What is most valuable?
The single line of support is valuable.
It's a validated design, so there's not a lot of questioning to it. Storage and server compute comes in and it's ready to go. When we needed the storage and compute to run our apps, the FlexPod seemed like the right choice because it was a validated design and setup. There wasn't any question to the config. It came in a rack; plug it in, ready to go.
How has it helped my organization?
The biggest thing is, it just gave us a standardized platform for our virtualization, so it was consistent across the board. Storage was NetApp, compute was UCS and we had VMware on top of that, and it was just plug and play. Everyone knew how that worked.
What needs improvement?
I'd say the biggest area with room for improvement would be some enhancements to the management tools, but from what we saw at a recent NetApp conference, that's coming. I think NetApp's already heard the change and I think that's what's coming. For us, it would've been just some of the management tool changes they've shown us that that's in the works or already coming out with 9.1.
Other than that, I don't have anything else from our use cases. We just refreshed our FlexPods with AFF-based FlexPods. That was pretty much all you could've asked for really.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability is great; we haven’t had any issues.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is great; we haven’t had any issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have not needed to use technical support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
The existing solution was a decade old; we had to invest in a new solution.
How was the initial setup?
Initial setup was straightforward; it took a day.
We've got a good team I guess and some good PS partners. We sat down, we went through the design so we knew what we were getting. The equipment showed up, they implemented it and because it's a validated design and everything's already there, it's just, power it up and go. Then we just move our workload on to it and off we went. We had no issues.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing was competitive against what else was out there. We were already a NetApp shop, so it made it more of a sell for us because we already had the knowledge in-house for NetApp and ONTAP. Going to the FlexPod was easy in that sense.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
The only other one we looked at was EMC. We weren't really thrilled with what they had to offer.
In general, when I’m looking for a vendor, pre- and post-sale support is important: the actual tech support that they provide; the ONTAP support guys, from once it's installed; implementation resource support from the vendor. When it comes to the pre-sales and the design and then the concepts, we've always found that NetApp’s engineers and SCs are always there. They walk us through everything. They validate it all. We get a lot of support out of them and that's a big requirement for us.
What other advice do I have?
For us, the big incentive would be the support that you get out of NetApp and the partners that we have in our town. There are a lot of strong NetApp FlexPod people. Thereare a lot of FlexPods out where we are. If you're looking for a solution that you know is going to work and that you're going to get some solid support and backing from the vendor throughout your process from start to finish, it's going to be the NetApp guys.
I’ve given it a perfect rating based on our experiences. We've rolled out multiple racks of FlexPod and we've never had an issue. We've got two data centers full of it and we've not actually had to call NetApp support. We've never contacted support even when we had a couple of drive failures. They're proactive on that, so the drive shows up and gets swapped out. We never actually opened a ticket for anything other than those two automated ones.