To Appliance or not to Appliance? Confusion reigns in the software defined datacentre

Everybody seems to think they know the answer, but sometimes I wonder if they even understand the question.

Hot on the heels of the launch of VMware’s EVO:RAIL, and somewhat more under the radar, Maxta have announced Maxdeploy, in which they seek hardware partners for their software only hyperconvergence solution.

Maxta CEO Yoram Novick has been quoted as saying “It’s very clear that customers don’t want to buy storage software and be their own integrators”.

Well, yes, the ones you talked to maybe, but there is no one size fits all solution in this space, and so the answer ain’t as easy as cosying up to SuperMicro and thinking all is well.

From my experience an appliance pre-configured and loaded with hyperconvergence goodness is a really quick way to get up and running – principally because I just don’t have the time to play system integrator and work out all the permutations of chassis, motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage, NICs, BIOS, firmware, etc., etc. that I need to develop a stable system.

In this way I can see Maxta’s point, and perhaps for their target market this works out, but there are organisations out there that think very differently.

They are the large organisations that carry such deep discounts on commodity hardware that they laugh in the face of the prices put forward when these commodity bits and pieces are converted into appliances. For them it is all about the software, how it works, how it performs, how it’s supported, how it gives them ROI.

They can pull in an order for any configuration of commodity server to run it on at the stroke of a pen, but they don’t own the IP of the software that ties it all together, and they often as not would like the ability to choose their hypervisor as well, by the way.

So while you watch some hyperconvergence solutions binding you to potentially inflexible hardware platforms, such as the 4 node minimum scale block of EVO:RAIL, don’t lose sight of those that might be going the other way.

The software defined datacentre will always need hardware, but nobody said it HAD to be exactly a certain type of hardware.

Don’t save all your excitement for the appliance, save it for the software; because if that doesn’t deliver then neither will your infrastructure solution.

 

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