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Maxta launches in UK to take on Nutanix and VMware with 'unique' channel model

Maxta provides a hyperconverged solution through life-time licences that never have to be renewed

Hyperconverged vendor Maxta has launched in the UK with a business model it claims to be "hyperconverged 2.0".

Founded in California in 2009, Maxta is up against Nutanix and VMware in the hyperconverged space, but claims to have a unique business model that makes it more partner- and customer-friendly than the established players in the market.

Maxta global sales senior vice president Andrew Perry explained to CRN that customers buy one Maxta licence per server, which they have for life, instead of purchasing on a subscription basis like other vendors in the market.

"With the typical appliance, whether it's traditional or any appliance in this space, the licence is tied to the hardware and when the hardware dies, the licence dies," Perry said.

"If it's software-only they usually do a term licence - meaning you own it for the amount of time you're buying it - then you have to rebuy it every three years. We don't believe that scales.

"Maxta is a single charge per server, regardless of the size or capacity of the server. This is very different to a lot of the other products out there that are appliances and charge you a different rate per capability."

Maxta is a software-only vendor and does not sell its solution as an appliance, meaning it can operate across any hardware platform, the company claims. The licence can also be moved from one hardware vendor to another without any extra charge.

Because of this Maxta is compatible with all server vendors, but Perry said that so far he is seeing considerable success with Lenovo, Dell and Supermicro partners.

Intel is also Maxta's highest investor, leading a $25m (£19.2m) funding round in 2014. Maxta is based at Intel's headquarters in Santa Clara.

Perry explained that being software-only means that Maxta relies on its partners to select the hardware platform for customers and provide the complete solution.

"When someone needs to buy software, they need to buy servers too," Perry said. "[Our product] can run on existing servers but usually they have to retrofit the existing server by buying some sort of components - that's why we do everything through resellers. We want the resellers to sell the hardware and the software [that] is appropriate for what the customer needs.

"We're 100 per cent software so we need resellers to basically do the integration work or sell a complete solution where they'll choose the server and marry it with software for a solution."

Maxta has had a limited presence in the UK for a couple of years, which Perry said was mostly US-based partners with a small amount of business abroad.

Competition

Perry highlighted Maxta's main competition in the space as VMware and Nutanix, claiming that SimpliVity has fallen away since its acquisition by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

"We're taking share from the traditional storage vendors," he said.

"Nutanix and VMware have done a great job validating the space and they've proven that, for virtualised workloads, you don't need external storage because you can run it all on hyperconvergence.

"Every time we go in we're displacing the existing server, network, [and] storage. When [customers] are looking at the options, we're head to head against Nutanix and VMware. We're not taking their product out because it's mostly greenfield, but when we get in head to head against them we're doing pretty well."

Channel strategy

Perry oversaw Maxta's launch into the UK at the start of this year, with Mark Johnson joining from Veeam to head up the vendor's EMEA channel and partner recruitment drive. The vendor currently has two UK partners, with another five expected to be signed up this quarter.

A single-tier channel model is currently in place, but Maxta is in talks with a couple of UK distributors as it looks to switch to a two-tier model and drive towards its UK partner target of 20.

To help drum up business for the channel, Maxta gives away its software on its website for free, allowing end users to install it on three servers before any payment is required.

Jonathan Greenwood, director of solutions sales at Maxta partner NCE, said Maxta's offering is already starting to beat the likes of Nutanix with UK customers.

"Nutanix are very appliance-driven; they like to sell it on Dell, Lenovo or Supermicro tin which I can understand because they're trying to protect their reputation and make sure nobody puts it in a whacky configuration and makes the software look average.

"By doing that, their messaging to customers is that they have this software-defined solution that sits independently outside the hardware structure, but the reality is that, when you scope it, they've shoehorned a piece of hardware into the equation as well.

"That's the difference with Maxta. They're very much a software-defined play that will work with mainstream, commodity-branded hardware.

"I met a customer recently who was going down the Nutanix path and asked 'can I put this on anything'?" Very quickly Nutanix said 'Well, no you can't', and that created a problem for them because they wanted to put it on existing infrastructure that they'd invested in. Nutanix told them that nobody was out there pitching a software-only play, and then I walked through the door with Maxta."

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