FlexPod Review
Faster provisioning, meeting SLAs, deadlines, we are able to produce more with fewer resources.

What is most valuable?

I like the management interface in UCS and then UCS Director. I like how I can still automate, the API that you can do with FlexPod - you can work with it through API - which is what we have to have for our environment. We have to produce more with less people. We have to have workflows that can do it a lot faster.

There are a lot of features that the storage and the environment has. I, personally, like the feature with the profiles on the UCS side. You can just take out blades and replace them, and you're back up and running in no time.

How has it helped my organization?

Faster provisioning, meeting SLAs, deadlines. We are able to produce more with less resources.

What needs improvement?

I would think more cloud integration, a lot more flexibility with adapting to different things. Not saying that it does not already. I'm just trying to see if I could do a lot more things with it, in regards to AWS and Azure. A lot more flow.

The mission that NetApp has with the whole fabric, if they can do a lot more with it within the FlexPod, that would be good. They're working on it. Nothing bad to say about it. That's where they're going with it.

Not necessarily with, say, with cloud sync, with cloud ONTAP, with the fabric pools and all that. I guess I want to see other customers do a lot more cool stuff with it, so that I can do it. That's pretty much how I do it. We look at other people, see what they've done, proven, and then we say, "Okay. Let's do it. Let them jump off the cliff first before we go."

I'm thinking vendor agnostic, right? Where instead of having to build your FlexPod, here's your Cisco, here's your Nexus, here's your storage and all that, maybe Cisco can buy out NetApp and then they just have this one big box. Or the other way around. NetApp buys Cisco and then there's just this one box and everything's right on it. You have this big chassis with blades and you just swap everything out. Technically, you could do that with UCS already.

For how long have I used the solution?

About a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. As far as being tested and proven by the different vendors, Cisco, NetApp. But it's also stable in the code, UCS on the NetApp side, on the storage side, on the switch side. It's all proven code. It's been around for a long time. I see it as something that's reliable, stable and the fact that everything's redundant, so you don't have to worry about it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Currently, I think it's great because they support, for example, cluster. You can scale that beyond belief. Then, there's also the UCS domains, you can have multiples in there and expand it, so I think it has no problems scaling.

Unless you're talking a really, really large environment with, say, beyond the petabytes. And even then... Maybe you could run into issues with management, but still I think UCS Director provides value with that.

How is customer service and technical support?

It's a one-stop shop. It's good. I like it. They were knowledgeable, and if they weren't, they knew where to find the information.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We switched because we needed a converged infrastructure.We didn't have it. We had bunch of siloed environments across the board.

We chose NetApp because it helped us unify what we already had. All our training experiences with UCS - we have an environment of UCS, we have VBlock. We decided, "All right. Let's use the training that we already have and let's take UCS and let's take all the virtualization that we have and let's just continue to use it." We had NetApp already, so might as well just take NetApp with it.

FlexPod has been around for a long time. We said, "All right. Let's PoC this," so we PoC'd it. We got a lot out of it, lot of the requirements were met. It worked well for what we had.

How was the initial setup?

Not complex.

Upgrades, the same, not complex. With ONTAP, you just have to pick your order, find out how you can upgrade them and do your UCS, do your Nexus switches, do your storage. Not difficult.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There was Nutanix. We do have a few Nutanix in there. It's just not as well known.

What other advice do I have?

It's easy to manage if you start out correctly. If you don't, if you just spaghetti everything out and do all kinds of weird things within it, and don't keep standards, you always, like anything, create chaos.

We're in the financial industry but I think FlexPod is valuable for a lot of industries, not just this one. I don't see it as a one niche for just financial, could be for everything.

Right now, I think it's a great product. I don't give anybody a 10 unless they're outstanding, perfect in every way.

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

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