What is our primary use case?
Over the last year, we've implemented several solutions with FlexPod. We implemented whatever the latest version is. I know we just put one in that was the latest version in a New Jersey school.
Our customers are using on-premise. It's all on premise, but we have implemented solutions that are more hybrid where they are deploying a model where they want their app dev groups to be able to deploy resources much easier to an on-premise infrastructure, as compared to an AWS subscription.
Generally, it's a mix between Azure and AWS. That's what we're seeing from customers overall.
How has it helped my organization?
For a large food distributor using FlexPod, we were able to move them away from traditional server storage, networking, etc. This allowed them to have the ability in both data centers to have hybridity where the FlexPod infrastructure was local and wasn't hosted, then using cloud automation (mainly AWS) and being able to deploy company resources for their teams.
This really opened up a lot of doors for them. Their CIO's mantra was sort of cloud first. Well, here's a way to start on that journey and keep some of your stuff local. I think everybody knows you can't just forklift everything to the cloud. You need cloud readiness assessments: What are your application dependencies and tools that are you using? This is how we came up with the FlexPod approach.
The solution has decreased unplanned downtime incidents at our customers' organizations, specifically in the database and SQL realms. We are talking to some of our customers about containerization as well.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features is its ability to be able to have multiple options. It can be fully on-premise, it can be hosted, or it can be the hybrid model. For customers, this is the biggest windfall.
Having the combined Cisco/NetApp platforms. Having the configuration options to tailor it a certain way. This Is a windfall as well, having options for configuration: small, medium, large, etc. Because every customer is different, and there's no cookie cutter.
It is very important that the solution validates the design for major enterprises. We rely on the validated design, specifically for the customer. When you look at the designs and what you have in mind, the prerequisites have already been done for you. So, it was easy to make the fit a little easier for each customer. Each customer being different.
The solution simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. It definitely simplifies it and aids in going to that journey. Cloud is the last piece of that route and this gives a seamless way to do this.
The solution’s unified support for the entire stack provides one stop shopping.
Data centers are shrinking. These solutions are part of that. Being able to have these solutions which will shrink your footprint in the data center and allow for easy cloud interaction, migration, and deployment.
What needs improvement?
I would like more support for different platforms, possibly different database platforms. I don't know if it supports Oracle today, but that would be a big improvement.
As the product matures, being able to support the things that customers are really looking at. FlexPod is supporting more containerizations, and that's a step in the right direction.
For how long have I used the solution?
I just started working with it. I have only been with my company for about six weeks.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's increased exponentially over time. I'm hearing a lot of this from my peers, as FlexPod has been out for a while now. With the improvements to the different versions, the stability has improved quite a bit.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It is very scalable. Though, I don't had any case examples of where we've had to scale it in terms of customer experience.
How was the initial setup?
This is my understanding, since I don't deploy it. The initial setup is very straightforward compared to its competitors. Compared to an HPE solution, it is exponentially easier to set up. I know that as a fact.
What was our ROI?
It's sort of the one throat to choke philosophy. The customers in particular don't have to call here. If it's easy to get support, it isolates the problem on whatever stack you're running on. So, FlexPod supports multiple stacks. It doesn't just support one hypervisor or site.
The solution has saved our customers' organization in terms of CapEx. E.g., with the cloud availability, it's turned into sort of a hybrid CapEx/OpEx model.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I'm only delving into this solution over the last six weeks or so. I don't have the same level of expertise with FlexPod as I do with other solutions. I'm getting there slowly; trial by fire.
I came from a much larger integrated reseller. I worked more with FlexPods competitors where they really want to have these connectors and bolt-ons in place to be able to deploy something to Azure. As easy as it is to do it to an on-prem infrastructure, that's really where it's going for a lot of the commercial space.
For my current organization, it's opened up a whole new door for us as a NetApp partner to be able to have a competitive product against Dell EMC, HPE, etc., and to what I think to a degree is a better product in most cases, to go after that business. We go after the different verticals as well because we are in both the public sector and commercial space. So, these are much different verticals. Thus, you need to be able to the scalable solution. You need a solution that can meet the needs of these customers. When you're dealing with a healthcare versus a hedge fund, it is very different. Certain other companies they didn't have the same, they weren't able to scale or fit in these verticals.
Put them side by side. Do your diligence. There are other vendors out there. There are three other big players in this field: Dell EMC, Nutanix, and HPE. Obviously, each customer is different. But, if you're really looking at a true solution for hybridity with the ability to deploy to the cloud, take a real good hard look at the FlexPod CI solution.
We sell other products, and there are times because of the customer's relationship with another vendor that we might go with a different solution. However, we certainly look at putting them side by side.
What other advice do I have?
A the product improves over time, it's definitely helped in all-flash CI, private and hybrid cloud deployment, secure-multi-tenancy, end-to-end NVMW, and cloud storage tiering.
We are talking to customers about the solution’s storage tiering to public cloud, but we haven't implemented anything yet.
I would rate them a nine (out of 10). I don't think anybody rates a 10, but FlexPod is close.
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.