Don’t Fall into the Vendor Lock-In Trap of Hyper-convergence

About two years ago, I wrote a Blog (Storage Vendor Lock-in – Is the End Near?) that discusses how two emerging technologies, convergence and VM-aware storage, and more importantly the synergy among them, may provide the relief from vendor lock-in. Two years later, these two technologies have matured quite a bit and the synergy among them, widely referred to as hyper-convergence, is a pretty hot trend in IT.

For many customers, flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in are primary concerns and a key reason for considering hyper-convergence. While all of us at Maxta have been busy improving our hyper-converged solutions and maintaining them to be flexible and free of vendor lock-in, this is not the case for some of our competitors. Unfortunately, some vendors are not leveraging the inherent potential of hyper-convergence to reduce vendor lock-in. Moreover, others are making moves to increase vendor lock-in to their own offerings.

Take EMC for example. EMC should get credit for being the leader among incumbent storage vendors to embrace convergence with VCE and hyper-convergence with VSPEX BLUE. VCE has its benefits although vendor lock-in was never one of them. EMC hyper-convergence solution, VSPEX BLUE, is locking in customers to both EMC hardware and VMware vSphere virtualization. In other words, by purchasing EMC hyper-convergence, you are locking your IT to EMC at both the hardware level and the virtualization level.

Recently, Nutanix took vendor lock-in one step further. It just came out with a new hypervisor, the Acropolis Hypervisor as the basis for its future products. One should wonder why anyone would need yet another hypervisor? VMware is ubiquitous and it is the leader in the market for some very good reasons. VMware has spent a ton of time, money and resources to innovate and create a robust feature-rich hypervisor. The challenges with VMware are cost and scalability. Hyper-V is a good alternative for certain Windows-only environments. KVM is a good option for next generation data centers addressing the cost and scalability issues of VMware with an Open Source foundation and a large eco-system. The irony is that the Acropolis Hypervisor is based on KVM but goes against openness, which is the main benefit of KVM. Acropolis Hypervisor is an obvious Nutanix effort to lock-in customers to its hardware and software. It is certainly not in the best interest of customers to lock themselves to a specific hardware platform and a brand new hypervisor, especially these days when new abstraction layers such as Containers challenge the long term viability of full system virtualization schemes such as VMware, Hyper-V and KVM.

At Maxta, we believe that choice and flexibility are the main benefits of hyper-convergence. All customers should be able to run hyper-convergence on the server vendor of their choice and leverage any abstraction layer, be it VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, or Containers. This approach ensures no vendor lock-in at either the hardware layer or the virtualization layer. We have always been about offering our enterprise customers freedom of choice, which is what hyper-convergence is or was supposed to be all about.