What is most valuable?
It has simplified our server farm. We were able to consolidate down to one rack from the three or four server racks we had before. We were running a lot of SCADA servers, which is a supervisory control and data acquisition system for power systems. We also run a lot with OSIsoft's PI solution.
How has it helped my organization?
It definitely gave us a more robust system than our original, old, individual servers. It also simplified management, both on the network side and on the server side. It saved us a lot of time. It probably cut our management time of server-network troubleshooting, or just normal management, by 40%.
What needs improvement?
I can't think of any improvements, because we're so specialized in our environment. I think maybe going to a full solid state would be beneficial. I don't know how beneficial it would be for us in the power industry, because a lot of our equipment in the field is maybe 20-30 years old.
We're interfacing with a lot of older devices. We're using the Fabric Interconnect back to our Nexus chassis, so I don't know if we can go up to 40GB. It's probably just having more speed, but we're limited by our connections out to the field anyway. Speed would be the area where we would like to see room for improvement.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's been very stable. We've had one or two issues with a spinning disk, but there was no impact to the network as a whole.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability has also been great. We have been able to spin up new virtual machines as needed. We haven't run into any bottlenecks.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have used the technical support. I know my server-side technical lead has done it more than I have. I haven’t heard him complaining. I think he's been very impressed and the responsiveness has been very good.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We needed to migrate away from our older servers. When we did the cost analysis through the FlexPod, and the cost of replacing each individual server, it just made more financial sense going with FlexPod in the long term. Previously to this solution, we were using individual Dell and HP servers. It was kind of a mishmash.
How was the initial setup?
I was involved in the initial setup. I was the network engineer at the time. That went very smoothly. The most surprising thing, was when I connected Cisco Prime and I had it search for a new Cisco device, it pulled in that app, the UCS part, the fabric, and the connects, automatically.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We had looked at the EMC VNX series at the time. And that point, I wasn't too involved. I only got pulled in when it came to interfacing it with the network. They chose FlexPod over EMC, due to the Cisco commonality to it. That was one of the major reasons why we went with the FlexPod. We knew Cisco, and we worked with Cisco already. I had some experience at a previous job with the VNX, and that was a very good solution as well. But, for our environment, we were trying to standardize on Cisco, and that was a big selling point.
What other advice do I have?
Go for the solution with the Cisco UCS. It definitely will cut your management time down, and it's a very reliable solution.