What is our primary use case?
The primary use case that we have is we like the support model of the FlexPod. We like it being converged with NetApp storage, Cisco, UCS, and VMware. We like having a single point of contact phone number for all support inquiries. These are some of the main selling features that we enjoy about FlexPod.
How has it helped my organization?
The validated design is really important for us because it gives us a model on which to base our architecture and continued support for all firmware upgrades. It also provides consistency throughout the environment.
FlexPod is making our staff more efficient. They don't have to spend as much time validating infrastructures and designs because that has been already taken care of out-of-the-box. The support model makes it a lot more efficient in the case of incidents.
What is most valuable?
The unified support is the most valuable feature. What I really enjoy about FlexPod is the support model. You have a single point of contact number for all troubleshooting issues and the vendor that you call takes ownership of the case. It goes with the NetApp validated designs, which are based on Cisco, which is really interesting.
The features of FlexPod that have had an impact on us are the new additions that we have made with the all-flash arrays: added performance, and flexibility management. These are very nice features.
What needs improvement?
If they could reduce some of the complexity at the system manager level for ONTAP. I find it gives a lot of flexibility. You can do as much or as little as you want. But to be able to do as little as you want, you do have to do a lot. So, if they could bring that down to a more manageable effort level, that would be nice and simplify it a bit.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability has been awesome. No outages to report throughout the whole stack since we implemented the whole Flexspot solution. So, it's been really stable, which is nice.
FlexPod has reduced the downtime in our environment because of the fact that we have a validated design and all the firmware is up-to-date, validated, and matched up across the entire platform.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We will see if it can scale, because it's still fairly new.
How are customer service and technical support?
FlexPod is improving our business by giving us rapid support and rapid response to incidents.
The FlexPod unified support was really important for us in a case where we contacted one of the associated vendors. They redirected the case, taking charge of it, and really speeding up the process of troubleshooting with the other associated vendors, who are included with FlexPod
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was was very well coordinated between NetApp and us. It was very smooth and very painless.
What about the implementation team?
We leveraged NetApp services to come and install the solution in this case. It went very well.
What was our ROI?
FlexPod has saved data center costs, due to the fact that we reduced our footprint for storage in a big way. We went from three complete racks down to a 2U storage array for more than 300 terabytes of storage.
We immediately saw a return on investment due to the fact that replacing our legacy storage arrays with the new AFFs reduced the footprint and maintenance costs. Overall, we saw an almost immediate ROI.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
The short list was a essentially Dell EMC and NetApp. We chose NetApp because of this FlexPod support model.
What other advice do I have?
Look at the end-to-end solution. Examine what the needs are. The solution is so flexible, and there are so many options. If you plan it well, you can plan a very cost effective cost-effective solution throughout the whole gamut of storage arrays available through NetApp.
I would rate it a nine (out of 10) because there is always room for improvement. I can't be perfect.
We don't use tiering to public cloud.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.