Maxta Announces MxIQ

Maxta recently announced MxIQ. I had the opportunity to speak to Barry Phillips (Chief Marketing Officer) and Kiran Sreenivasamurthy (VP, Product Management) and thought I’d share some information from the announcement here. It’s been a while since I’ve covered Maxta, and you can read my previous thoughts on them here.

 

Introducing MxIQ

MxIQ is Maxta’s support and analytics solution and it focuses on four key aspects:

  • Proactive support through data analytics;
  • Preemptive recommendation engine;
  • Forecast capacity and performance trends; and
  • Resource planning assistance.

Historical data trends for capacity and performance are available, as well as metadata concerning cluster configuration, licensing information, VM inventory and logs.

Architecture

MxIQ is a server – client solution and the server component is currently hosted by Maxta in AWS. This can be decoupled from AWS and hosted in a private DC environment if customers don’t want their data sitting in AWS. The downside of this is that Maxta won’t have visibility into the environment, and you’ll lose a lot of the advantages of aggregated support data and analytics.

[image courtesy of Maxta]

There is a client component that runs on every node in the cluster in the customer site. Note that one agent in each cluster is active, with the other agents communicate with the active agent. From a security perspective, you only need to configure an outbound connection, as the server responds to client requests, but doesn’t initiate communications with the client. This may change in the future as Maxta adds increased functionality to the solution.

From a heartbeat perspective, the agent talks to the server every minute or so. If, for some reason, it doesn’t check in, a support ticket is automatically opened.

[image courtesy of Maxta]

Privileges

There are three privilege levels that are available with the MxIQ solution.

  • Customer
  • Partner
  • Admin

Note that the Admin (Maxta support) needs to be approved by the customer.

[image courtesy of Maxta]

The dashboard provides an easy to consume overview of what’s going on with managed Maxta clusters, and you can tell at a glance if there are any problems or areas of concern.

[image courtesy of Maxta]

 

Thoughts

I asked the Maxta team if they thought this kind of solution would result in more work for support staff as there’s potentially more information coming in and more support calls being generated. Their opinion was that, as more and more activities were automated, the workload would decrease. Additionally, logs are collected every four hours. This saves Maxta support staff time chasing environmental information after the first call is logged. I also asked whether the issue resolution was automated. Maxta said it wasn’t right now, as it’s still early days for the product, but that’s the direction it’s heading in.

The type of solution that Maxta are delivering here is nothing new in the marketplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable for Maxta and their customers. I’m a big fan of adding automated support and monitoring to infrastructure environments. It makes it easier for the vendor to gather information about how their product is being used, and it provides the ability for them to be proactive, and super responsive, to customer issues as the arise.

From what I can gather from my conversation with the Maxta team, it seems like there’s a lot of additional functionality they’ll be looking to add to the product as it matures. The real value of the solution will increase over time as customers contribute more and more telemetry data and support to the environment. This will obviously improve Maxta’s ability to respond quickly to support issues, and, potentially, give them enough information to avoid some of the more common problems in the first place. Finally, the capacity planning feature will no doubt prove invaluable as customers continue to struggle with growth in their infrastructure environments. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this product evolves over time.

Maxta Introduces “Freemium” Hyperconverged Solution

maxta

This is a really quick post while it’s still in my head. I stopped by the Maxta booth at VMworld recently. I haven’t spoken to Maxta since I saw them at SFD7, so I was curious to hear about what they were up to. They told me about their “freemium” MxSP software license they were releasing soon.

Maxta_Freemium

As I understand it (and please someone correct me if I’m wrong), it’s limited to 3 nodes and 24TB of capacity, but you’ll be able to upgrade Free MxSP licenses non-disruptively to a premium license when you’re ready to go head on. You can read the press release here and sign up for the license here (note that there are some geographic restrictions on this).

Storage Field Day 7 – Day 3 – Maxta

Disclaimer: I recently attended Storage Field Day 7.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

For each of the presentations I attended at SFD7, there are a few things I want to include in the post. Firstly, you can see video footage of the Maxta presentation here. You can also download my raw notes from the presentation here. Finally, here’s a link to the Maxta website that covers some of what they presented.

 

Company Overview

Yoram Novick, CEO of Maxta, took us through a little of the company’s history and an overview of the products they offer.

Founded 2009, Maxta “maximises the promise of hyper-convergence” through:

  • Choice;
  • Simplicity;
  • Scalability; and
  • Cost.

They currently offer a buzzword-compliant storage platform via their MxSP product, while producing hyper-converged appliances via the MaxDeploy platform. They’re funded by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital, and Tenaya Capital amongst others and are seeking to “[a]lign the storage construct with the abstraction layer”. They do this through:

  • Dramatically simplified management;
  • “World class” VM-level data services;
  • Eliminating storage arrays and storage networking; and
  • Leveraging flash / disk and capacity optimization.

 

Solutions

MaxDeploy is Maxta’s Hyper-Converged Appliance, running on a combination of preconfigured servers and Maxta software. Maxta suggest you can go from zero to running VMs in 15 minutes. They offer peace of mind through:

  • Interoperability;
  • Ease of ordering and deployment; and
  • Predictability of performance.

MxSP is Maxta’s Software-Defined Storage product. Not surprisingly, it is software only, and offered via a perpetual license or via subscription. Like a number of SDS products, the benefits are as follows:

  • Flexibility
    • DIY – your choice in hardware
    • Works with existing infrastructure – no forklift upgrades
  • Full-featured
    • Enterprise class data services
    • Support latest and greatest technologies
  • Customised configuration for users
    • Major server vendors supported
    • Proposed configuration validated
    • Fulfilled by partners

 

Architecture

MaxtaMaxDeployArchitecture

The Maxta Architecture is built around the following key features:

Data Services

  • Data integrity
  • Data protection / snapshots / clones
  • High availability
  • Capacity optimisation (thin / deduplication / compression)
  • Linear scalability

Simplicity

  • VM-centric
  • Tight integration with orchestration software / tools
  • Policy based management
  • Multi-hypervisor support (VMware, KVM, OpenStack integration)

What’s the value proposition?

  • Maximise choice – any server, hypervisor, storage, workload
  • Maximise IT simplicity – manage VMs, not storage
  • Maximise Cost Savings – standard components and capacity optimisation
  • Provide high levels of data resiliency, availability and protection

I get the impression that Maxta thought a bit about data layout, with the following points being critical to the story:

  • Cluster-wide capacity balancing
  • Favours placement of new data on new / under-utilised disks / nodes
  • Periodic rebalancing across disks / nodes
  • Proactive data relocation

 

Closing Thoughts and Further Reading

I like Maxta’s story. I like the two-pronged  approach they’ve taken with their product set, and appreciate the level of thought they’ve put into their architecture. I have no idea how much this stuff costs, so can’t say whether it represents good value or no, but on the basis of the presentation I saw I certainly think they’re worth looking at if you’re looking to get into either mega-converged appliances or buzzword-storage platforms. You should also check out Keith’s preview blog post on Maxta here, while Cormac did a great write-up late last year that is well worth checking out.