FlexPod Review

It brings us value because it can be upgraded and utilized for many years, though it could use a unified interface for all three integrated technologies.

What is most valuable?

The features that are the most valuable to me are the simplified setup and administration, and the scalability of the system.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPods are very easy to setup and maintain, and they are scalable. That brings a high level of value to companies because the system can be upgraded and utilized for many years.

What needs improvement?

A unified interface for all the components would be a great start. Since FlexPods are a mixture of three different technologies, each component must be separately administered.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using and installing FlexPods for the past three years. I have installed FlexPods in multiple environments as well as with multiple models of hardware.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Each deployment is different for every client. The use of the FlexPod architecture is different nearly every time in some fashion. Any issues that arise come more from a design aspect than the actual FlexPod itself. Clients tend to design around their needs, and the FlexPod is flexible enough to accommodate, if installed correctly.

How are customer service and technical support?

FlexPods are wonderful for tech support and customer service. Because it is a mixture of three different technologies, Cisco and NetApp and VMware have worked out a deal that you can call any of their support numbers and they’ll get the other vendors on the line as needed to troubleshoot your problems. This is a great way to handle things, instead of you having to call each vendor separately and being given the run-around.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Many companies have used different solutions in the past. Blade server and bare metal servers have been around for a long time, but Cisco got it right with UCS. The UCS computing platform is the key to making a FlexPod what it is, and the primary reason for clients to choose it for their computing needs.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of each component is very simple, and usually taking only a few minutes for each. Once each part is setup, it then becomes more complex to integrate them together. Typically, a good FlexPod setup, following the validated designs, can take four to five days to build, then another couple days to verify.

What about the implementation team?

I am the vendor, so I do the delivery of the FlexPod and installation and configuration. My advice for implementation is to have a qualified, knowledgable vendor either do the installation, or assist. I am not saying this from a business standpoint, but from personal knowledge of the product. It is something that can be done by anyone, but it would take less time and be setup with best practices in mind if you get someone who knows what they are doing.

What was our ROI?

ROI is very difficult to truly quantify, but as far as pricing goes, it totally depends on the size of the system and what components you desire. Because the FlexPod is really just an architecture based on standards, pricing can range all over the place. For small businesses, you might want a FlexPod mini. For larger corporations, you might want multiple FlexPod installations.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is also an interesting topic since you will need to license UCS for the number of chassis as well as rack servers. NetApp needs to be licensed by the features you intend to use. Nexus licensing is based on the number of ports in the switch if I remember correctly. Then it comes down to what kind of installation you’re doing for any additional licensing. If you’re installing VMware, you need licensing for that product. If you chose to install Hyper-V, then licensing is different. If you choose Oracle Linux, or Windows, or something else, licensing changes again. What I suggest if to get a vendor in to help discuss and design the FlexPod around the needs of the company.

What other advice do I have?

FlexPod is is not really a product, but more of an architecture based on Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco Nexus Switches, and NetApp Storage. It is one of the best unified computing architectures out there, and is highly scalable.

FlexPods are perfect for nearly any environment, can be scaled out to fit the needs of the company, have longevity, and can be managed globally. Get a vendor who knows what they are doing and they can help you be successful.

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: My company partners with all the vendors for this product.
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author avatarit_user320889 (Senior Solutions Consultant with 10,001+ employees)

You would typically use something like UCS Director to unify the management of various layers in a FlexPod. I have positioned UCSD as a very capable tool to unify the management for the FlexPod solution, UCSD is more than manager it also has capabilities around automation and orchestration. Happy to discuss more if required