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FlexPod Review
We run much of our infrastructure within this environment.


Valuable Features:

One of the valuable features is that there is generally one throat to choke, if you will.

If you have any problems you can talk to anybody and they'll understand the technical environment you are in, so it makes it easy to troubleshoot.

Whether it's an implementation or a new feature you want to take advantage of, you're troubleshooting an actual problem.

We run pretty much our entire infrastructure within our VMware FlexPod environment. We have application servers, SQL database servers, network monitoring servers, and all our users' data.

All of this is part of the same NetApp system. So pretty much everything that runs at our company, whether it is comprised of financial databases or football analytics, it all runs on a virtual server which is running within FlexPod.

Improvements to My Organization:

The benefits of Flexpod are that we have a small IT team and it makes it easy for everybody to run and connect things. It just works. If we ever do need to troubleshoot, or increase a feature set, or things like that, just knowing that we can talk to someone who understands the environment makes it a lot simpler to get things moving forward so the whole process goes quicker.

Room for Improvement:

ACI is coming and we're going be working with that. The ability to get that implemented within the VMware, Net App, and Cisco environments, so we can have a little better mobility between our different sites would be helpful. I think right now, that's probably a little complicated for us. Other than that, we've just recently moved to flash for our VMs and everything is pretty solid for us and it is working well.

I am referring to how can we improve our NetApp/Cisco/VMware Flexpod installation.  Cisco’s ACI is something we are looking into to see if we create even more flexibility with the networking and security of our Flexpod between our sites and our virtual server infrastructure.

Use of Solution:

We've been using NetApp since 2004, and we've evolved to FlexPod in 2009. I've been involved in the steps all the way, and we've had a great relationship with our integrators, NetApp in general, with Cisco, and VMware.

Stability Issues:

 It really is kind of "set it and forget it" solution. In my job, I'm kind of a Jack-of-all-Trades, if you will. We have to do a lot of different things, so I'm doing not only the VMware, the storage, and the networking, but I also do firewalls, email, and all the other application servers.

The simplicity of the FlexPod and how well it all works together with all the different systems really is a time saver. It's also easy to help teach other people in our department how to handle things. The training process isn't too long. We've been in it for a long time and it's pretty straightforward and we haven't really had any problems with the inner workings of the different systems.

Scalability Issues:

In terms of scalability, we are a highly visible company and we have ten to twelve days a year where there are eighty-thousand people in the stadium. You need everything to work.

On the whole, we are a small, to mid-sized company and everything's worked well. We've scaled it up slowly over the last ten to twelve years, and we've been using our NetApp system and our Cisco network. I know it would scale really large for us, but we're generally a smaller scale.

Technical Support:

I've always had great technical support when it comes to NetApp, or even calling Cisco, or VMware. NetApp has always been really solid for us, and we've been big fans. You get connected pretty quickly to someone, especially if you have a large problem. We don't have a lot of problems, so it's usually not hard to reach somebody, get answers, and find out what we need to do make things work.

Initial Setup:

The setup was pretty simple. It works well, it's not too hard to get everything connected, and you can use the most efficient and best practices.

Other Solutions Considered:

We went through a process recently and we probably looked at six or seven vendors and this solution kept coming back to us. We are a smaller shop, and the flexibility of the FlexPod system, in particular the FAS2650 for us, and all the different protocols that we're running on an all-in-one system, was a no-brainer for us.

When it came back to it, we just stuck with NetApp because it was really the best solution for us. We looked at Pure Storage, Nimble, and Tintri. They all have great feature sets and things like that. However, the assortment of protocols for us was a huge feature set, and not being locked into just doing the block level protocol. We really wanted to keep our systems in place. It's really nice to have just that one pane of glass for our storage system. So, NetApp was really a no-brainer to stick with.

Other Advice:

I guess it depends what your roles are. We are a one-stop shop, so we have to do all these different things. So for us it was important to accomplish a lot of different goals with one system. So, I would just ask someone: "How easy do you want things to be? Is support important to you? Is it important to work with different vendors who all know how the whole system works? How much time do you need to save when you're doing support?"

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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