What is most valuable?
The valuable features are the ease of use and being able to make one call to tech support when I'm having an issue; I can call Cisco. As they're drilling down, if they see it's a NetApp issue, then they reach out to NetApp. I don't have to make that call.
The simplicity of the design is already in place. It's easy for implementation; that's what we've liked about it.
How has it helped my organization?
The benefits are quicker implementation and that we have a baseline, because we go by the FlexPod design structure.
We use a VAR to help us implement these items. With their assistance, and our guys, we're usually able to take care of it fairly quickly.
What needs improvement?
I’d like to see some more troubleshooting capabilities; being able to drill down and pull reports easier, especially from the Cisco side. That would be great. Unfortunately, from what we've seen on the Cisco side, you have to download logs and upload them to their tech support to get any true information. Being able to see some real-time functionalities of troubleshooting would be nice.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
After the initial turn up of the FlexPod setup, we haven't had any major outages. We've had one or two minor hardware failures, but it didn't cause a complete outage. The call-home features reported it, and the items were already shipped to us, next day. We had the items replaced, but there was no impact to end users.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability-wise, we do like the features of the Cisco UCS pieces. We're just now learning about the NetApp piece of the FlexPod. As far as that, we haven't really scaled it much. We only have one FAS8080, but we're curious to see how easy it's going to be in the future.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We had outgrown our EMC array and we were looking at alternatives. We began talking to multiple storage vendors. We selected NetApp because they are Meditech approved, which is our EMR at the hospital. We had spoken with a few other hospital entities that have had NetApp in their environment for quite some time. We're very pleased with it.
How was the initial setup?
After our initial reviews and design with our VAR, initial setup actually worked out very well. We already had Cisco UCS in place. Racking the NetApp array, we had that done in probably two hours, and then it was powered up and provisioning within 3-4 hours; in less than a day, we had it up and going, which was really nice.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I looked at Pure Storage and Nimble; we did go back to EMC because we had been an EMC shop. As far as the ease of being able to install it quickly, without having to do a complete redesign of our SAN environment, was very appealing, as well as price point. The price point was quite good compared to the others we looked at.
What other advice do I have?
Do your reviews. Put some thought into what you want and what you need. Try to plan out 3-5 years. Give yourself an idea of your growth. Things like that. How you want to be able to manage that. Make sure that you have all those ideas down and discuss them before you start implementing anything; especially with the FlexPod, because there are so many options. You want to make sure that it's going to sustain you, not just now, but 3-5 years out.