Beating the VMware Tax – Maxta Briefing Note

The term VMware Tax was a derogatory description of a change in VMware licensing a few years ago that charged users based on the amount of vRAM they used. VMware, after public outcry, dropped that policy. The term is now evolving into a more general description of the premium VMware is allowed to charge for its software thanks to its superior market position and its abundance of features. The problem is though that most environments use about 75% of the VMware capabilities and are not happy about paying for 100% of them. Hence, the VMware Tax term still hangs around VMware’s head.

The Problem with Beating The Tax

The obvious way to beat the VMware Tax is to use another hypervisor like Microsoft’s Hyper-V or one of the Linux based variants. The problem with beating the tax is generally the organization is locked into a brand-new licensing strategy, or locked into a hypervisor vendor that is offering a turnkey hardware platform.

The other problem is it is extremely difficult to make the transition because of that middle ground where some virtual machines (VM) are running on VMware and others are running on the new hypervisor can be very challenging. Certainly two clusters can be created, but moving VM between those is not as easy as it could be. This is especially true in the hyperconverged market, since most vendors either support only one hypervisor at all, or only support one hypervisor at a time.

Ideally, the hyperconverged software should support both hypervisors. Doing so would enable the organization to move VMs to the new environment based on need. Those VMs that do not need the robust capabilities of VMware can move to the alternate hypervisor. Those needing the complete capabilities of VMware can stay put. Considering most VMs in most environments don’t need the complete VMware feature set, moving them to an alternate hypervisor could represent a huge cost savings.

Introducing Maxta VMware Escape Pod

Maxta is a software-based hyperconvergence software solution that enables an organization to create a hyperconverged architecture from the hardware of their choice, including hardware they already own. Initially, the company has focused on the VMware market, and for the most part will continue to do so. But now Maxta is introducing what it calls the “VMware vSphere Escape Pod,” which enables the organization to transition some or all of its VMs to Red Hat Virtualization while using the same hyperconverged software.

The solution not only includes the dual support of VMware and Red Hat Virtualization, it also includes the tooling to perform a seamless migration of VMs from vSphere to the Red Hat platform.

Creating a product called “VMware vSphere Escape Pod” is a bit like poking the bear, so choosing Red Hat as its partner was a wise move on Maxta’s part. Red Hat is a hardened, enterprise grade virtualization solution and offers many of the capabilities that VMware does. Also, because of the Red Hat business model the cost savings possible by moving to the platform is going to be dramatic for some users.

StorageSwiss Take

The VMware Tax is a constant complaint from IT. As the environment scales, the cost of VMware is significant and organizations of all sizes are looking for ways to reduce that investment. Certainly other hypervisors have existed for quite some time but the transition was always a bit risky and often require that the organization “jump in with both feet into the deep end.”

The Maxta solution enables a blended approach that allows the same software to work with both hypervisors, enabling the organization to migrate at its pace, as it makes sense. For organizations looking to beat the VMware tax, while leveraging their existing hardware investment, Maxta deserves a hard look.

Eight years ago George Crump, founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal. To educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is and a heavily sought after public speaker. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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