It 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 servers, which are supervisory control and data acquisition systems for power systems. We also run a lot with OSIsoft's PI solution.
Improvements to 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 the server side. It saved us a lot of time. It probably cut our management time into server-network troubleshooting, or just normal management, by 40%.
Room for Improvement:
Right now I can't think of any, 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 are 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 yet. It's probably just added more speed, but we're limited by our connections out to the field anyway.
It's been very stable. We had one or two issues with a spinning disk, but there has been no impact to the network as a whole.
Scalability has also been great. We have been able to spin up new virtual machines as needed. We haven't run into any bottlenecks.
My server side technical lead worked with technical support more than I did. I think he's been very impressed with how good and responsive they are.
We needed to migrate away from our older servers. When we did the cost analysis through the FlexPod, and replacing each individual server, it just made more financial sense with the FlexPod in the long term. We were using individual Dell servers, or HP servers, it was kind of a mishmash.
I was involved with the initial setup as the network engineer at the time. That went very smoothly. The most surprising thing was when I connected Cisco Prime and had it search for a new sister device, it pulled in that app, or the UCS part of it, the fabric, and the connects, automatically.
Other Solutions Considered:
We had looked at the EMC VNX series. I wasn't too involved in that, I only got pulled in when it came in to interfacing with the network.
We chose Flexpod over EMC because FlexPod had the Cisco commonality to it. That was one of the major reasons we went with the FlexPod. 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.
I'd say, go for the NetApp with the Cisco UCS. It definitely will cut your management time down and it's a very reliable solution.
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