FlexPod Review

Good data center density, scalability, and technical support

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is virtualization with Hyper-V.

We are using Cisco UCS and NetApp together in our FlexPod solution.

The validated designs for major enterprise applications are very important for our organization because we are part of the local government, and this solution is a critical platform for a broad array of applications and services that we provide to the public.

The history of innovations, in particular, the inclusion of all-flash, has had a positive effect on our database performance.

How has it helped my organization?

We are using the solution's tiering to AWS as a backup target for all of our data. It is essentially our DR and it is being sent out to AWS using SnapMirror.

In terms of making our staff more efficient, we have had a mixed experience. It isn't necessarily FlexPod, per se. Rather, we chose the wrong hypervisor. Hyper-V is not well supported. NetApp and Cisco don't know as much about running Hyper-V as they do VMware on top of the platform. It was really our choice of hypervisor that is the negative point.

We have been able to reduce our data center costs since implementing this solution. Three or four years ago, we were able to shrink our data center by fifty percent. This was a co-location leased space that we were able to reduce.

Our capital expenditures have been reduced, I would say, although I do not have exact figures.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the integration between NetApp and Cisco products. 

From the Cisco side, the most valuable features of this solution are the data center density, the deployment, and the management of the servers and the networking.

What needs improvement?

Hyper-V is not as well supported by NetApp and Cisco as VMware is, which is something that should be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Across the board, this solution is very stable. We're very happy. It is very resilient and fault-tolerant. Downtime would usually be due to human error.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

On both the storage and the compute side, this solution is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's unified support for the entire stack is significant. In my experience, I've had situations where we built an architecture that did not have that model. It was difficult because as a customer, we ended up coordinating the support of the multiple vendors.

Our experience with them has been positive. We do have a technical account manager on the Cisco side, and the coordinated support is available if necessary.

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

Prior to this solution, we were using a multi-vendor storage solution that included HP Blade servers with equipment from EMC. We switched to Cisco, which was a strategic management decision.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was complex because we were doing it for the first time. We have some very experienced Cisco engineers on staff, which was key to implementing Cisco UCS because it was familiar to them.

What about the implementation team?

We had a reseller assist us with the deployment, eight years ago. Because this was new for us, NetApp was involved to make sure that it was successful.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options before choosing FlexPod.

What other advice do I have?

There have been some improvements on the Cisco UCS side since we began using this solution. In the earlier days, it was more difficult to upgrade, and there was pain involved during the process. That has gotten a lot better over time.

My advice to anybody who is researching this type of product is to consider their requirements. If their need is for a dense data center that is scalable, then this would be the choice because it scales easier than any other product I'm aware of.

This is a good solution, but our experience hasn't been perfect.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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