FlexPod Review
Simplifies the stack - we got it because it's a one-stop shop for compute, and the networking aspect of it.

Valuable Features

The initial reason why we got it is because it's a one-stop shop for your compute, and the networking aspect of it. We wanted a sort of one-throat-to-choke approach; if we ever had any problems, we would get the teams onboard instead of finger-pointing back and forth. That's probably the biggest draw of FlexPod for us.

Improvements to My Organization

It simplifies the whole stack, and allows us to worry about other IT problems and not have to struggle with stack issues, basically.

We used to have HP C-series and kind of a hodgepodge network. We had, probably, four different vendors. Because of that, we were having a lot of problems with networking and the blades. Once we got FlexPod, all that stuff went away. It was nice.

Room for Improvement

The user interface isn't as friendly as I would like it to be. I would like to see UCS ditch Java and go with HTML5, just to make that a little simpler. Other than that, NetApp is making good changes. The tools have gotten dramatically better over the past two years, which has helped a lot. Cisco – I generally don't do too much of the networking stuff – but it's still kind of best to use the command line, so I guess they could improve the command line interface.

If there could be an integration between Cisco and NetApp, the single pane of glass works well if you can get it all to actually work and get the data that you need easily and quickly. That could definitely help.

Stability Issues

I have not encountered any stability or scalability issues. This thing has been running great. We actually really like it. It works well for us, we run about 400 VMs off of it, split between two data centers but it's a good performer.

Customer Service and Technical Support

NetApp’s technical support is probably one of the best, in my experience. I've dealt with, probably, Microsoft being the lowest, because they suck, or sometimes, if you’re in Unix land, you have to just find your own solutions. I think NetApp’s good. They're right up there with Cisco, as far as support goes; very good experience overall.

Previous Solutions

We knew we needed to invest in a new solution because we were at capacity on our blades and we needed to move to something else. Cisco UCS at the time was just kind of up and coming. I think we really made the right decision, because their one-profile approach of propagating all the configuration data down to the blades was really nice.

Initial Setup

I was involved in the initial setup and we had a consultant too. I was just getting into it so, for me, it was kind of complex but looking back on it, it really wasn't that bad.

Other Solutions Considered

We looked at HP and we looked at Dell, but we ended up going with Cisco and I'm really happy with it.

Other Advice

We've already had businesses come to us and say, "What do you use?" We just tell them about the whole FlexPod idea and what kind of benefits it brings: the scalability, the one-throat-to-choke kind of support. We've had a couple of companies take our advice and they were happy with it too.

In terms of homework to do before implementation, you have to look at your workloads and see how you're going to use it. In our experience, we have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at it and it actually performs really well. We've had very little problems, very little problems.

When I look at working with a vendor, I like one that takes an approach of making decisions in your interest. You can usually sort out pretty quickly whether they're there to just push gear or raw services, or if they're actually there to be a partner to help you succeed in the landscape. You can shake that out usually within a few meetings to see how they're really going to be. I’ve found that in NetApp.

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

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