One of the valuable features is ease of use. Getting any environment set up is probably the easiest thing to do. You can set up the entire solution in about a day or so. When we have a requirement for a specific project, we don't need to worry about getting into different gears. FlexPod is a converged infrastructure, so when you get it, you have reference architecture. You just install it and start using it. Those kinds of features are really good.
Improvements to My Organization
The storage scales out and you can keep on adding your UCSs. Adding the whole scale-out technology is great. You can grow as you need to and that's a really good feature.
Room for Improvement
I don't think there's much to be improved with the tool since you can now scale out storage. Before that, this was a shortcoming in that you had to upgrade the head every time.
I would like to see the ability to combine a couple of FlexPods into a cluster. You cannot do that now. You cannot combine two FlexPods into a single entity, into a larger FlexPod. To the best of my knowledge, FlexPods are meant to be in silos and you cannot create clusters at all. If there is a way to do that, that would be interesting.
If there could be a FlexPod management piece, then you could manage all your FlexPods from a single console. That piece is missing even though there are some NetApp tools where you can manage. However, those management tools are specific for the storage.
I would like to be able to manage FlexPod as a single entity for all the different components. If there could be a single tool which can monitor all of them together, that would definitely give a big edge. It would be great if you could manage all of your FlexPods from a single location.
The tool is pretty stable. Stability-wise, I would give it the highest rating. If you follow the reference document, in terms of how to set up FlexPod, it's a very stable environment upon which to work.
Customer Service and Technical Support
I have used technical support, but not exclusively for FlexPod; maybe questions here and there related to the FlexPod environment. I don't think we have ever used FlexPod tech support which is there in NetApp. We have pretty competent resources in-house, so we never feel the need to use FlexPod support.
I was involved in the decision to switch to this product. We were looking for a tool that was designed for the way our organization works. We wanted a silo environment for different applications. Since we have segmentation in our company, we have different domains, and FlexPod really does fit in really well in those situations where you need a FlexPod for a particular application or for a job area. There’s an idea of implementing Citrix and VDI on it, so those kinds of applications are really good.
We were the first company to use EMC's Vblock implementation, and it was a Vblock pain. I was not there when the company selected Vblock, but I was told that there were a lot of issues. Being the first customer on Vblock was really a nightmare. We had to move to FlexPod. But it doesn't mean that Vblock was not good. Our timing on the purchase of Vblock was not right. Our expertise in the company was more Cisco driven and FlexPod really fit in well with that.
I was involved in the installation. FlexPod, or any converged or hyper-converged infrastructure, requires a lot of planning. Once you have your planning done properly, you can just work with networking and other teams. If you have a good coordination with the teams, it's pretty easy to set-up.
Other Solutions Considered
I was not involved in the decision-making process. Things have changed since Vblock was launched seven years ago. FlexPod and Vblock both have very similar architecture and I don't see any big pros and cons between them. I think it's just a comfort level with respective companies. If a company has more investment in Cisco and VMware, that's how the FlexPod architecture is designed. I have no comment on Vblock right now.
There were no other vendors at the time. I was going with NetApp only for non-FlexPod environments. That was when we started buying stuff, which was about six years back when there was no competition. However, everybody has their own FlexPod now. Nimble has something like their own stack. Pure has a Pure stack. Everybody's coming with their own converged infrastructure and we are looking around.
When selecting a vendor, partnership plays an important role. A good partner will provide a kind of an independent review of the different vendors. When we select a vendor, we look at:
- Our means
- Our relationship with the vendor
- The standing of the vendor in the industry
- The vendor's new innovative technology
- How the vendor is competing in the market
- How competitive the vendor is in terms of price.
We look at other technologies because other technologies do provide similar kinds of things as NetApp at a cheaper price. That's how other vendors are rolling over each other in the market right now. They can provide the same thing for less money. These are important things, but the company stability and their goodwill in the industry are important factors as well.
Our experience using this tool is that we have been very happy with it for over six year. The solution has given us whatever our company has wanted. It has delivered in a very short time and has quick turn-around for different projects.
I also suggest looking around. NetApp is a good case for us. It really solves our issues. Although there are other solutions available on the market, this tool is definitely worth looking at it.
FlexPod is not cheap and the way things are going, you could probably get the same thing at half the price from another vendor. NetApp has to be very competitive on the prices in order to really compete in this market.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jan 02 2017