FlexPod Review
It leveraged existing technologies we had with new blade server technology and NetApp's expandable storage.

Video Review:

Valuable Features

For our company, the FlexPod solution really hit a sweet spot because it leveraged existing technologies we had with new blade server technology and NetApp's scalable, expandable storage.

Improvements to My Organization

We were due for a server hardware refresh, and so we examined solutions from several vendors. We worked out an impressive deal with Cisco to go along with NetApp, who we're already a customer of and VMware vSphere. When we brought that all together, things just fell into place.

Room for Improvement

Management is still by separate screens. I need to go to NetApp to manage the enterprise storage. I need to go to the vCenter client to manage VMware, and I've got the UCS Manager. My best hope is some kind of combined client in the future.

Use of Solution

We've been using FlexPod for just over three years.

Stability Issues

We've had one stretch of downtime. It was very short. Unfortunately, it happened on a weekend, and it was related to the failure of a hardware DIMM in one of the blades. Our partner and Cisco worked very quickly to remedy that.

Scalability Issues

I can give you a perfect example of how this FlexPod solution is scalable. When we first put it in, we had our baseline activities WE wanted to do. Then shortly afterwards, the company decided to go to JD Edwards as a ERP system. We needed to buy additional compute resources. It was quite simple to buy another chassis, some more blades that were aimed for that solution, and buy additional shelves of disk and just connect it to our NetApp filer.

Customer Service and Technical Support

The support we've got from NetApp has been pretty flawless. If something has gone wrong, it's usually been something like a disk fails. For enterprise storage, that's a given, but we've not had any issues where we've had any appreciable downtime outside of scheduled maintenance.

Initial Setup

It is complex. I would recommend to anyone considering a FlexPod to get a partner who has done it before because with FlexPod there's a lot of work up front, but if you get it right up front, everything beyond there is smooth sailing.

I mentioned earlier that we added additional chassis and blades. Because we had done the work ahead of time, set up the templates and profiles for the blades, it was very simple to just insert the blade, power it on, apply that profile, and it's up and ready to go.

Other Advice

I look for a vendor with an established history of innovation of stability. That's one of the things with NetApp and Cisco. They're leaders in innovation in their fields. I'm entirely confident in the solutions I have with them today and the solutions they're going to provide tomorrow.

Recommendation to peers: I would recommend that they would really regret it if they didn't at the very least invest in and consider a FlexPod solution.

I'd give it firm 9.5, simply because I don't believe in giving tens out. Literally, it's been in our situation pretty flawless.

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

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