FlexPod Review
When you are doing a rip-and-replace of your storage, you can bring UCS and NetApp in at the same time.

Valuable Features

I like the fact that it is all integrated. That is the biggest thing. You get everything, all in one shot. A good example of that is when you are doing a rip-and-replace of your storage. It allows you to bring UCS and NetApp in at the same time, at the five- or six-year mark, when your storage starts to get some age on it and you are looking to get into new technology. It is really handy to grab something like that to get everything taken care of. I like the fact that it is all one big, solid unit.

Improvements to My Organization

It really didn't change much in the implementation that I had because we already had an existing UCS installation. The good thing about it was that it just fell in and integrated with what we already had.

Room for Improvement

Seeing some integration to cloud would be important, for sure. That was what I was hoping to see with some of the new data ONTAP features that we were going to learn about at a recent conference I attended. I'd like to see, for example, a namespace that you can extend to a cloud provider, so that you can just do a straight vol move from on-prem out to cloud.

The support aspect was something that was lacking a little bit. NetApp has improved a little bit there, but we have struggled with some support issues, even here recently. I'm hoping that NetApp can get the support piece figured out.

Stability Issues

We have had no issues stability-wise.

Scalability Issues

We didn't need to scale ours.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is not fantastic. Especially when I was supporting the FlexPod at a previous employer, we had some issues. We were one of the early adopters of cluster mode. Calling up some NetApp engineers to get some support had some issues, where the senior-level engineers were still the 7-mode people, I would get a list of commands saying, "Here is what you would do if you were running 7-mode." It wasn't super helpful.

Previous Solutions

I did not previously use a different solution; not to the level of storage that NetApp is going to provide for sure. It was kind of a homegrown system that they had.

Initial Setup

I didn't set it up, but I oversaw the initial setup of it by a third-party company. It seemed pretty straightforward.

Other Solutions Considered

I think we compared three different vendors at the time.

We chose NetApp because of our familiarity with it, for one; two, the price was right.
As far as bringing in vendors for storage, it is important that they have experience with whatever storage that we are looking at; what level their engineers are at. The partner that we went with, we knew that they had experience with NetApp in the past, and so we trusted bringing them in to help get the FlexPod set up.

Other Advice

Definitely leverage NFS datastores if you are going to be running VMware. Don't just treat it as any old storage. Think about the fact that NetApp is invested heavily into the WAFL file system and the whole bit.

There is a ton of preparations that you would need to do before implementation. That could be a months-long process. Make sure that you have the right equipment that is going to connect into it; your top-of-rack switches and the whole bit.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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