FlexPod Review

Easily upgradable, scales well, and saves us money in operating expenses

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for all of our tier two and tier three storage, in all of our business units.

The ability to scale on demand allows us to get the capacity for the customer in a much more efficient manner in a better timeframe.

How has it helped my organization?

From an infrastructure standpoint, we have more cohesiveness between the teams. This was a concern to us and we're working to solve it so that we can operate in a more efficient manner.

From an ESX node standpoint, using this solution has reduced our footprint tremendously. I would say that it has decreased by approximately thirty-five percent.

We have done a lot of consolidation on the storage side. We have been able to put into one cluster what would have taken three or four in the older environment. It benefits us because there is less administration.

Some of our applications were on solid-state flash disks and some were on a hybrid platform. This new configuration is all-flash, solid-state, so nobody should have complaints about the performance.

The storage performance has most likely increased anywhere from ten percent to probably twenty percent, attributed to the all-flash, solid-state hardware.

We have seen a more efficient use of compute resources because we have fewer nodes committed. I would say that we are probably thirty to thirty-five percent more efficient.

Our maintenance costs have absolutely been reduced. We were going to have to pay between one and two million dollars, and by putting this in, we're avoiding those costs.

Our TCO has been reduced because one big piece of our former infrastructure was made up of Cisco SAN switches, and they are pretty pricey per port when you're using fiber channel. Now, we're using iSCSI, so we're saving a lot of money.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for me is that you can swap out pieces when you have to lifecycle your equipment. You never have to go through a big freeze, but instead, do small pieces at a time. It reduces the migration hassle.

The tools bring the compute and storage together so that we can see it in a single pane of glass.

What needs improvement?

I would like to be able to pull in a file to specify a configuration upfront, rather than go through a lot of screens. There is a lot of manual effort there, and that is one place that mistakes can happen.

In the SolidFire interface, if you use the GUI, you have to create one run at a time, or one device at a time, which is something that needs to be fixed. Having to do that is ludicrous.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good so far. We have had some drive-type issues where we had to apply a new code level, but in my opinion, it is just part of the normal business transactions. The storage nodes cause certain drives to act as though they've failed, but they really haven't. You just have to remove them, re-insert them, and they work again. It is a bug.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've grown and grown, and we've done it all online, so there are no concerns around scaling from a storage standpoint.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have been in contact with technical support a few times. Not a whole lot. I don't have any concerns with them.

How was the initial setup?

The setup of this solution is lengthy and complex, but we have been speaking with people about how to make it more efficient.

The complexity has a lot to do with when you're initially setting the equipment up. There's a lot of values that you have to plug into their various screens, and then you also have to do a reboot to pick up whether it's going to be a storage node or a compute node. Then, they're looking to fix status too, and you have to do a reboot after that, so you lose forty-five minutes and if you have a large install, that's a long time to build the environment.

What about the implementation team?

We used some of the professional services that were tied to the bundled packages.  We also obtain our hardware and resources through a third-party called WWT, and everything is great with them.

What was our ROI?

ROI is difficult to figure out but I can say that we have had two to three million dollars in OE savings by deploying this and getting rid of older equipment.

What other advice do I have?

Even though this is a fairly new product, it is very appropriate for business solutions, and not just your mom-and-pop shops. It scales rather well, and to me, the big thing is the rolling upgrade scenario as far as when it comes time to lifecycle your equipment. 

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

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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