FlexPod Review

I live by the Validated Designs, and the resiliency means we have zero downtime


What is our primary use case?

We use it to implement our core data center and server environment.

How has it helped my organization?

Due to the way the equipment is all together, with its resiliency, typically we have zero downtime. We run simulations for the military, and the lack of downtime is highly important, given the amount of money we run into it. We don't have to worry about downtime.

Having the capability to seamlessly move from different equipment, that's the way to go.

We have found FlexPod to be innovative, when it comes to compute, storage and networking because of the fact that NetApp and Cisco work so closely in streamlining, specifically with Validated Designs. The networking is there. I don't have a problem with transferring from physical to the virtual environment. It allows us to have that seamless storage. We lose hard drives and we don't even know about it because it's so good. The tools provided with the FlexPod allow us to be more efficient with the smaller team that we run.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of FlexPod is all the vendors' synyergy together. I just have to log in and start working with it. Everything is there, and with the failover I don't even have to worry about the systems too much.

In addition, I live by the Validated Designs. I do exactly what those designs say and I haven't had a problem as a result. For example, they used to do the FCoE. They figured out there was a problem and they went over to the NFS. I moved over and I agreed with them. It worked better.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very resilient, to the point that sometimes we didn't even know it went down, because we don't actually look at our log at times. We find components that were down but it just moves and takes care of itself.

The solution is very stable. Typically, if something goes down, it's a fan or a hard drive. We haven't had any major issues and we've been running FlexPods now for about four years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The only thing we have scaled are the blades within the UCS. The fact that they allow us to use the same chassis and just swap out the blades, that part was interesting for us. Same idea with the NetApp equipment in the FlexPod. We don't have to worry about the shelves. We can replace just the drives and go higher up on that side. It allows us to scale without doing a full-bore rack replacement.

How are customer service and technical support?

Because of my environment, we have dedicated teams. We get instantaneous support. So it's not fair for me to answer this question.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had a mixture of workstations, some rack servers, some floor servers. We knew that wasn't working. We were being pushed to try to virtualize what we could. That's what drove us to it. The fact that we were able to clean up all that, got rid of racks of equipment, it was just the way to go.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We sat down with Cisco and NetApp, as well as World Wide, and said, "This is what we want to see." And they built the FlexPod based upon our requirements. After that initial work, everything came in quite easily.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller, World Wide Technology. I love them.

What was our ROI?

I haven't had to put in a request for new rack space. Our footprint is down to two racks that run our entire core. We run multimillion-dollar exercises through it. But it's hard to quantify ROI because we had nothing previously. We weren't keeping track. And then we went to this system. I just know that in the last four years, other than buying some minor upgrades, we haven't spent any money.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were no other options. I've been with Cisco since 1995.

What other advice do I have?

Go with the FlexPod. It's a very easy solution. There are dedicated minds behind it. You will notice an improvement.

We save time and money with the solution but I don't know how to quantify them because we only have a few physical servers. Everything has been built into it so we haven't had to buy things. So we're not aware of what it would have cost us, by not going with it, because we went all-in on the FlexPod design. Similarly, regarding application performance improvements, I can't say because we went straight into the system.

Regarding thoughts on the solution vis-a-vis private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, unfortunately, we can't move into a cloud other than private. We're starting to investigate how to do it. I don't know how much of a player it's going to be for us, due to our environment. If we deploy it out, it will be used for private cloud, but we don't do so currently.

Realistically, I would rate it a nine out of ten. There's always room for improvement. 


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

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