Maxta – Storage Field Day 7 Preview

maxtaUp next in our previews of Storage Field Day 7 (SFD) vendors is Server SAN vendor Maxta. Maxta, founded in 2009 is a provider of software for end users wanting to build an enterprise storage array from commodity x86 hardware. This will be Maxta’s first appearance at Tech Field Day. Competitors in this area include VMware’s VSAN, HP’s StoreVirtual VSA and EMC ScaleIO. Maxta claims a wide range of support for hypervisors including vSphere, KVM and the “ability to support” Hyper-V.

Architect’s View

Maxta, uses the terms appliance and hyper-converge in their marketing. When I see these terms, my expectation is that the solution is more than Server San play. I believe there’s a key difference between Server SAN and hyper-convergence. The crew of In Tech We Trust had an interesting debate on what constitutes hyper-converged vs. Server SAN. Just like the hosts of the podcast, I have my list of attributes.

  1. Appliance based with modular scale-out architecture
  2. Appliance based storage, compute (networking is a +)
  3. Appliance cluster management software

While I believe Maxta does 1 & 2, I’m not clear on the value-add for management of the appliances. I define an appliance as a modular x86 based system independently managed from the hypervisor. If Maxta is just giving me a platform to manage storage and not the installation of the overall appliance including the hypervisor, then it doesn’t fit my definition of hyper-converge. However, being a server san solution only doesn’t mean that it’s a bad solution, just that it’s not hyper-converged.

Maxta has provided an impressive list of briefs that have overviews of integration with different server OEMs. However, there’s very little content on the value-add beyond creation of a Server SAN for running VM’s. I also found very little reference to Microsoft Hyper-V on their website outside of the reference to the ability to support Hyper-V. I look forward to the demo and understanding how Maxta provides storage to VM’s. It’s not clear from their online material if they run bare metal on the hardware, integrate with the hypervisor or are leveraging Virtual Storage Appliances (VSA).

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

4 thoughts on “Maxta – Storage Field Day 7 Preview

  1. First, I would like to say that we are very excited to participate in the upcoming Storage Field Day 7 and for the opportunity to discuss with you and the other delegates Maxta offerings and technology.

    That said, hyper convergence is a term that is being assigned a variety of descriptions. We have had many conversations with analyst and journalists on this topic. For example, if you take TechTarget’s definition: Hyper-convergence (hyperconvergence) is a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor. Maxta certainly meets this definition very well.

    The challenge that many will have with the In Tech We Trust definition of hyper-convergence is the 3rd requirement (“Appliance cluster management software”). Except for VMware, no hyper-convergence vendor provides the entire software stack and since various other parts of the software stack are providing some level of “cluster management software”, this part of the definition is not very clear. We believe that not only Maxta but, other vendors that currently lay claim to being hyper-converged would challenge why is it more important for a hyper convergence vendor to provides its own Appliance cluster management software than it is for the hyper-convergence vendor to provide its own virtualization software.

    We have a lot of great information to discuss at the event so feel free to let us know if you would like to have a deeper discussion around definitions prior to the event.

    We look forward to seeing you next week!


    1. I agree with the Tech We Trust guys. I think the Server SAN definition that Wikibon came up with better describes solutions without Appliance Cluster Management. The industry tried to introduce the term Hypervisor converged but that doesn’t represent all solutions.

      Beyond definitions the concept is solid. Software is a great alternative to hardware focused appliances. I look forward to talking about how Maxta solves the storage question in general.

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