FlexPod Review

A simple and efficient solution for our DR that has helped reduce our hardware footprint and save costs

What is our primary use case?

Everything with NetApp right now is our DR and restore strategy. We have all of our VMs installed in an on-premises FlexPod.

We have another filter down in our DR site and everything is replicated using SnapProtect and SnapSuite.

The validated designs for major enterprise applications are very important to our organization. We have to make sure that everything is fully supported, end to end, and that we're not going to have any problems. When people have trouble they resort to finger-pointing and complain about the network, servers, or storage. With the one validated design, we contact NetApp and get support for everything we need.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has had a serious impact on our organization. How do you measure not having outages? It has allowed us to do business without any interruptions, which means that I can sleep well at night. After the last hurricane, we were completely up once it ended because we just brought up all of the VMs using VMware.

With respect to the history of innovations, the strategy that NetApp has taken with Cloud volumes online, Azure NetApp files, and all of those things, is good. We've already started using cloud volumes online and we're putting in a new solution with NetApp where we're going to be tiering everything off to Azure because we have a huge presence there. For example, we have an SQL server there, and we're going to be replacing the drives that are on SQL with Cloud Volumes Online so that we can leverage efficiencies. Other data, such as shares, are also going to be tiered off to Azure so that we don't have to be using production cycles, production backups and IOPS and everything, locally. We're instead going to send it to cloud storage.

Using FlexPod has absolutely made our staff more efficient.

This solution has increased our application performance, but we have been using this solution since 2003 and no longer keep metrics.

Our data center costs have been reduced because we've been able to shrink our data center. About ten years ago, we were at about one hundred and seventy servers. Now, we're down to eight blades. We've gone from seven racks down to two racks in the data center, and if you think about power, cooling, and everything else, it's a significant saving.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are efficiency and simplicity. You don't have to waste a lot of time managing things.

What needs improvement?

We have had some problems with SnapSuite and the replication functionality.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution since 2003.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is extremely stable, rock-solid.

We haven't had any failures, hardware-wise, in several years. The only issues that we have had were with SnapSuite, and it was related to replication. For this issue, we engaged with technical support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The unified support for the entire stack is extremely important for us. Anytime we have an issue, even though we haven't had any recently, we need to get it resolved as quickly as possible. Having a single vendor to go to for everything just makes it that much easier.

When we have had to contact technical support, they were very responsive, they follow up, and they take ownership of the issues right away. I would rate them a five out of five. 

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

We have always been using NetApp, although about twelve years ago we went through consolidation. We had Dell storage, some Hitachi, some IBM storage, and then we had a NetApp filer. Our multi-vendor hardware came about from purchasing the cheapest thing that we could get when something else was needed.

When we met with our NetApp rep, they came in and suggested that we consolidate. We had been having trouble with backups, using Syncsort, and they suggested that we move to SnapProtect and get everything on NetApp. They helped us to take everything off of all the other storage, consolidate down to NetApp, and then replace our entire backup solution with SnapSuite and SnapProtect. After that, they made sure that everything would replicate back up to the DR site.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is fairly straightforward. Obviously, you need to know what storage systems are being used, etc, but in general, it is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We use Insight, formerly Datalink, to assist us with the maintenance of this solution. They are excellent. They helped with our implementation and they help us to deploy all of the solutions. If we have any questions about designs, where we are going in terms of the roadmap, etc, then between Insight and NetApp they are invaluable when helping us to make decisions.

What was our ROI?

I would say that we have seen ROI, although I do not have numbers to support it.

What other advice do I have?

I am looking forward to using the cloud enablement that they have been working on.

In the last three years, I lost money that was budgeted for capital expenditures, meaning that I have had to give it back because I literally have nothing to buy. We do have operating expenses and we have the capability, but everything that we are doing is moving into Azure, using managed services and software as a service. This means that we've been reducing our hardware footprint significantly. Especially with the efficiencies that NetApp brings, we don't need as much storage space.

My advice for anybody researching this solution is to evaluate your workloads.

NetApp is definitely the way to go.

I would rate this solution a ten 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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