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FlexPod Review
As a kind of industry standard, it's nice to have a lot of information about it out there.


Valuable Features

It runs extremely well. Once the initial setup’s completed, it's very steady and continues to run great. Having something that is kind of like an industry standard is extremely helpful, because there's a lot of information such as other customers’ reviews and issues that they ran into; that becomes nice to have.

Improvements to My Organization

For our organization, it makes it extremely consistent across the organization. All of our infrastructure guys are working off of the same things, even if they're at different sites.

We've been able to expand our capabilities with the same manpower.

Room for Improvement

At a recent NetApp conference, I was hoping to hit some of the sessions to see the ease-of-use for setup, to make that a little bit faster. That way, it's not taking a bunch of guys a lot of time to get that set up. As I’ve mentioned, it's run rock-solid for over three years, so there's not a lot of areas with room for improvement.

The reason why I haven’t rated it higher is that the initial setup was extremely difficult. We had transitioned from different technologies and so we were trying to learn, as well as set it up correctly.

Use of Solution

We’ve had it for three years.

Stability Issues

It's extremely stable, at least in our environment. We've had very minimal issues. Most of the time, it's a hardware failure; something along those lines; it’s outside of the control of anybody. Things run for three or four years and then, "Oh no, it broke." It's been extremely stable for us.

Scalability Issues

I know that it's extremely scalable, but when we purchased, we purchased a large amount. We haven't actually exceeded our usage at this point. We're still running at 70% of what we had originally purchased.

Customer Service and Technical Support

The technical support has been great at the customer site that I support. We have vendor support that sits on site, so I can go knock on somebody's door. It's really helpful. They've been very responsive.

Previous Solutions

We were using HP for blades – the HP C7000, C3000s – and the FlexPod. The FlexPod implementation actually was dramatically different for the setup. Once it was set up, it ran a lot more stable.

In terms of speed, we did see an improvement over the HP blades, but we also upgraded from seven-year-old equipment to three-year-old equipment. We had a massive increase. We purchased on a forecast of five years; this is what we think we will be in five years. As I’ve mentioned, we're at about 70% right now. I think that we overpurchased it. It was a dramatic shift when we first got it and it's still holding up well.

Compared to the HP solution that we were previously using, it's considerably more stable, outside of the initial setup. It’s better in almost every way, outside of the initial setup. The stability; the flexibility that it gives us. It is scalable if we ever need to add additional capacity in.

We decided to invest in a new solution when we were migrating to a new data center. We looked at a bunch of different vendors because we were going to put all brand-new gear in. We already used NetApp previously and so we went to the FlexPod architecture to become more standardized across the industry.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was extremely difficult. It takes a lot of time to do the initial setup, at least with the version we had. It looks like there are newer tools that are out to make it a little bit better and faster for the initial setup, but when we first did it, it was extremely difficult.

It took us a few days to get it up and running. That was where the down points were. It took so long to get it set up, where some of the older technologies that we had used set up a little bit faster, but they weren't as flexible or stable with what we were trying to accomplish.

ROI

It's provided a good return on investment. It's allowed us to do more with the few people that we actually have.

Other Solutions Considered

We looked at HP and then we also looked at Dell. I don't remember what the servers were, but it was similar technologies.

We decided to go with NetApp because of the FlexPod. There was a lot more documentation, "Hey, this is how you set it up; this is what we're trying to do."
We already ran Cisco, and we already ran NetApp. Bringing the Cisco UCS chassis in just made sense; having a product that was supportable by all the different vendors. It was more consistent across the board.

Other Advice

Make sure that it meets the requirements that you're looking for as well as being scalable in the future, because data's constantly growing. You have to be able to forecast a little bit forward. NetApp is configurable, and the ease of use will make configuring it a lot easier. That’s probably why I would recommend it: NetApp itself doesn't have a steep learning curve.

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

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