What is most valuable?
The strengths of the system is how the Flex scales from a very powerful, next generation BladeCenter all the way up to an IaaS platform. By adding a Flex System Manager (FSM) into the Flex chassis, along with supported storage such as from IBM's Storwize line, the Flex evolves into a PureFlex system. This means it can offer full virtualisation of all attributes and a "single pane of glass" management system encompassing server, storage, network, and hypervisor functionality.
How has it helped my organization?
Many users consider the PureFlex, as it not only addresses common pain points (management, firmware updates, compliance, security) but it also offers a simple solution to bringing a cloud solution in to the business. It does this by leveraging aspects such as automation into a web-based user-friendly front-end interface. Others just build their infrastructure around the Flex chassis, as it represents a very solid, powerful and future-proof BladeCenter solution.
What needs improvement?
The FSM does not quite deliver in the areas it plays too. A fairly sluggish interface that is more complex and less streamlined then it perhaps could be, holds it back and deployment of certain functionality from the switches say, requires more user intervention than feels necessary.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been working with them for several years since their announcement. As usual with new product releases, the initial versions had problems but the more recent iterations of the hardware and software have solved many of them and brought some better functionality too.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
Other than initial releases of the software builds, the system is fairly easy to deploy with the wizards and I've never had an issue with the hardware.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Once deployed the system has always proved itself stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The Flex chassis like all BladeCenter type systems has a limit to the number of nodes it holds before a new chassis and associated networking are required. From an I/O perspective there are no scalability issues due to the architecture of the system.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I've used many different solutions, and each tends to have an area where it best fits. The PureFlex isn't a one solution fits all system but there are many areas where it can deliver what the clients need.
How was the initial setup?
It has a fairly simple wizard based set-up, but it's a little time consuming. It requires that the environment it is to be integrated into to be ready (gateways, DNS, AD etc.) or it will hit issues.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The Flex chassis can be fairly easily deployed by the end user and is supplied with clear and comprehensive documentation, although many do engage third parties. The PureFlex cost includes IBM implementation services to get it up and running on site.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Typical competitors' products which impress me the most include VCE Vblock as it does excel in certain areas, but likewise it can't offer some of the features of the PureFlex like IBM POWER nodes so it depends on what is needed from a "converged system".