FlexPod Review
We use it for VMware, Hyper-V, and XenServer.

Valuable Features

We are running mostly virtualizations. We use it for VMware, Hyper-V, and XenServer. On top of that, we use it for some Microsoft, Linux, Oracle SQL, and web development.

Improvements to My Organization

It's just a nice simple solution. There is a single number to call for support. If you call and say that you have a FlexPod, they will usually include the VMware or UCS pieces for you. You don't have to call Cisco or VMware directly. You can just call your FlexPod help center, and if they know it's a FlexPod, they'll help you with NetApp questions. They will also help you with VMware and Cisco UCS questions.

Room for Improvement

I would like to see a single upgrade download, so you could download an upgrade that would upgrade the NetApps that would have all the parts. Right now, you have to go and download the VMware upgrade pieces from the Cisco website. You have to download the Cisco stuff from their site, and then download the NetApp stuff from their website. It would be helpful if they had a single download area for the versions that work together. I can't think of anything else to improve. They support all the protocols: SCOE and NFS.

Stability Issues

There are no issues at all with stability. Everything is redundant. The Cisco UCS platform is rock solid. The switches are rock solid. You have Nexus switches that are redundant in power and in usability. The NetApps are all rock solid because they have dual controllers. You are running cluster modes so you have lift migration and you have storage failover. There's really no downtime because everything is virtualized and everything is redundant.

Scalability Issues

Scalability is great. All three parts are real scalable. If you want to add more things to your VMware, you just add the ESXi host. To add to more to the UCS, you just add more blades. To add more to the NetApp, you just put more controllers or shelves under the cluster. The scalability is the same with all three products.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is awesome. We own a FlexPod, and so do my customers. They've seen a lot of stuff. They've worked with all three vendors. You don't have to call the other vendors, and they usually will bring in resources as needed.

Previous Solutions

We look at reports out there, and see who is up and to the right. I think that Pure Storage was leading the charge on SSD for a while, but the all-flash FAS has really been awesome.

The ability to do better deduplication is what the differentiation is right now. Who is doing the best deduplication and who is doing the best compression? Right now, the all-flash FAS with 9.2 is pretty awesome on deduplication and compression.

Other Advice

Go look for somebody who is doing it and has been doing it for a while. The FlexPods have been shown to be reliable. They work with two of the best vendors. Cicso: For the compute and for the networking, you can't get better. VMware: For the virtualization. They just work great together. There are other converge solutions out there like EMC, but I think that these are the three agnostic ones. EMC obviously owns a piece of VMware, so it's hard to know what parts they want to play. Maybe Pure Storage is the other agnostic, but I believe that NetApp, right now, is doing the best converged FlexPod design in the FlexPod space.

There was a lot of documentation around it, in terms of what works with what. Customers know that if they upgrade their NetApp to version 9, they know what versions of UCS they need to upgrade to and what versions of VMware will work with that.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.

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