FlexPod Review

The most valuable thing for me is the shorter time to market

How has it helped my organization?

It takes the time to market, then shrinks and shortens it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable thing for me as a partner, as well as our customers, is the shorter time to market. 

In addition, the most important pieces are:

  • The partnership between NetApp and Cisco.
  • The engineering effort and time.
  • The resources that they put into writing the CBDs.
  • Doing all the lab validations.
  • Having this product supported as a converged infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

Both NetApp and Cisco need to do improvements in their day-to-day operations management upgrades, and they are working on it. 

A piece where FlexPod has come up short in the past and an area for them to improve upon: single pane of glass management and single pane of glass upgrade process. It gets a tricky, because there are two different companies and two different partnerships. You do not buy it as a single product; you buy it all at once, and deploy it. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is extremely reliable. The length of time of this whole program has been reduced, greatly. FlexPod is very innovative on a month-to-month basis, but it is also extremely stable and well-supported because of the leadership and partnerships put in place.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It does scale well. I do not want to infinite scalability, but it is no different than a traditional data center. Silos, network, and storage, and compute; it is all of those same components. It is just prevalidated and predesigned. 

I used an analogy the other day. Someone learning how to cook and someone else figured out the entire recipe for you, you just have to cook it. When you go to scale, you can scale whichever pieces of the infrastructure that you need, either collectively, or you can leave it.

How is customer service and technical support?

Because of the length of time that FlexPod has been around, it has been proven. The support center, Level 1 all the way through to the specialists, understand how the program works. NetApp's support understands the partnership with Cisco, VMware, and Microsoft, and the entirety of the system. 

At this time, they have become very good at understanding limits. They can have a management and/or partner issue during the deployment and still maintain the ticket. Our customers love it.

How was the initial setup?

It is very straightforward. 

If we had never done it before, someone else has been the design guide, someone else has been the deployment guide, and it is step-by-step. If you have never deployed NetApp or Cisco before, you can follow these guides. If you have, they are just an augmentation of what you already know, and just a bunch of best practices, so you can get it up and running in a much quicker fashion.

What other advice do I have?

It has a lot of big partner resources, which are consistently behind it, such as thousands of engineering hours and new CBDs coming out every year. It has both proven infrastructure which has been running for the eight-plus years, as well as being innovative. Every time Cisco comes out with a new Blade, Fabric Interconnects, or new switches, or NetApp comes out with new arrays, they are being integrated into the product that year as well as being integrated into the rest of the data conference suite. From that perspective, you are not really inventing anything; you are taking proven things and implementing them in a particularly efficient manner.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.

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