Software Hyperconvergage Infrastructure provider Maxta announced support with Red Hat to offer a simple VM migration process. This would allow users to easily transition from VMware to Red Hat’s Enterprise Virtualization that uses KVM.
The HCI space is crowded enough that I should introduce Maxta before going into the details. They exemplify what I consider to be the second wave or 2.0 version of HCI. The early days of HCI were primarily focused (at least in hindsight of success) on simplifying provisioning and management in virtualization. Their advantage wasn’t in the cost savings on the initial hardware purchase, but on reduced staffing and complexity of operations.
Where Maxta innovates is by taking a software approach to HCI. Doing so decouples the convenience of management and provisioning from the typical hardware refresh cycle. It’s not that hardware refreshes go away. Rather, since this is a BYO server, you have more control of when you need to and should refresh. And you can scale compute and storage independently. This also means it’s much easier to keep licensing under control.
Of course, Maxta isn’t the only software HCI solution out there. The gorilla in the room is vSAN. Here Maxta offers support for multiple hypervisors, whereas vSAN is limited to VMware (obviously).
Maxta has a sweet of differentiators as to why they stand apart from vSAN on top of hypervisor choice. This includes support for hundreds of snapshots per VM, better compression on SQL workloads, and availability policies on a per VM basis. These should not be glossed over, but the meat of Maxta’s announcement is around hypervisor migrations.
Essentially, Maxta now supports automatically exporting VMs from VMware and importing into RHEV. This is done using a dead simple UI to select the VMs for migration. Migration itself is only part of the story those. If it was simply moving the VMs, it wouldn’t be very feasible for a lot of organizations.
To that effect, the post migration optimizations are what turn this from a technical achievement to something relevant to your IT team. Maxta and Red Hat have done the work to make sure that the UI between the two hypervisors is identical in terms of workflow. That means you don’t have to do any retraining or temporarily lose any productivity in a migration. In the same vein, migrating to KVM retains feature parity with what you were used to with VMware.
After seeing the UI from Maxta, the only real difference a user would see post-migration from a UI standpoint is that the upper left would say “VMware” instead of “KVM”. Obviously Maxta thinks they make a compelling technical use case under the hood why you would prefer KVM over VMware, but ultimately they want to make it a seamless experience to use either.
It’s no longer enough for HCI to simply offer easy provisioning and management. We’ve seen a number of solutions diversify the term out from a hardware appliance, and increasing into a software solution. Maxta certainly seems to be at the forefront of this transition. Their support for easy migrations with Red Hat takes down another barrier from giving them a serious look.