FlexPod Review

Enables us to have shorter maintenance windows, instant backups, and instant recovery which also minimizes the number of alerts

What is our primary use case?

We are using it internally for one of our departments to provide the platform in which our employees are working to support our customers.

How has it helped my organization?

For us as an IT department, it helped us a lot. Before we implemented FlexPod, we were using different solutions all based on a virtual infrastructure. On VMware, before implementing FlexPod, we had a lot of problems doing backups with disaster recovery. After integrating it, it enabled us to have shorter maintenance windows, instant backups, instant recovery, which also minimized the number of alerts that we get from the application team and from the employees who were working on the application that something is not working. Most of the time the reasons for the alerts were backups that had been done or there were some problems with them. Constantly getting snapshots in a virtual infrastructure. Thanks to FlexPod and thanks to NetApp snapshot technology, we were able to reduce it. Even now at this moment, we do not have any kind of information that there's some kind of issue because of backups.

Unified support for the entire stack is really important. It was one of the major points and one of the major decision-makers. FlexPod offered unified support. Before, when using various companies and providers, we had a lot of issues with support. For example, whenever we were opening a case with one of the vendors, they always said that it's not their problem, it's not with their application. Our solution is because of them. With FlexPod, now we do not have that issue. We can go to one of the partners or one of the vendors and tell them we have a problem and they will help us directly. Then they will tell us that they do see a problem that we have. That it's not with Cisco, please contact NetApp, give us the ticket number from NetApp and then it will work jointly or the other way around. Now it's much easier for us, for the technical teams to deal with all the issues, that we have in our environment.

FlexPod has enabled our staff to become more efficient. We have more time. We have been working with FlexPod for around 10 years now. Since then, we've grown three times. We are still managing the difficult infrastructure with the same number of people. I think it is the best proof that having a unified solution can minimize the admin effort.

It is hard to say by how much FlexPod has improved our application performance but we do see improvement. We do see a lower number of tickets coming to us saying that there's a performance issue with applications or there are some latency issues. Once we switched to FlexPod, especially for the last few years, when we are using AFF, we do really not see any kind of tickets coming saying we have performance issues.

FlexPod has decreased unplanned downtime incidents by a lot. With FlexPod, we have the opportunity to do un-disruptive upgrades. Since we began using FlexPod, I did not see any kind of disaster or any kind of maintenance that would really impact applications or end-users. We could do it basically on a daily basis without any kind of problems because of the redundancy, which we have there and the way the upgrades can be done.

Our data center costs have decreased as a result of having FlexPod. We could reduce the number of racks in which we are using in the data center because of the way FlexPod works. I think that at this moment, compared to what we had before using FlexPod, we still have a lower footprint in the data center as we had 10 years ago.

What is most valuable?

The validation designs, which we are using, are mostly for the deployment of FlexPods, Cisco, VMware, and NetApp. We do not use any validated designs for the application because most of the applications that are hosting our in house-build applications. Wo do not have any validated designs as those are only done internally.

What needs improvement?

In the next release, it would be really good to have some kind of unified update manager or something, which would allow us to update the whole infrastructure from beginning to end. All together like VMware, NetApp to go with Cisco, so that you don't have to do it separately in upgrading the NetApp, separately everything to UCS infrastructure then going with VMware. Something that will allow us to do it together in some integrated manner.

The upgrades should be improved. We would like to have the ability to do unified upgrades of the whole infrastructure from beginning to end. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is really good. We do not experience any kind of stability issues. I think the best proof is what we have now. We are now with FlexPod for a few years. Now we are running the third deployment of FlexPod and we are planning to do another one which will come next year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is just fantastic. There's no problem to go vertical or horizontal. It's quite easy, modular, and can be done online.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is really good, especially when it comes to cooperation between various vendors like VMware, Cisco, and NetApp. At this moment, we do not have any kind of problem with support so we can easily get the kind of support that is needed.

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

Before, we were using a service with VMware, but there were various vendors. We had storage that was delivered by a different company. Your compute by a different company, networking by a different company. We had a big footprint in our data center. Secondly, we had a lot of issues with support, as I said. We were looking at solutions to help us solve the problem. Minimize the footprint in the data center. Minimize the discussions with vendors whenever we are buying something, so that we would not have to go to many different vendors and ask for the pricing and negotiate the price for the solution. 

Compatibility and basically going with FlexPod enabled us to resolve those issues. We can talk with one partner whenever we're buying FlexPod for us. It's just one vendor, it's FlexPod. The support works, we do not have any issue with that. When it comes to integration, we know because of the validated design, that it will work and it will suit our requirements.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite straightforward. We didn't have many issues with it. Of course, 10 years ago when we were starting with it, it was quite a fresh thing. There were not many documents available or validated designers like we have now, but we didn't have any major issues implementing it.

What about the implementation team?

We are using one of our partners, with whom we have been working with for many years. It's a German company, and we are getting really good support from them. Not only when it comes to integration and deployment, but also consulting and design.

What other advice do I have?

We did the research. We went through different vendors when choosing a FlexPod solution. For us at that time, and today, it is the best solution on the market when it comes to converged infrastructure. It has a really easy implementation, which gives you a lot of flexibility with the server profiles, which gives you easy disaster recovery with snapshot technology. If you are looking into such technology, have a look at FlexPod and you'll see that it will suit your needs.

I would rate it a ten out of ten. It gives us all the capabilities that we need. It gives us good performance. It gives us easy disaster recovery. It gives us easy modular upgrades and extensions. Basically, everything we need.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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