FlexPod Review

Our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot

What is our primary use case?

We have a customer who is looking for a converged infrastructure to deploy multi-cloud solutions for on-premise solutions.

Our customers use FlexPod today. Our impressions of it are great. It fits our customer's demands. We like the way that it integrates into their environments. Being that Netapp and Cisco have partnered together on it, along with VMware, and Microsoft, there is a good relationship with all of those companies working together.

How has it helped my organization?

We can get designs built quickly and into the customer's doors; essentially, our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot. Not only that, FlexPod does a stellar job being able to run workloads.

What is most valuable?

  • Its flexibility
  • The continuous innovation
  • All the thought that goes into the product.
  • The backing teams who are behind it.

It's all converged into one consolidated platform, which works well together.

The validate designs are great. They are a reference point that you can provide to the customer base to convey what the designs look like as a whole. You can go in, reference how components work together as a whole, what firmware versions you need to run, and what those configurations need to look like. They are helpful in time to deliver to customers.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see programmability into a SaaS-based offering, as I know Cisco's going in a lot of directions with their Intersight application. I would like to know how that will integrate into converged infrastructure onsite, where it can either be the Intersight application running on the FlexPod or a SaaS-based offering on the cloud. Then, how would they maybe integrate some of the NetApp features into Intersight? This is the next step that I want to see taken with the product.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a stable environment. The solution is resilient. There is a redundancy that is built inside of the platform, even down to the power. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can grow within the environment or you can scale to a different pod architecture. It allows for easy scaling. You can scale within or outside of it. So, it's resilient and scalable, which makes it a great platform.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great. 

  1. The technical support will do handoff support between the multiple vendors which the customer is working with that. 
  2. They have a support level which takes the Level 1 calls. The customer calls into it, and it's a single reach number. The customer has the capability to call in and have the solution or trouble ticket worked on or look into.
  3. For partners, they have a support model which allows us to take a Level 1 support call and help the customers out as well. 

There are three support levels that FlexPod works within, which is great.

How was the initial setup?

Once you have a plan, it's around 80 percent planning and 20 percent execution. As long as you follow the CVDs and understand what information is going into them, collecting all the information upfront. 

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrator and do the deployments of the solution.

What was our ROI?

It has saved us hundreds of man-hours by using this converged infrastructure.

From our customer's perspective, they're not spending much time on troubleshooting, resolutions, etc. They have a solid platform which allows them to run applications, workloads, and have their business running at a top level.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Because of the way they slice things up, you have FlexPod Express, FlexPod Datacenter, and FlexPod Select, which allows you to go small, medium, and large with multiple locations.

  • If you have ROBO locations, you can go to Express.
  • If you're looking at a converged infrastructure, you can use FlexPod Datacenter.
  • You can use FlexPod Select if you need to have that pocketed application which needs top-notch performance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We work with multiple vendors being a channel partner. We work with all different types: HPE, Dell EMC, and Cisco. We love working with them. Their teams are awesome to work with, and it only makes sense since Cisco's partnered with Netapp. There's not a big stretch in an alliance thing. They have a great partnership together, so there are not competing in the same space, especially when it comes to converged infrastructure.

What other advice do I have?

It is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking because they are continuously updating the UCS infrastructure and continuously adding new FAS and AFF units into it. They're continuously updating the Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs), so there's definitely innovation which goes into it, almost on a daily basis. They continue to update the number of CVDs available, so it makes our life a lot easier on the sales delivery side. 

For on-premise solutions, it allows our customers to be able to move workloads in and out of the cloud. This allows for the hybrid model. It gives on-premise security, but if they have workloads that require cloud-based applications or containerized applications, then they can the capability of moving their workloads into the cloud. So, it's all about application overloading.

There is a lot of information on www.flexpod.com. I recommend using that as a starting point. There are CVD links there too.

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