FlexPod Review
A converged platform with a good support model.

Valuable Features

  • It is a converged platform.
  • It is a support model. I can call directly into NetApp and our customers can call directly into NetApp. And when they're troubleshooting an issue, whether it's on virtualization, their compute, the storage side, they have that one level of support. This is big thing for our customers.
  • The simplicity of the model itself.
  • The overall management aspect of it.
  • Being able to manage using tools like OCI from NetApp.
  • Being able to manage the entire pod, create things, provisioning, automation, and orchestration. Those are built in to converged stack. That's a big help for our customers.

Improvements to My Organization

One of the biggest benefits is the workloads that it can manage. It's not tied to a specific workload and is very diversified. You can do backups on it, you can do production data, you can run virtuals, you can run bare metal, and it will support almost every workload that you can have.

Room for Improvement

For me, it's the integration with things that are not part of an ONTAP solution. It is simple management platform that I can manage my NetApp from an ONTAP perspective to the E-Series, to a StorageGRID, to a SolidFire environment in one management layout. That would be the one thing I would want the ability to do.

Deployment Issues

Deployment is a whole lot better now than it was five years ago. It's very simple. We can stand up a standard FlexPod usually in a matter of a half a day. That involves racking, stacking, and starting the configuration of the aggregates, or the Cisco platform, that goes with it.

Stability Issues

Stability is built on the redundancy of the platform itself. So you have redundancy throughout the system. The storage platforms have redundant controllers. Customers are very very comfortable with a model, knowing that it is going to be up 24/7/365.

Scalability Issues

In terms of scalability we can scale to a cluster in CDOT, but we had issues. The cluster CDOT and the evolution of that platform ensures that we had the right mixing rules, because there challenges around that piece of it. So scalability is a big selling point for our customers, and knowing that it's not "rip and replace" is a big thing.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support, from a NetApp perspective, is a model of having an eco-system of Cisco,NetApp, and VMware, or 1800 number that I could call into. In our case, we actually have a network operation center. We place first call for our customers, and then we call directly into a service line. It makes our life much easier and it streamlines the process just for customers.

We get the Level-3 guys and we've had a great relationship with NetApp, and that really helps as well. I can't speak for new partners, who are just coming on, but for us, it's been fantastic.

Initial Setup

I was involved in the initial setup. I do all the architecting, I do the set up and configurations for some of our customers. In my previous company, we sold 194 FlexPods to the Department of Veterans Affairs. We architected that entire solution and we helped with the deployment process. We've been very involved in that.

Other Solutions Considered

Really in a converged stack, not a hyper-converged, because NetApp doesn't have hyper-converged, now with SolidFire. From a converged stack on a FlexPod, we do work with VCE on the Vblock aspect. We work with HPE on their platform as well. Those are usually the three that we have been competing against. The advantages of NetApp over competitors is honestly the price. There are aspects of VCE and Vblock that have a better overall management stack, than what we have on the FlexPod side. But from the perspective of cost, we always win with NetApp on pricing.

Other Advice

So the first thing is you have to know your workload. A lot of customers go in, and what they do is they push on infrastructure without understanding the applications. So to any customer, I always tell them, you have to do an assessment of the application, understand the characteristics of the application. That will drive the solution, whether it's all-flash, whether it's a hybrid model, or whether it's just spinning disc. So until we know the application stack, I don't even talk infrastructure.

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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