FlexPod Review
Easy to use and it centralizes everything into our datacenter, helps us manage it

What is most valuable?

The ease of use. I like that with all the NetApp products, it's very easy to use. I'm on the storage side of it, but we're still working with the servers and we're using the Cis UCS servers. So there are some tweaks that they're still working on on that side of it.

But the original PoC we did came back with very good numbers and looked like it was going to help a lot of our users locally. And we have remote users that will attach to the FlexPod and do their work from say, Houston, logging into Calgary or other places from outside of Calgary. It centralizes everything into our datacenter and it helps us manage it more easily.

The general manageability of it really is easy and it's taking advantage of all the deduplication, compression. We've got 9.1 P3 in there now so we haven't taken the next step to do compaction or anything like that but I'm sure we're going to go down that road too.

How has it helped my organization?

The benefit is the speed, it's the performance. That's what it comes down to is the performance of the solution.

It's the first step of it right now for us. They're still proving some of the server side out from it but we've already pushed out the storage side of it. They're using that storage in their existing, and they are getting better performance, better benefits.

What needs improvement?

I'm not really sure, to be honest. A lot of what it's doing today is exactly what we need, so I'm focusing on some other things at this point around our database environment and things like that. Everything that I've seen right now from a FlexPod perspective is very good.

I think they can always improve, whether it's dedupe or compression, those algorithms; and flash through better SSDs. I guess faster is not really there with an SSD now, but I think anything that makes it smaller, better cooling, less power, those kinds of things. Help in the datacenter.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've had FlexPod in our environment for, I would say about six to nine months. We brought it in to help one of our applications called Petrel. It's IO intensive. It's an application that petrophysicists use to look for oil. That's what they're using it for, so they need performance for projects.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In general, just because I've been working with NetApp products for a lot of years, from that perspective, I don't have outages that I worry about. It's very stable in that sense. I have more problems if my network goes down than anything else, and it's not my problem anymore.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Very scalable. We're already planning how we're going to expand and grow it. They're doing a lot of exploration work so we know it's going to expand so we're already planning for it, and it's going to be easy to do.

How is customer service and technical support?

We've used lots of technical support. I've used it. We've talked to people on the phone, we've done the chats online. All kinds of different things. NetApp's support's always been great for us. They're knowledgeable, absolutely.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved directly in the initial setup. The other guy that I work with was part of the PoC that we did, and then I got a little bit involved later on. He's actually part of the finishing off of it. But the ongoing support and operational part of it, I'm part of that.

They had to jump through a lot of hoops to get things but I think part of it was our own... What we needed to do was listen to the experts a little more to say, "Okay, we have to do it this way versus trying to push our own infrastructure on it." So that's what hurt us. But in the end, really good.

What other advice do I have?

FlexPod is absolutely uniquely valuable for oil and gas, for some of the more higher-intensive products, the software that engineers will use to look for oil They're always looking to be able to do that faster, better and more efficiently.

I gave it a nine out of 10 because nothing's ever perfect. We did run into some hiccups around some different things. Part of that is us, the other part of that is working with the vendors. We weren't utilizing things with the switch properly. When we were having jobs come in from outside to access the storage, because it wasn't going through the Cisco switch and everything else, it was actually a slower grab for them. Once we changed those things and really implemented more of what you should be doing with the FlexPod, that's when we started seeing the performance gains.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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