What is most valuable?
- The ease of deployment: You don't have to worry about dealing with all three components from three different vendors.
- The support structure: Now when you can open cases, you call either vendor and tell them it's a FlexPod case, they'll hook up with all the rest of the resources from different domains, if needed. That's the best part.
How has it helped my organization?
It's less resource-intensive, given that it comes in a package. You don't have to deal with all the companies yourself.
- The whole packaging
- Support structure
The above all help to increase the productivity by reducing the deployment and configuration time, and also adhere to best practices as well.
What needs improvement?
Compared with other converged solutions, there are better support systems, but you pay for the premium. But outside the support systems, they know what they're doing, and the resolution time is much better, because I've dealt with the other systems as well.
Maybe in the future, they could include the HCI solution into the mix. Maybe the newer solutions, like the ONTAP Fabric Pool or ONTAP Select, as well down the line could be added. That would be nice.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
It's straightforward. It has gotten better. I'm not in touch with the newer deployment methods, but I haven't seen issues, so I think we are good on this.
It would be nice if we can allow config management tools like maybe SaltStack or Puppet. We are comfortable with SaltStack. It would be nice to not only use it for deployment as well as to manage the configs, top to bottom, because that is something we need to have a better handle on, to make sure we are consistent across the board.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's good. We know that all the different companies, Cisco, NetApp and VMware, they all are pretty stable in their own markets. Therefore, as long as we adhere to the best practices, and make sure we don't oversize or undersize, we should be good.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability is sometimes a challenge for us. The way we are growing, sometimes we don't know what the demand is going to look like. It's hard to expect what demand is going to come by forecasting through purchase, going through the cycle. I feel that there is a scope for improvement here.
Make it more like On Demand. Make FlexPod On Demand, maybe the compute piece or storage piece. Also it would be nice if they could know our datacenter footprint, so they know how much we can grow. That would help minimize the time for scaling, because those were some of the challenges we faced frequency around datacenter space and to figure out where things to plugin.
How are customer service and technical support?
It's good. Sometimes, we find ourself waiting for the right engineer to be available. It takes time to escalate to the right person. We had these meetings with the support organization a couple of times, and we told them that we'd rather wait for the right engineer than to spend time going over the same stuff and going nowhere.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
It was there before I came.
What other advice do I have?
In some aspects, they are pretty good, and in other aspects, they need improvement.
For someone looking at FlexPod and similar solutions: I tell them to go with whatever works for them, as it's organization-specific and resource-specific, because the in-house knowledge-base also weighs in, and it's a big deal because you don't want to spend time working on your learning curve.
If it was just a suggestion, you can make any product work as well, as long as you design it properly, you don't over utilize it, and you make sure you follow up with the vendors and do the recommendations. At the same time, the vendors follow up with us and keep us up-to-date and know our pain points and work towards them. Therefore, I would recommend FlexPod.
Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:
- Make sure the product delivers what they advertise. That's primary, because we don't have enough time to PoC all the different aspects.
- Give more flexibility in terms of purchasing, the roadmap, and involve us when they come out with new products and/or get our feedback.