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 has 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 hyper-convergence 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...
Nutanix – the Energizer Bunny of IT Infrastructure

Nutanix – the Energizer Bunny of IT Infrastructure

  “Software Defined” has become the epithet of the Nutanix solution, but you will always need hardware and hardware will always fail. Recently we installed a relatively new NX-3460 for a Proof of Concept (POC) with all four nodes showing as up and running in the Prism management with no alerts. However, the storage total looked a little light, so on investigating the hardware section of the management interface we noticed 3 HDDs were missing from node A of the appliance. Not failed, just not there! Reseating made no difference and there were no failed lights on the disks. Swapping disks into other bays showed that the disks themselves were not at fault. It’s important to note that this wasn’t a case of an in use storage system losing disks, which would have thrown errors, but as no storage pool was defined initially these just didn’t come online at all on setup and so didn’t show in the resultant storage pool when created – hence the low total readings that alerted us to this issue. The SATA connecter was assumed to be the problem so a swap out node was arranged. When the replacement node arrived, the SATA DOM from which the node boots was moved to the replacement and the node replaced and booted. During this time the cluster on the other 3 nodes continued in ignorance with just a few alerts complaining of the node A’s disappearance. This did not solve the problem – the three disks stubbornly refused to be seen. It was decided, therefore, that a total chassis replacement (as this carried the passive mid-plane...