Earlier this year I attended Storage Field Day 7 and a hot topic was, of course, hyperconvergence. The simplicity of all-in-one convergence is helping lead a transformation in the datacenter market – no wonder that we had three sessions on the topic. The session from Maxta was interesting because their offering helps overcome a preconception many in the enterprise space have about hyperconvergence. The issue is that of linear scaling whereby when you need storage you must add compute and vice versa. By eliminating the need to add compute power and storage simultaneously Maxta provides huge benefits when compared to others.
A Maxta solution consists of a minimum of three nodes. All virtual machines are protected in a RAID-1 style by keeping a second copy of the VM on another host. The 3nd node serves as a witness to ensure data integrity. Each node consists of compute, storage, and a hypervisor. The storage is designed as a hybrid configuration with flash accelerating a capacity tier of traditional spinning media. Flash will also be used for a journal and metadata. An all-flash configuration is also supported should the need arise. Each host has a VM appliance installed on it which consumes 4 vCPU and 8GB of memory.
A cluster can grow on the fly in three different days. The usual Scale Out approach where a new node is be added to the cluster with no interruption of service. Data is rebalanced across the new node. The maximum number of nodes is driven by vSphere limitations. In addition Maxta offers a Scale Up approach where new drives can be added to the host or smaller drives replaced with large drives. Either option is also done without service interruption.
Maxta has a fairly robust data services offering which includes thin provisioning, deduplication, compression, zero copy cloning, and snapshotting. I am not a fan of VMware snapshots as they incur a large performance penalty to the virtual machine. Maxta snapshots are more like a traditional SAN snapshot and have very little performance overhead. Another great feature provided by Maxta is fault domains for stretched clustering.
Maxta is sold either as an appliance of as software only depending on your requirements. Software licensing is done as raw backend data rather than being based on usable capacity. Non-storage nodes do not incur additional costs.
All in all Maxta offers a very interesting solution in the hyperconverged marketplace. They have spent a lot of time trying to set themselves apart from the other players and I think it’s going to pay off.
Disclaimer: I attended Storage Field Day 7 as a delegate. My travel, accommodations, and most meals were paid for. There is no requirement to blog or tweet about my experiences and I am not compensates in any way.