FlexPod Review

We have had scalability issues as we have grown into a large company. Though, we have seen an improvement in our application performance.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod is a design with everything in one bag. This helped us initially when we consolidated everything into one box.

It was innovative in the beginning. So, it was a very effective proposal. We were dealing with multiple vendors and support. This initially solved our problems, so we could focus on some other areas. However, we had to come back to it and address other challenges.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable is the one support. I have a 1-800 number. I call one number rather than figuring out whether it's a network, compute, or storage issue. It is beautiful and works out nicely.

What needs improvement?

We have experienced issues with patching. When there are Cisco releases, there are some vulnerabilities, i.e., security vulnerabilities. We are as a financial company and need to be on top patching. As a company, we cannot have continuous downtime to do patching, which is a challenge that we have faced.

Another issues is that Cisco lists some patching, but NetApp is not certified for it, or vice versa. It's very difficult to keep up-to-date all our levels. Then, we slowly started spinning up our own versions of Cisco separately from NetApp and NetApp separate from Cisco. This has worked well for us.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Initially, when we started downsizing our data center, we consolidated a lot of equipment into FlexPod. The fewer racks and companies to deal with: one vendor and one support. This sounded good when we were small. Initially, everything was certified, and read and worked beautifully. However, when we scaled up, because the business grew, we had real scalability challenges, as FlexPod is designed for a small to mid-size customers.

With FlexPod, there is a vertical limit for everything.

It is somewhat resilient. If your company has equally scaled growth in all area, then maybe FlexPod is good. However, if your network is growing 200 percent, but the storage is only 100 percent, or maybe the company is only 50 percent, then the apps didn't scale up right. This will create bigger challenges.

How is customer service and technical support?

Tech support has been good. There are no issues with NetApp or Cisco. 

We would like to see the tech support timing match better with our business needs. This is definitely becoming more challenging.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward. There is a lot certification on the workload, so we don't have to worry about it.

What about the implementation team?

We used ACS, who was good and knowledgeable.

What was our ROI?

Our first couple of years, our ROI was good. It helped us to lower the cost on the management of setup operations. It also helped to maintain the minimal outage window, when there is an outage that happens.

We have saved 50 percent on new service deployments and a 20 percent improvement in application performance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Everything was NetApp initially, but we were independently buying the equipment from Cisco through NetApp. This worked for us beautifully because it was the same vendor who we were dealing with and everything was certified in a box.

What other advice do I have?

There are a lot option based on your workload. Think about the next five years: How will your business grow? Then, is FlexPod is the right way to go?

In addition, what happens when there is a bug identified in one of the layer? Will you need to shut down the whole thing because just you encountered that one thing?

Everything is perfect with the validate designs. However, they are not designed for large customers. They are designed for SMBs and small data centers.

Multi-cloud environments can work well for some use cases, like expanding data centers.

We do not use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud.

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