believe the software-defined approach will be the long-term winner," he said. "Nimboxx didn't provide any real differentiator than anybody else. In a proof of concept, Nimboxx couldn't say there was anything they did that was better than anybody else. Our differentiator is we're developing software that works in any environment."
VMware's Virtual SAN is sold as software-only or packaged on partners' appliances. "[But] our advantage over VMware is support for multiple hypervisors and the ability to work with any storage," Novick said.
Maxta storage supports VMware vSphere and KVM hypervisors, and Novick said support for Microsoft Hyper-V is on the product roadmap.
Nutanix sells its software on x86 servers from hardware OEM partners Dell and Lenovo, but Novick said customers are locked into the hardware they buy with the Nutanix software. With Maxta, they can add MxSP with whatever servers they already use. They can also transfer the MxSP software license when switching server hardware.
"Buying a Nutanix-Dell appliance is not that different than buying a Nutanix appliance," he said. "You can't move their software to another Dell server. You can only have the specific bundles they created."
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