What is our primary use case?
For our purposes, we do not need fast data and we did not need a lot of IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) throughput because we are just running directory services. We have probably 35 VMs of Linux and maybe another 15 VMs of windows.
Most of our customers are really large like Amazon and Google. But we also have some small ones that are in the IoT space (Internet of Things). Most of our agents hit a webpage — another SAS solution like Zendesk or Bright Pattern (which is an omnichannel phone system) — whatever the customer brings to us is what we use. We do not do any hosting of anybody's data.
Because of that, for PCI (Payment Card Industry) we are squeaky clean. We also have some healthcare accounts. But we do not need high performance for this kind of thing. If I needed performance I would just put in 4 SSDs and flash drives. It isn't what our clients require.
The solution works for our situation. It uses all the storage that you have on however many servers you have and combines that into one data store and then you can segment it out from there.
We do on-premises installations. Our company was bought back in December 2018 by Collabera Holdings and those sister companies are using C3 networks.
How has it helped my organization?
The product helped improve the way our organization functions starting with our hiring practices. We do not have to have a storage engineer or other engineering specialists. So, for example, I had a budget to get someone for a security engineer position of $120,000 a year. In the end, after talking to several local people in my industry, they just told me that security guys will come in and then somebody will offer them $5,000 more and they will just go where the money is. So I went with a third party called the Arctic Wolf Networks to do all my monitoring of my Office 365 environments, all of our servers, collect all the logs, and get all the services I needed from one source that would be consistent. This way, I can hire just general networking engineers and they can run everything. I do not have to have special employees and the benefits of that flexibility are pretty great.
With the solution, you can swap out a drive for a larger capacity drive. You can lose a couple of drives and everything still runs. You can lose the server and it is self-healing and you can schedule maintenance around events. But I do not have to have staffing 24-hours a day because we do not have outages. That is probably the biggest thing. Meanwhile, in another part of the network that I am currently taking over from the global holding company, they have outages all the time. Sometimes it is due to a network failure or sometimes it is just poor engineering practices and standards. Over there we just set up to large servers and a couple of data centers using the VxRail system, which is like vSAN, so it is pretty similar stuff to our current setups but just uses other products.
What is most valuable?
I think my favorite feature is the ability to have a single-pane-of-glass using the VMware interface. With that, I am able to manipulate storage and move it around. It is so much easier because you do not have to do any calculations and you do not need a storage specialist. Someone who is more of a general IT person that knows a little bit of VMware can go in there and make changes. It is pretty intuitive. It makes things easier and that is why it is probably my favorite feature.
What needs improvement?
The support of Maxta has a lot of room for improvement. It was good before the company closed and sold out, but the level of service has changed. We had bought four sites with three nodes each from the original company and when the company folded the new company that bought them said that we did not have support anymore. They wanted us to buy more support. That is not really the optimal way that should play out.
For how long have I used the solution?
I bought Maxta software-defined storage initially about three years ago.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability of Maxta is very good. The hyper-convergence is flexible and easy to manage.
How are customer service and technical support?
The new company that took over the product is a nice company, but now their support for Maxta has gone way downhill.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Actually I have been using Maxta and was considering moving on to something else. It has worked well for the whole time that I have had it. At one point they went out of business and they were bought by another company after they closed down. It is a nice company, but now their support has gone way downhill.
Since we do not need super-fast data speeds and we do not have a ton of IOPS, I was looking for another software-only solution. What I ended up doing was taking a special offer with vSAN to buy two nodes and get one free. I bought a couple of those kits. It was still on Maxta, so I have support for Maxta now. I am using that to get us off of Maxta in the future and get our network up on vSAN.
On a scale of one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Maxta as a seven currently because of the issues with support.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is pretty easy and the configuration and maintenance are done through a single-pane-of-glass.
What about the implementation team?
We do all our own installations and deployments.
What other advice do I have?
I have been in this business for 35 years and I am the network engineering for a global company which is called MRI holdings. I worked for large service providers and when the internet became popular, I worked for a company called Verio that went and bought big regional ISPs. We converted them under one billing system, one engineering structure, and one call center.
I noticed that a lot of people — especially some young engineers that I have had working for me — liked the model putting in a server and then creating some LANs and hooking up some storage. It was pretty easy and I was doing that all the way back in 2000. So I wanted to do something that was a little more forward-thinking. That is why I got into the hyper-converged infrastructure which posed some advantages.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?