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FlexPod OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

FlexPod is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Converged Infrastructure tools. It is most often compared to Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series: FlexPod vs Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series

What is FlexPod?

The FlexPod platform, developed by NetApp and Cisco, is a flexible, converged infrastructure solution that delivers prevalidated storage, networking, and server technologies. It’s designed to increase IT responsiveness to business demands while reducing your overall cost of computing. Think maximum uptime, minimal risk

FlexPod Buyer's Guide

Download the FlexPod Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2021

FlexPod Customers

University of Sao Paulo, WD-40, The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group

FlexPod Video

Archived FlexPod Reviews (more than two years old)

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KS
Network Engineering Manager at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Flexible, scalable solution for building and managing data centers and hosting customer data

Pros and Cons

  • "The ease of set up is probably the most valuable feature for us."
  • "We use technical support from time to time. Most of the time if we really need assistance we end up having to get above the tier one support. We're able to do a lot of the tier one troubleshooting on our own."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for customer data center solutions — as well as internal solutions in our data center — to host customer data.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod is easier for us to maintain and do build-outs with scalability. We're able to install a lot of the build-outs and service profiles more quickly and it takes a lot less time to have all that stuff set up for the customer. It cuts down on the man-hours it takes to get an implementation done.

What is most valuable?

The ease of setup is probably the most valuable feature for us. When we're bringing out a new solution, it's easy to get everything in the rack. When we need to add into it, later on, it's easier to have all that stuff available and then just adding to the installation as we need to in order to build it out. It's easier to bolt on components that are already created than to make them from scratch or retrofit them or replace components. The integration between the pieces is a lot easier on the setup side, too.

What needs improvement?

There are not really any additional features that I could think of that are not available already. As technology is enhanced, that may change.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We don't have any issues with stability as far as the product is concerned. It's solid. Issues are not directly related to the product itself.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can scale the solution really easily. We've been doing that fluidly. We were probably one of the first Cisco customers to come online when the UCS line came out. We have a lot invested in our architecture and we pass that on to clients.

Scaling is easy to do. We can pretty much have any one of our clients do it on demand.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use technical support from time to time. Most of the time if we really need assistance we end up having to get above the tier one support. We're able to do a lot of the tier one troubleshooting on our own. We have a lot of engineers who can handle that. We spend some time trying to get past tier one when we already know the issue is more complicated in order to get to the support we really need.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is generally pretty easy and faster than most other systems.

What about the implementation team?

We do our own installations as we are the ones who install for clients.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have historically been a really big Cisco partner. We started doing more with hosted client opportunities for data. When they came out with that line, it was something that we moved right into as a natural progression. Once we thought it worked and saw how easy it was to scale it out, we decided to go that way and save a little extra money while scaling out the usage of what we already had in place.

What other advice do I have?

I would probably rate the product as a seven out of ten. The amount of time it saved us on the setup, maintaining the system and the fact that we haven't had to do a whole lot of troubleshooting with it makes it valuable. 

As far as people entertaining the solution, they should go look at their equipment, know what their pain points are and then get in touch with somebody at Cisco. Reach out to an account manager or see a demo. I know when we were first looking at it, an account manager came out to us and brought a systems engineer with him. We had the opportunity to see the solution and they went over the potential benefits in great detail. It was easy for us to see the gain that we would be getting by implementing the product. 

People need to do their own due diligence in researching new solutions. Exploring other solutions is important to determine which particular solution is the best fit. Once you get the possibilities down to two or three solution sets that may work for you, compare them rigorously before committing. One will probably stand out as the best be it because of budget, features, capabilities or application.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Taylor Brown
Cloud Infrastructure Engineer at Payments Canada
Real User
The workload for individuals is faster and our employees can accomplish their responsibilities in less time

Pros and Cons

  • "All-flash storage and low latency I/O enhance performance."
  • "The cost may be high compared to other solutions."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use for this product is for virtual desktop infrastructure and for virtual server storage.

How has it helped my organization?

Since going to all Flash, employees are much happier working remotely in our VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).

What is most valuable?

The most valuable asset of the product is the use of all-flash storage, low latency I/O (quicker Input / Output).

What needs improvement?

No really good opportunities for product improvement come to mind. For our organization, it does what we need it to do.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is very stable. I don't think it's failed once since I have worked with it within the organization.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have a pretty stable workload, so we have not had to consider the scalability of the solution.

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

We did an upgrade during my time but that was just moving to a newer version of the same product.

How was the initial setup?

The initial installation was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented through Paramount.

What was our ROI?

Return on investment is not always tangible. The workload for individuals is faster and our employees are happier for being able to accomplish their responsibilities in less time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before this solution, the organization used some Synology products that were more appropriate for small businesses. The organization had many remote sites and it was not centralized. We also considered VMware vSAN as a solution.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale of one to ten, I rate this product as an eight. That is mostly because the cost is comparatively high for what it does.

Storage I/O is pretty important for enhancing user experience and utility.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about FlexPod. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: October 2021.
542,721 professionals have used our research since 2012.
HB
Network Engineer at a legal firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
A resilient solution to host our ESX environment, with only a single call required for support

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is that there is one call for support."
  • "It would be helpful to have more flexibility for adding other components."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our data center. It runs all of our ESX environment with SQL and Exchange servers on it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is that there is one call for support.

It is good to have validated designs, so at least supposedly it will work.

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful to have more flexibility for adding other components. It is always better to have more possibilities.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a resilient solution that keeps running, and we haven’t had any problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had to really increase its capacity, so I don't really know how scalable this solution is.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has helped us out when we needed. When you call for support, at least you don't have a finger pointing session of one vendor product versus the other.

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

We had to upgrade because our previous equipment was hitting the end of its lifespan. We went to an integrated solution.

How was the initial setup?

The setup of this solution is a little bit complex at first. After you understand the major components, it gets easier.

What about the implementation team?

We purchased our system through a reseller, CDW. However, there wasn't any special value added. They created a bill of materials.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have a lease for approximately $10,000 USD per month.

What other advice do I have?

This is a stable solution with good technical support. However, there is always room for improvement.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
CF
Network Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
MSP
Validated designs take the guesswork out of our IaaS

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution can be innovative when it comes to cloud computing storage and networking."
  • "The FlexPod service and support could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for FlexPod is Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). We sell multi-tenancy services to our customers.

How has it helped my organization?

We appreciate having the validated designs because it takes the guesswork out of piecing it together. The solution can be innovative when it comes to cloud computing storage and networking.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of the solution are reliability, scalability, and support. 

Having the validated designs helps because it takes the guesswork out of piecing it together.

It works well in private and hybrid environments. Multi-cloud, I have yet to see.

The solution saves us engineering time, which translates to savings in money and it streamlines our IT admin.

What needs improvement?

The FlexPod service and support could be improved. The integration of the different storage equipment could be improved because NetApp is the biggest piece and it seems to be well covered, but not so much on the Cisco side.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod has been very stable for us. It is resilient. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is one of the key features in this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is reasonably good. It simplifies our support experience.

I don't have as much insight into the NetApp side of it, as compared to the Cisco side.

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

We were looking to build a fully-certified data center to provide our IaaS solution to customers.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't part of the initial setup. However, I have been part of the expansion and it's very simple.

The deployment time has been reduced, although I cannot say by how much.

What about the implementation team?

We are a system integrator, so we use our in-house team.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

At the time we deployed FlexPod, there wasn't a whole lot else available other than Vblock.

It just came down to a strong relationship with the key vendors that make up the product, NetApp and Cisco.

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson that I have learned, working with this solution, is that it's better to go with something that has been vetted, tested, and designed by people with knowledge, as opposed to trying to go on your own. This is why we chose a certified, validated design.

This product has all of the big players behind it. Overall it works, and the reliability is top-shelf. I don't know what's better.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Ahmed Jehanzeb
Infrastructure Engineer at Suntrust Bank
Real User
Flexible and innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution can be innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. FlexPod is very flexible and innovative. We can design it as we like."
  • "I would like to see more cloud-centric modules that are specific to applications and more software-based solutions. That's all that is missing."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case for FlexPod is for our websites, intranet, internet, internet facing sites, compute storage, and processing power. We have a NetApp storage device, we have FlexPod, and we have flash storage which is part of the app. It's mostly for internal storage and compute needs.

How has it helped my organization?

We are more than likely going to be moving to the cloud. We'll probably do some sort of hybrid cloud solution. We're looking at AWS. Cisco has FlexPods that work with AWS. More than likely we'll do something like that at the end of the year. We'll probably integrate with AWS or whatever cloud provider we go with. We have thought about it. They have an excellent platform idea.

FlexPod is perfectly capable of supporting what we have. Our needs are mostly clients that are based off an internet website. All the computer requirements that we have are more than sufficient. For now, this is all the solution we need.

The solution can be innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. FlexPod is very flexible and innovative. We can design it as we like. We can do just a single tenant, multi-tenant, whatever we need. It's very helpful. 

FlexPod is exactly what we're looking for as far as performance is concerned. For our use cases, this is more than ample. It has all the flexibility and the performance capabilities that we're looking for right now. FlexPod helps us meet the needs of diverse workloads.  

We have seen a major improvement in application performance by around 30%, even though we're running in a hypervisor and we don't have a dedicated service for it.

The solution reduced the time we required to deploy an application. It's almost instantaneous. It's not as fast as the cloud, but it's close enough. It's very good. It has been reduced by at least 50%. 

FlexPod reduced our data center costs by around 20%.

For staff productivity, FlexPod helped with some of the manual tasks that we had to monitor within the infrastructure. We don't have to do it now because FlexPod is very reliable. Even replacing basic disks is automated. FlexPod seems to be very quick and reliable. It's been running well.

FlexPod also simplifies our support experience. It's mostly internal in our own company. We know exactly what we're looking for. We know what to monitor. We have alerts set up for that. FlexPod helps.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that it's flexible and best of breed. We can add and subtract as we want. It takes care of all our needs. FlexPod is exactly what we're looking for. 

We don't have any plans for AI right now, but I'm sure when we do, it'll probably be more than helpful.

We have found it to be resilient because of the flexibility and redundancy built into it. 

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more cloud-centric modules that are specific to applications and more software-based solutions. That's all that is missing.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Our impressions are very good. It's the best upgrade hardware. We have had no issues so far. 

We had a couple of outages with FlexPod, but they were mostly software based. They weren't hardware based. So far, so good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, that's exactly what we have with FlexPod. We're trying to expand into the cloud. Anytime we need to add some servers or take some down, it's very scalable. FlexPod is very fast.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a support contract with Cisco. It is very quick. We are on the phone with them immediately. Out of 10, I would give them an eight.

What about the implementation team?

We had a reseller for the setup. I'm fairly new at the company. I wasn't there for the setup. From what I have heard, the experience was very good. They have dedicated account managers that work with us directly. It was a good experience.

What other advice do I have?

We have a single tenant application. The compute engine power and the cloud resources that we need for the application are more than sufficient with FlexPod. We don't have any issues with performance using the application. For now, it's exactly what we are looking for. Performance is one of the reasons that we went with FlexPod. 

From CSA, we have some product requirements. FlexPod has been more than enough for us to secure our sites and pass the audits. It's been very helpful.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this product a 10. There are some good products out there. FlexPod is in the top five for sure.

Go with the best of breed product, it will make your life easier. I would highly recommend FlexPod.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
LM
Architect at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Runs all of our mission-critical applications, and the cost benefits are obvious

Pros and Cons

  • "The Validated Designs are very good because they act as a reference to see whether we have done things properly."
  • "It would be very helpful if the upgrades for Cisco, VMware, and NetApp could be bundled together and performed at the same time."

What is our primary use case?

We use the FlexPod solution for all of our VMware workloads.

How has it helped my organization?

Prior to using this solution, we had a legacy VMware environment and there were a lot of problems. Comparing to that time, we can really see the cost benefits of using FlexPod.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that it integrates with NetApp, as well as the Cisco B200 M4 and M5 Blades. It is a fully integrated system.

The Validated Designs are very good because they act as a reference to see whether we have done things properly.

What needs improvement?

It would be very helpful if the upgrades for Cisco, VMware, and NetApp could be bundled together and performed at the same time. Currently, if I need to upgrade NetApp or VMware then I have to request a service outage. If all three were bundled together then it would be very easy.

Every time Cisco introduces a new product like the M3, M4, or M5 blades, I have to build a new cluster because the CPU chipset is different. It cannot be accommodated within the existing cluster, necessitating having to build a new one, which causes me to invest more money.

For how long have I used the solution?

Almost four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is very good.

The two partners, Cisco and NetApp, have both been in the market for a long time. Stability-wise we don't have any issues, but if we do then we will call technical support.

It is very resilient. The resiliency is obvious.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are no issues in terms of scalability with this solution. If I want to grow the compute resources or Azure separately then I can do it. Or, if I want to add a fabric internet switch then I will just buy it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very good. I would rate it ten out of ten.

How was the initial setup?

The setup of FlexPod is straightforward because all of the components are there.

What about the implementation team?

We use a qualified reseller for all our Cisco procurements.

What was our ROI?

I can say that we are getting a good return on investment at this point.

We have saved approximately twenty to thirty percent by using this solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We pay approximately $1,400 USD in total for between five-thousand and ten-thousand ports. 

Apart from FlexPod fees, I have the VMware annual license cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated solutions from HP, Cisco, and IBM before choosing this solution.

What other advice do I have?

This solution runs all of our mission-critical applications, and the cost benefits to using this solution are very good. It integrates well with other products, and in fact, the biggest lesson that I have learned from this solution is that integration is a good thing. Cisco and NetApp have done a good job.

I have been hearing that NetApp will be taken over by Cisco. If this happens, and NetApp is integrated with all of the Cisco solutions, then it would be very good. Currently one of the weak points with Cisco is that they are not a storage company. It was similar in the case of Dell, who took over EMC.

Overall, this is definitely a good product.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SS
Network Engineer at Department of Homeland Security
Real User
Increased staff productivity and has simplified our support experience

Pros and Cons

  • "FlexPod impacted us by making things easier to deploy. The solution is a private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environment. That's very important to us. We're doing a lot of hybrid cloud."
  • "We haven't seen ROI yet."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for FlexPod is providing cloud services.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod impacted us by making things easier to deploy. The solution is a private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environment. That's very important to us. We're doing a lot of hybrid cloud. 

The solution's infrastructure enables us to run mission-critical workloads. I do work for the Department of Homeland Security. We have a lot of critical applications. 

The validated designs and overall versatility in terms of integrating our technology and capabilities are pretty good.

The solution brings us a scale of broad application support that helps us meet the needs of diverse workloads.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the automation.

FlexPod's ability to manage from edge to core to cloud for supporting modern data and compute requirements is very good.

We have found the solution to be innovative when it comes to computing scores and networking because of the ease of deployment.

It has increased staff productivity and has simplified our support experience. It streamlines our IT admin. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable and resilient. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's technical support is knowledgeable.

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

We came in and the solution had already been installed.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of FlexPod was straightforward.

What was our ROI?

We haven't seen ROI yet. 

What other advice do I have?

We have found the solution to be resilient in the way that everything is regarded. The solution reduces the time required to deploy a new application. 

There's a lot of different ways to deploy. Look into FlexPod because it makes things easier, especially for operations, i.e. to fix things and get things back up and running.

On a scale from one to ten, I would rate this product a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AA
Network Administrator at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We have seen a huge improvement in application performance and it enables us to run mission-control workloads

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our on-premise production environment.

It does optimize operations. There is a huge improvement, between fifteen and twenty percent, in application performance.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution allows us to have a highly diverse environment. It is scalable and has been helpful with our DB deployment and DB management.

The solution infrastructure enables us to run mission-control workloads.

This gives us a good opportunity because it allows us to connect different Cisco devices, giving us a highly diverse environment. It is diverse and allows connections between two different vendor’s systems.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are the scalability, the speed of deployment, and physical server management.

What needs improvement?

Cisco should work closely with other vendors to ensure that their specialized hardware can be integrated.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is really stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate technical support a nine out of ten.

It does simplify our support experience. We used to have a SAN environment that was managed by a dedicated team. Now, management is handled by separate teams.

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

FlexPod was recommended by our architect and vendor, WWT.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of FlexPod is straightforward. This solution reduces our application deployment time by approximately five percent.

What about the implementation team?

We had assistance with our deployment from WWT, and our experience was good.

What was our ROI?

The solution has not reduced our data center costs. From the finance perspective, it doesn't save us money. But performance-wise, we benefit.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Our licensing fees are on a yearly basis.

What other advice do I have?

I highly recommend this solution.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Mohit Mittal
AGM at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Stable private cloud solution that has reduced our deployment time

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution has granular scalability."
  • "I would be interested to see more integration with other applications."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for my private cloud. We are providing a service.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod has helped us reduce our time of deployment because we are really only missing integration with different applications.

It has also allowed us to streamline our IT administration.

What is most valuable?

The integration is something else.

The core cloud is a good feature. If we had a login that extended from the private cloud to the public cloud that would be the best, but it's up there.

The solution has granular scalability.

What needs improvement?

I would be interested to see more integration with other applications.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using FlexPod for four or five months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very resilient. So far, it has been stable. Keep in mind we are still deploying it, so the real use case has yet to be seen.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability looks okay because it’s based on the capacity of the device, so I wouldn’t normally assume any scalability issue.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support has been okay.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward, but the migration has taken some time.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the integration. 

What was our ROI?

FlexPod saves us money. There is definitely a return on our investment.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate FlexPod as seven or eight out of ten. It's too early to say anything, but for now, my only concern is the limited integration with applications.

The biggest lesson I learned was that from the automation point of view, this should be saving us time. When you’re doing it for the first time it’s not going to be very easy.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TL
Network Engineer at DHS USCIS
Real User
Fast and flexible, but the user interface needs to be more intuitive

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution has given us a great deal of on-site storage that we didn't have before."
  • "The graphical interface could be made easier to use and more intuitive."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for our on-premise file solution. Its infrastructure enables us to run demanding or mission-critical workloads.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has given us a great deal of on-site storage that we didn't have before.

The solution’s granular scalability or broad application support helps us meet the needs of diverse workloads.

We have seen an improvement in application performance. Although I don't know what the baseline was so I cannot tell how much it has improved.

It has enabled us to reduce data center costs and to save money.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are that it's flexible and it's fast. The validates designs have been generally quite good and it is innovative. 

It has streamlined our IT admin.

What needs improvement?

The graphical interface could be made easier to use and more intuitive.

The solution’s ability to manage from edge to core, to cloud, to supporting modern data and compute requirements isn't very good. It manages itself, and it has components to help orchestrate itself across the entire network, which is good. However, not necessarily to the edge.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Once this solution is up and running and configured, it is very stable and resilient. s

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is quite scalable. You add more and they work better together.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is improving.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is fairly complex. We have a complex environment.

This solution has reduced deployment time. 

What about the implementation team?

Initially, we had somebody to provide us assistance with this solution. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

This solution was implemented before I joined the company.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody considering this product is to give it a close look because it's a great solution.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MB
Practice Lead at Bedroc
Real User
A good solution for integrating compute, networking and storage in data centers with easy deployment

Pros and Cons

  • "The product is easy to deploy and use."
  • "It could be more innovative."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is to integrate the compute, networking and storage in our data center.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod simplifies our deployments and the automation. It enables us to handle mission-critical workloads and applications.

What is most valuable?

The best feature of the product is not exactly a feature. It is the ease of deployment and use.

What needs improvement?

As a solution, it isn't really very innovative. It could have better support for portals.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. Any outage can be brought back up quickly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is easily scaled. It is possible to integrate new capabilities and technologies which we have successfully done with no issues. It's a valid, viable model.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer service is above average.

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

The product was adopted as a solution before I came to the company. 

How was the initial setup?

The installation was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant for the implementation. That was Bedrock and they are okay at what they do.

What was our ROI?

The reduction in data center costs is the obvious return on investment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The solution has reduced data center operating costs by about five percent.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Other options were considered. That included IBM and HP solutions.

What other advice do I have?

The product is an eight out of ten. It's stable and we've had no issues. It is definitely worth considering as a solution depending on your particular needs.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TT
User at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
MSP
The agility reduces the number of hours that it takes to construct a physical or virtual data center

Pros and Cons

  • "It reduces the time required to dynamically provide applications to our end users and developers."
  • "It takes a very sophisticated group of people to run and maintain NetApp and Cisco products."

What is our primary use case?

The purpose of FlexPod is for a converged infrastructure that provides compute or networking storage and helps launch applications more easily and dynamically.

How has it helped my organization?

At the end of the day, AI is not AI without the application that we write into it. With collaboration between Microsoft — utilizing it to build in a manner that is compatible to the FlexPod architecture — we're able to provide specific intelligence that supports our objectives — whatever it is at a given time. Whether it's data aggregation, learning, pouring out the analytics, the intelligence helps specific applications respond to requirements within a business structure. That's what FlexPod enables us to do. That agility reduces the number of hours that it takes to construct a data center, whether it is physical or virtual, by enabling applications to support AI objectives. It just needs to be built correctly.

We have experienced about 28 to 30% improvement in application performance and in our industry that's actually a very significant improvement.

The purpose of using FlexPod, for us, is to simplify and streamline application deployment. 
Compared to utilizing a rack and stack model and using a virtualization technology like VMware, the time savings is about 40% in getting the application into production.

What is most valuable?

Certification from both manufacturers states that this is a tried and true converged product. That's what we are most happy about. One of the biggest things that my engineers have the pains with is to vet out core networking, vet out stretch routing, vet out applications and then vet out the compute, the front end and the stores, then layer it. After all that deal with the application and quality assure it before we put into production. FlexPod cut out all that complexity and helped get us to the point where it in a data center, launch our application, build the application, test it, QA, and then put in production. So it does reduce the time with regards to how we dynamically provision and provide applications to our end users and developers. 

What needs improvement?

If we look at data center solutions, any of those solutions are only as good as the people that put it together. If there's a way for us to take a hyperconverged technology or converged technology — like FlexPod — and use it with artificial intelligence, that allows the engineer who is building it to infuse the deployment with intelligence. Turning it on, the necessary steps — done correctly — eliminate human error. If something is in error or not within compliance to confines of what that particular architecture should be like, intelligence lets that engineer know that an object is out of policy. For example, if you implement SAP and Oracle, the Oracle database goes through this way; if you partition it out to this number of lines or a particular number of virtual machines, the recommendation may be different to achieve the maximum efficiency.

If the solution does that, it helps enable and accelerate deployment. Every organization out there has its own challenges. Whether you're an automobile manufacturer, or a cloud solution provider, or a managed service provider, or even application software provider working for social networking where the only thing they need to do is support people, all that is important is when they login to that particular application. They need to have that effort fit the user experience. The collaboration between Cisco and NetApp can learn to provide that.

Millennials today are very intelligent people when it comes to social media, but they're not hands-on with applications or as CLI (command-line interface) as some of the older engineers. The millennial comes in and they look at something and they get it. Okay, as long as that's valid, it is okay. The smarter thing is that something is put into FlexPod to be sure potential errors are covered. 

The client will tell you what they want to do. Well, whatever that is — they can be selling hamburgers, make pizzas, or fly an airplane. If we make a machine dynamic, it allows professionals to go to market and set their strategy a lot better.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As far as stability, the product is a tank. It doesn't break. It's very reliable. It is also resilient in terms of workloads, but it has to involve the necessary security staff to oversee it and the proper security application and layers to support it. But structurally and architecturally, the solution itself, from a workload or a workforce perspective, is very resilient.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It does have its limitation if the architecture is weak and constructed incorrectly. If you do it right, it scales infinitely.

When you build it, and you build it to scale, you'll be able to serve out any application dynamically to end users. It could be an organization of 3,000, it could be an organization of 50,000. As long as you build your FlexPod architecture correctly within your data center, whether it's a co-location or a physical data center, it's proven itself to be extremely scalable.

It becomes an Achilles tendon when an organization leveraging FlexPod does not build enough scalable resources. That's when layering applications does cause issues. I've seen that both from a security perspective, as well as an application performance perspective.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use technical support all the time. The collaboration between Cisco and NetApp is actually very good. We use both platforms. Even though we work with Cisco directly to utilize HyperFlex architecture, which competes with FlexPod, the customer service isn't competitive and remains collaborative. There is no finger-pointing, which is very surprising. More often than not, we're able to satisfy an anomaly or technical issue easily. The technical support is very, very good.

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

We hated taking racks down or putting them up just to deploy a simple solution. If we need an application and had to put another rack up, it means using a lot of resources. Instead, we could launch a virtual machine. The network, the compute and the storage is in a single solution.

If you have to spend more time during a day fixing computers, servers and the network than you do focusing on what you make money from, you don't need to be in the business you are in. That's why they provide hyperconverged technologies that are data-center-centric out of the box. You buy it, you bracket, turn it on, load an application onto it, and then you build it. 

It all started many years ago when IBM created the most intelligent compute system in the world. Everybody logged into a VT100 terminal. They didn't care about what was going on in the machine. They logged in and it worked. Then some guy decided to break it apart and create a disparate network. When they figured out they realized it was too sophisticated. As the company grew they needed a server for every single application. That's why you see the evolution of VMware and Citrix and the evolution of converge.

The future of things moved away from just hardware. The future of things now is going to be like hyperconverged but in a very virtual form. That's the reason why Cisco is buying organizations like BroadSoft. They want to get into organizations that provide virtual services.

How was the initial setup?

The product is actually easy to set up. It's self-learning. It's methodical. At the same time, you have to go through all the minutia of the networking layer, the storage layer, the compute layer to focus on the foundation. Then prepare it for application download and then application build on either databases or the application itself based on the OS that it resides on. The model is quite simple.

What about the implementation team?

We do the implementations.

What was our ROI?

People go to the cloud today and think that it's going to save them money. Actually, if you're going to go to the cloud, you're going to spend more money. The difference between going to a cloud infrastructure and having your own private cloud like say FlexPod, the cost structure is the same. You're going to need humans to continue to manage, maintain and run it. You're going to continue to do a refresh on it because technology will get old. Cisco and NetApp will never sit on their laurels. They won't just create FlexPod and have only one model. Over time, switches, routers, storage, interfaces and things like that will change.

That's why I think it's important that we don't focus too much on ROI. ROI is not the amount of money you spend on FlexPod or cloud that equates to revenue. ROI is whether you have a good product that allows your company to leverage technology. FlexPod enhances the way you go to market. That is an ROI. 

If a CFO wants to do a 10-year map to see how long is it going to make up the investment, you don't need to buy FlexPod. You need to talk to how you to go to the market efficiently. You needed to ask yourself whether your company will be viable and competitive to stay in the market landscape with respect to what you sell. 

You have to understand why you're spending that money. If not then this investment will not make sense.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered VMware, Citrix, going full cloud, sharing with a cloud, handing it off to a managed service provider, building it ourselves, rack and stack — pretty much everything was on the table. FlexPod is a good product. I think they just need to continue to keep up the pace with organization like Nutanix and those types of organizations to be able to compete.

You can't get in trouble going with Cisco and NetApp. If you get stuck or have an issue, support is there. The inner partnership, inner engineering, and cross-pollination is there. I'm still leery of some of the up-and-coming hyperconverged organizations out there trying to compete. They may be good, dynamic, fast, growing, everybody's getting on on it, but they're not backed by two large publicly-traded organizations that have a legacy foundation that's been tried and proven for what they do and do best. 

What other advice do I have?

I would probably give this solution a seven-and-a-half or an eight out of ten. It isn't higher because I know that if I were to look at a very dynamic data-center solution, there are organizations who can do it a lot more agile, more quickly, or in a more user-friendly way. It takes a very sophisticated group of people to run and maintain NetApp and Cisco. It's not just a box you put in a server. You scale it out and you log onto a graphical user interface and you manage it. When it is running, it's a very, very powerful foundation that no other hyperconverged solution out there can compete with. You cannot break it. And like I said, as long as you have the right people who know the foundations, FlexPod is a very powerful data center foundation.

I think one of the greatest things that we like about NetApp is the fabric OS and leverage that proprietary app to be able to make it self-aware of legacy storage, legacy compute, current compute and future compute.

One of the cumbersome parts that we discovered is that there are claims that say something can be done, but it takes a lot of testing and trial and error and working with our ISP to ensure that these multi-cloud, multi tendencies and applications living in it all talk to each other. In other words, it's not going to run by itself. It will continue to take a group of highly sophisticated engineers and application folks to be able to make things work.

FlexPod was built in collaboration with Cisco when they didn't have their own hyperconverged technology and when NetApp didn't have their own networking technology. The idea behind FlexPod was to build that converged and hyperconverged foundation to support it. The direction Cisco is moving in today leaves the partnership intact on that app for now, but with some of their hyperconverged solutions out there it may not stay that way. Competing HyperFlex technologies are extremely agile today, and if they continue to develop, possible partnerships with the likes of Oracle or Linux or Microsoft may be something to be reckoned with.

There are no walls to technology. As long as you code out a certified solution to dynamically support your market strategy, that's all you needed. That's what I really learned from blind spots, and that's the reason why we moved in the direction that we did.

Don't look at the price. It is more important to understand where your company is competitively in the market. If you're going FlexPod, it's going to be a journey and that FlexPod isn't going to make you money. But it's going to help you really find your company, or the next level, or the future of where you're going to be in terms of going into a market. You should not buy FlexPod because you want to be cool like other companies. It won't save you money. It is more important that it enables your organization to be more visionary and more technically dynamic.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JQ
Network Engineer at a government with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Offers high availability and scalability and has increased back-end productivity

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for FlexPod is for better storage.

How has it helped my organization?

The FlexPod solution increased back-end productivity and streamlined our IT admin.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of FlexPod are high availability and scalability.

What needs improvement?

In the digital future, I would like to see included more code compatibility. The storage should be more mobile. We should be able to move it from place to place.

FlexPod needs more support on ML/AI networks.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're still working on scalability. We have to keep low price versions of the high-end equipment. I would like to see a little more data compression on the solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The FlexPod technical support has been fairly good. I cannot complain.

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

We knew that we needed to invest by talking with consultants.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of FlexPod was complex in the way that we had to manage the data.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use a consultant. We do it all by ourselves.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate this product an 8. Consolidation is possible. 

FlexPod doesn't compare to other products. Do many tryouts first. Try to just mimic different environments to get a different view of the platform.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
RajeshSrinivasan
Director at HCL Technologies
Real User
Reduced the complexity of our network monitoring but the setup is complex

Pros and Cons

  • "FlexPod has affected the workload of our network admin team awesomely. We have fewer employees. It's good."
  • "The initial setup for FlexPod is complex."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is for educational content.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has improved our organization in the way that we now require fewer employees. It has reduced the complexity of our network monitoring. 

It has reduced the workload on our network admins and our network availability has been reduced. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are instant scalability and reliability. The solution has good granularity in terms of network visibility.

What needs improvement?

The main area that this solution has room for improvement is in Cisco support.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is very good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good.

How are customer service and technical support?

FlexPod's technical support is bad, as with everything regarding Cisco support.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for FlexPod is complex.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultancy company for the implementation. 

What other advice do I have?

The solution forces us to ACI to make quotas and we will do that.

FlexPod supports both traditional and SCN reduced costs.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this product a seven. It's not perfect.

I believe that FlexPod is the best solution. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SK
Network Engineer at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
An all-in-one solution that helps our teams work better together

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is that it is all-in-one, and it is easy to get support on it."
  • "There are times where we have had issues with technical support."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for our servers. We are getting ready to move to the cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

We have a network team and assistance team in our organization, and this solution has helped them to combine and work together a lot better.

The solution's granular scalability and broad application support help us to meet the needs of diverse workloads.

The performance has improved with a couple of applications that we have. I’m not sure of the percentage, but I would say about twenty percent. It also optimizes operations.

It has increased staff productivity because we can work on other stuff. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that it is all-in-one, and it is easy to get support on it.

What needs improvement?

There are times where we have had issues with technical support.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of stability, it is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is pretty good. I would rate it seven out of ten.

Sometimes we still have issues with support. We have had instances where we’ve called in and not gotten the right people on the phone.

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

We began to look for a new solution when the stuff we had was at end-of-life.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward. You simply follow the documentation.

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation in-house.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Cisco and HP when we were researching this solution.

What other advice do I have?

This is a very stable product and we have had really good luck with it, so I would recommend it to a colleague at another company.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AS
Sr Network Solution Engineer at InterVision Systems Technologies
Real User
Provides HA, fault tolerance, and DR to our customers while saving on data center costs

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features are the Fabric Interconnect Manager and the UCS Manager."
  • "There are too many drivers and software combined all together, and we need to have compatibility between all of them."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our data center. We use a hybrid environment. It connects our on-premise system with the cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

We are a partner with Cisco, and we assist our customers based on their business requirements. 

We have definitely seen an improvement in application performance. They have high availability, and this is what we are looking for. I would say that it is a ninety percent improvement.

Staff productivity has increased because they have more time. The solution provides centralized management, and less time is required for troubleshooting and research. The documentation is in the GUI, embedded within the software. I would say that there is a thirty percent improvement.

Datacenter costs are reduced by means of less power, cooling, and space. I would say it is a fifty percent reduction.

This solution helps our IT administrator to troubleshoot and understand problems.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the Fabric Interconnect Manager and the UCS Manager. It connects the virtualization, the network, and the storage all in one cage.

Our data center costs have been reduced by means of less power, cooling, and space.

It is very helpful for our customers to have everything centralized. Most of our customers are moving to the cloud, and they need help to migrate their data. The majority of cases that I see are hybrid cloud and on-premise solutions.

What needs improvement?

There are too many drivers and software combined all together, and we need to have compatibility between all of them.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

At this beginning, the FlexPod solution had too many bugs. Today, however, it is more resilient. It has high availability, fault tolerance, and disaster recovery.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is very scalable. You can increase the number of parts horizontally without affecting the production environment.

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco's support is very good, all the time. I love them. You have one number to call, and this call will cover the compute, storage, and networking.

How was the initial setup?

This solution is easy to deploy. This solution reduces application deployment time because we have integrated automation with it. The simple integration makes it easy. We have an eighty percent reduction in time.

What other advice do I have?

Using this product makes our life easy.

I have learned a lot from this solution. When you touch a new technology, there is another new technology coming in.

This resiliency of this solution helps. There is high availability, fault tolerance, disaster recovery, and it is easy to deploy.

One of the solutions that we implemented was the joining of two data centers together. We used EVPN-VXLAN, and this was a great solution for them.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
BG
Sr Platform Manager at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Makes it easy to grow our data center, but the management tools need to keep improving

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution has helped to make more things consistent within our organization."
  • "On the NetApp side, there are definitely things to improve in terms of software updates."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is VMware hosting. We use it primarily in the core data center, and that’s where it has worked best for us.

Our applications for payroll, HR, and anything that is mission-critical runs on some form of Flex device. We run a lot of different workloads and a lot of different VMs on this platform.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has helped to make more things consistent within our organization.

In terms of staff productivity, we manage more and more with less and less people.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that it works and is compatible with all of the existing platforms that we use.

The validated designs are good in that they provide a kind of known quantity.

I’m not sure that it’s overly innovative. It’s a little more traditional than the hyper converge-type option and things like that, but it works.

What needs improvement?

On the NetApp side, there are definitely things to improve in terms of software updates.

There are a lot of complex, moving parts, and as each revision comes along they get easier to manage it all, but there are a lot of moving parts. Things are not as simple as they market them. Until you learn how to use them all, it is a bit of a challenge. The more than they can consolidate and drive that administration down, the easier it will come. That is the biggest thing for me.

I would like to see more SaaS-based management tools. I think that this is where they are headed with Active IQ and Intersight. A lot of the traditional tools have been on-premise hosted, and that's another thing for us to manage. Essentially, to manage things that we are already managing. So, I'd rather see the SaaS-based tools become the standard.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is very good. This is a resilient solution. It’s very redundant in terms of capability between the plain infrastructure and the storage. We really haven’t had any issues with that.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very good. It allows us to grow most computing and storage resources independently. It allows us to add what's needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had really good technical support across the board. This solution has simplified our support experience. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was straightforward. Granted, the reseller did most of the work.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller to assist with our implementation. They made it easy.

What was our ROI?

I don’t know that it has reduced costs, but it hasn’t incurred any higher costs. It’s probably reduced costs in the fact that as things improve they get smaller.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody implementing this solution is to be prepared to learn about the solution. The converge solutions promise a lot of easier management, but there's still a lot of things that they need to know about. There are compromises, so they need to make sure they understand completely what they are getting into.

There are definitely some areas where, as a whole, this solution could be better, but it's pretty good.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Francis Shin
Solutions Architect at SHI International Corp.
MSP
A resilient solution with a lot of flexibility that is easy to support

Pros and Cons

  • "It's a kind of one-stop shop as far as support goes."
  • "The biggest thing that I would like to see is more cost-effective FlexPod solutions."

What is our primary use case?

This solution is used mostly for isolated pods for SAP, for instance, or for EPIC.

Private, hybrid and multi-cloud environments are heavily in use by various customers. I would say that hybrid is probably the most common today.

We have integrated with cloud services such as NetApp’s ONTAP, AWS, and Azure.

How has it helped my organization?

Its ability to manage from edge, to core, to cloud, to supporting modern data and compute requirements has been scoped heavily before we actually spec out the FlexPods, but as far as all the interoperability and the core site, that's all been validated by the OEMs. It's kind of a guarantee. These are all validated technology standards. 

From the perspective of the business picking the right solution, it's all being guaranteed to work and it's supposedly scalable. Those are two of the reasons why it's probably been working for a lot of organizations.

They're always validating new designs on FlexPod to adapt to current versions of software and WMware, for instance. They're all good, validated designs.

What is most valuable?

Overall it is innovative when it comes to compute, storage and networking. There is a lot of flexibility and the hardware specs are based on what application or applications you're trying to run. There's flexibility in the sense that you're tailoring the stack toward whatever application you're trying to run.

What needs improvement?

The biggest thing that I would like to see is more cost-effective FlexPod solutions. I would also like to see more available configurations of FlexPods.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very, very stable. 

Any single point of failure has been removed from the FlexPods, so they all have multiple redundancies built-in.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's supposedly scalable. The FlexPod examples that I've seen in production are usually built and run from that configuration. I don't see people changing them that much.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is very good.

One of the benefits for vendors, being in a FlexPod, is that you don’t have to call support for each of the OEMs to help figure out what the problem is. It’s kind of a one-stop-shop as far as support goes.

How was the initial setup?

There are, basically, validated guidelines on how to deploy all of the FlexPods, so they have all been pretty straightforward.

This solution does reduce deployment time, although I don’t know the exact percentage in terms of time savings. I can say that as far as “go to market”, it’s generally faster

What about the implementation team?

I've seen all three examples; resellers, consultants, and integrators.

What was our ROI?

Theoretically, we have seen ROI, but I don't know what the number is.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

FlexPod is multi-vendor, and it is mostly driven by customer demand.

What other advice do I have?

This is a solution that I see mostly for large enterprises, on the side of cost. Smaller and medium-sized enterprises are usually not interested. Cost is the primary factor behind why I would not give this product a perfect rating.

For anybody who is implementing this solution for a customer, my advice is to get what the requirements are in writing. That way, you have yourself covered once you actually buy the product. That's the requirements they gave you and it hasn't expanded beyond that.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Justin Wasden
Director of Datacenter with 51-200 employees
Real User
Saves us time in setup and maintenance, but we need an option to skip Tier-I technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "It is definitely easier for us to maintain and do build-outs, so it takes a lot less time to set things up for the customer."
  • "As we do much of the Tier-I support ourselves, and thus don't normally need it, there is time wasted in moving up to the next level."

What is our primary use case?

We provide this solution to customers for their data centers, and we also use it internally, for our data center, to host customer data.

This solution is right there in terms of leading-edge digital equipment.

How has it helped my organization?

It is definitely easier for us to maintain and do build-outs, so it takes a lot less time to set things up for the customer.

We have seen approximately a twenty-five percent increase in application performance.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ease of setup. When we're bringing out the new solution, it's easy to get everything in the rack. When we need to add to it, later on, it's easier to have all of that stuff there and add as we need it. It's easier to bolt-on, and the integration between the pieces is a lot easier on the setup side, too.

The management is easy. Some of the stuff we have is an older generation that can’t do connectivity into the inner site. But, for everything that we can put in there, we can see all of the customers from that one pane of glass. It makes it simple.

It enables us to run mission-critical workloads. We are running one hundred to one hundred and fifty SQL and high-demand database servers.

I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the validated designs because that is what I go by, whenever we’re building out systems for the customers. It seems like they stay pretty up to date on the newly released products.

What needs improvement?

As we do much of the Tier-I support ourselves, and thus don't normally need it, there is time wasted in moving up to the next level.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a solid solution, and I don't have any issues with stability.

This is a resilient solution. We have a lot of clusters set up, and we haven’t had to worry about server failures because when we do have a server fail, the other ones pick up the workload pretty seamlessly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is easy, and we can pretty much have anybody do it.

We can scale that really easily, and we’ve been doing that. We were probably one of the first Cisco customers that came on when the UCS line came out, so we have a lot invested in the architecture.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support from time to time.

Most of the time, we end up having to get a tier above. We're able to do a lot of the Tier-I troubleshooting on our own. We have a lot of engineers that can handle that, so we do spend some time trying to get past Tier-I in order to get the support we really need.

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

We were already a big Cisco partner when they came out with this line, and it was something that we just moved right into. Once we saw that it worked, and saw how easy it was to scale it out, we just decided to go that way to save a little extra money.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward and very easy.

There is a thirty-five to forty percent reduction in the time required for deployment.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody considering this solution is to get in touch with an account manager at Cisco, then visit and see a demo. I know that when we were first looking at it, an account manager came out and brought a senior engineer with him. They saw the solution and went over it in great detail. It was easy for us to see the gain that we were getting from the product.

I think that people still need to do their own due diligence and look at other solutions. Once you get those two or three solution sets and compare them, I think you'll see that this one is probably the best one out there. This solution is right there with leading-edge digital equipment.

Overall, this is a good solution. It has saved us time on the setup, as well as maintaining the system, and we haven't had to do a whole lot of troubleshooting with it.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DM
Infrastructure Engineer at TechnipFMC
Real User
A high-performance solution that runs all of our workloads, including mission-critical apps

Pros and Cons

  • "The biggest lesson that I have learned from this solution is the ease of actually setting it up and learning it."
  • "The procedure for contacting technical support could be simplified."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for the VMware virtualization of all of our servers. We use the Cisco UCS for the blade servers.

How has it helped my organization?

From a server storage side, we were previously using the HP BladeSystem c7000 chassis for our blade servers. It was much harder to update the firmware when compared to the Cisco UCS.

What is most valuable?

From a UCS side, it is very simple to go from an ESXi host that is on an M4 blade and switch it out to an M5 blade by changing the service profiles on the blades. It is very easy and quick. 

What needs improvement?

The procedure for contacting technical support could be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

Between three and four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

UCS has been around for, I'm assuming, about ten years, and it has only gotten better with time. I like it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very easy. You just scale up or scale down, whenever you want.

How are customer service and technical support?

When dealing with technical support, which was not often, it was tied to our account. That was difficult because I had to go through a partner to find out what our accounts were before I could get support. I wish that part was a little easier.

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

Our previous solution was an HP c7000 BladeSystem with 1-gigabit passthrough modules, and we were going to a 10-gigabit solution. We wanted something that was easier, better, and would support 10-gigabit. We actually ended up going to a 40-gigabit solution.

The HP solution, HP Virtual Connect Flex-10, only supported 10-gigabit modules.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty much straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We have deployed two different systems. The first one was by CDW, which went perfectly well. The second one was by Precidia, which also went perfectly well. Both of these resellers knew what they were doing and everything went smoothly.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only looked at Cisco at the time.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is considering this solution depends on what they're going with. If it is the converged infrastructure then the UCS is probably the way to go. If instead, they are going with the hyperconverged infrastructure, then I would suggest going with the HyperFlex solution.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from this solution is the ease of actually setting it up and learning it.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
John Capobianco
Senior IT Planner Integrator at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Offers developers the compute and storage they need

Pros and Cons

  • "The agility is probably the most valuable feature for us. It's very easy to send out resources."
  • "I'd like to see some more Ansible integration for automation purposes. We automate everything else with Ansible, so it would be great if we could automate our FlexPod with Ansible as well."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for our development workloads.

The private hybrid multi-cloud environment works for us. We're using it as a private cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

There's a lot less overhead management. It's a lot easier for developers, in particular, to get the compute and storage they need. They don't have to go through a bunch of change requests. They just do it on demand.

The solution's infrastructure enables us to run demanding, mission-critical workloads. Our entire development organization runs on FlexPod. Their full development environment is on it. So, application development is pretty mission critical to us.

I like FlexPod's granular scalability and broad application support. Our workload isn't that diverse, but I could see other use cases for it.

Flexpod helped us reduce the time required to deploy new applications by about 60%. It's a very dramatic change.

It has also reduced data centered costs. It's hard to quantify, but there's a lot less bare metal that we need. It's all in FlexPod, so maybe a 40% saving. That's a guess, but it's significant.

The solution has also increased static productivity, mainly in that the developers are able to self-serve. They're less dependent on infrastructure resources to stage an environment for them to then start developing on. They can stage their own environments now.

Support is probably the same. It's one area that we didn't see a lot of improvement in and it's actually supporting FlexPod. It's new technology to a lot of our staff, so they're a little uneasy when they're in there messing with UCS's. It's not something a lot of them do all the time. When we do have to, we kind of fumble around the UCS a little bit to figure our way around.

FlexPod does help streamline our IT admin.

What is most valuable?

Agility is probably the most valuable feature for us. It's very easy to send out resources.

I would assess it as very easy to manage from edge to core cloud. It's a central point of management. We've automated the majority of it and service delivery is fine.

I find FlexPod to be innovative in how automated it is and how it provides a unified ecosystem. I don't have to worry about compatibility or things not working well with each other. It all just works. That's the easiest thing. It's kind of a turnkey solution: we just start spinning up the resources as needed.

What needs improvement?

I'd like to see some more Ansible integration for automation purposes. We automate everything else with Ansible, so it would be great if we could automate our FlexPod with Ansible as well.

We could probably see a little bit more training as well.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very resilient. We haven't lost our FlexPod once, it's been up to, even power outages and things that happened at the data center. It's remained very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think it can scale highly.

How are customer service and technical support?

We really like the technical support. We were able to get up and running in day one of the FlexPod. Like I said, supporting it is a little more challenging only because of the familiarity with the GUIs. A lot of people aren't in there very often though, and when we have to troubleshoot it's a little challenging for us.

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

We used VMware Private Cloud primarily, but we wanted to get into a more tangible private cloud experience as opposed to building our own with individual components that didn't fit together very well. We like that this is designed for network compute storage all in one rack. That's mainly what drilled us to invest in the FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We followed the validated design and we had external partners come in and help us build it, and then we were up and running. I wouldn't say it was complex.

What was our ROI?

We've seen return on investment for sure. The solution saves us money overall.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only evaluated Cisco. I don't believe that we even looked at Dell or HCI. It's pure Cisco for us.

What other advice do I have?

Know what you're getting into upfront, and make sure to train your staff appropriately before diving in and setting something up and then backfilling on your training. Go in with your eyes open and really understand the solution before you start turning the keys over to users and access.

The CBD was very easy to follow. The validated design we followed to the letter, and we haven't had any problems with further integration. It's all gone well.

I would give this solution an eight or nine out of ten: a very high score. It's been very stable. We've been running our dev environment off of it for three years now without any real hiccups or outages. The developers are certainly much more empowered and there's a lot less overhead on the networking people. It just works.

The biggest lesson for me is probably that there is value in some of the larger marketing items. Not just marketing bullet points, but there are actual truth and experience that can back up what the marketing slides have sold us. It delivered to our expectations, I would say.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JH
System Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Very stable and has increased delivery and integration speeds

Pros and Cons

  • "FlexPod is easy to setup, maintain and has great stability."
  • "One touch upgrades would be nice."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod primarily for automation and growing capacity.

How has it helped my organization?

Delivery speed and integration speeds have increased. The solution has enabled us to run mission-critical workloads. Our SQL cluster is on there, which is high IOPS.

All-in-one solution is great for when you don't have a lot of staff, with multiple disciplines. It has increased productivity because we only have a staff of four people, so we are able to focus on other items like innovation. It also has simplified our support experience.

FlexPod has also improved applications for us. It handles IOS better.

What is most valuable?

It is easy to set up, maintain and has great stability.

What needs improvement?

One touch upgrades would be nice.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable and resilient. You just stand it up, and you don't ever have issues with it, so it's been the best storage array in platform we've seen. We've never had a problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've been told from our sales team that it's going to scale really well, but we've never actually tested this. We only have one.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have a very high opinion of the technical support team.

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

We've always been roll your own, setting up the UCS, and the external storage arrays, and then plugging them in and zoning it in, so the fact that it's an all-in-one solution is great.

We use Infinidat and EMC. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

It would be nice to have had this years ago when we first started out, instead of a hodgepodge of different storage and compute technologies within our data center. It'd be nice to just have the one and scale it out.

I like the validated designs because they're fully baked, but they do take a while when there are upgrades that need to happen, for all the vendors to come together and certify their solutions in a matrix.

I would rate FlexPod as a ten out of ten. It's innovative, easy, and reliable.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
CG
IT Engineer at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
A scalable solution with good data services, but the usability needs to be improved

Pros and Cons

  • "All of our main applications run on this solution, and it has done a stellar job."
  • "This solution is very hard to maintain and keep up."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

All of our main applications run on this solution, and it has done a stellar job.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the data services that are available.

What needs improvement?

This solution is very hard to maintain and keep up.

It would like the system to have better usability, where somebody who is less of an expert can still perform the basic functions. In general, simplify the system.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is extremely good. It scales really, really well.

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

In terms of performance, our old architecture was far behind and couldn't keep up. That was our tipping point when deciding to move to a new solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is complex. There are too many levels of architecture design, with lots of different layers of pointing connections. It takes a really well-trained skill set to get it up and running.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator for our implementation, and we found their service to be extremely good.

What was our ROI?

We have seen a return on investment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other solutions like HP and EMC, but we already had a lot of Cisco equipment and our engineers were trained on Cisco, so this solution made more sense.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody considering this solution is to do their homework. There are a lot of other solutions that do the same thing, but it depends on your use case. This is not the best fit for every situation.

Overall, I think that this is a great product, but it is very hard to maintain.

I would rate this solution a six out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
KK
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Rock solid platform, good redundancy, and ease of management, and the upgrade process is smooth and non-disruptive

Pros and Cons

  • "FlexPod has improved our company as far as ease of management, stability, and redundancy."
  • "The initial learning curve is pretty steep."

What is our primary use case?

We use this primarily for robosites, which means remote offices.

How has it helped my organization?

Honestly, we've standardized on it, so FlexPod has improved our company as far as ease of management, stability, and redundancy.

The solution's infrastructure enables us to run demanding and mission-critical workloads. With manufacturing, for example, we need to be up pretty much 24/7.

We've also seen an improvement in application performance with FlexPod, as well as increased staff productivity. Just the fact everything is up when we need it to be, and we're not waiting on downtime.

FlexPod also simplifies our support experience. With every site being on the same standard, we support it the same way everywhere, so it's easy to train new folks or offshore staff. In addition, it streamlines our IT administration.

What is most valuable?

Redundancy and stability are the most valuable attributes for us.

The validated designs are good to have. We do use them.

I have found the solution to be innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. It really gives me the ability to scale to the site's requirements and size.

FlexPod also reduces the time required to deploy our application.

What needs improvement?

It would be nice to have a simpler setup, and we could achieve that with UCS Central, but just the licensing for that is out of our scope from a cost perspective.

The initial learning curve is pretty steep.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been solid. Using Cisco-validated design, everything has been rock solid and redundant, and when there is an issue, obviously that redundancy comes into play.

It's been reliable, and it's nice that we can perform upgrades without downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I like the fact that we can add compute as needed, without downtime. From the storage side, I guess that's easy to expand as well, by just throwing down another shelf to the FlexPod.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is good.

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

Our older solutions were not as reliable.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was somewhat complex, but once you do it thirty, forty, or fifty times, you kind of know your standards.

What about the implementation team?

We used a vendor and had a very good experience with them.

What was our ROI?

Overall, the solution saves us money. We have seen an ROI, although I don't know the exact amount.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Dell, Vertex, Lenovo, and Nutanix were all under consideration. We chose FlexPod because that's what we kind of based our standard on. The redundancy and ease of upgrades not taking any downtime were also major factors.

What other advice do I have?

I would say that it is a rock solid platform, the redundancy is awesome, and ease of management and the upgrade process is smooth and non-disruptive.

Data center costs are a little bit more expensive with FlexPod, but you're paying for the redundancy and flexibility.

I would rate this as a ten out of ten. It's been a solid solution for us.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Alex Tsui
Senior Solution Engineer at a comms service provider with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Mature Converged Infrastructure for Mission-Critical Workloads

Pros and Cons

  • "For FlexPod, it is always trustworthy. I had previously never seen flex machines from other brands or associated with other products. FlexPod is a large investment and they are good enough to support it."
  • "Installation with FlexPod is a bit complex, but it can be upgraded easily. I think Flexpod is phasing out, but it is still the right solution."

What is our primary use case?

We sell FlexPod. We have different versions of the software people like. Because we are the main seller of the product, we have quite a few customers.

How has it helped my organization?

In the old days, when VMware was not so acceptable in large enterprises, the company offered customers pre-use coupons to replace their machines. 

For many large customers, they may or may not trust FlexPod in a sophisticated ecosystem. They still rely on the hardware to provide stability for large enterprises.

What is most valuable?

The best feature of FlexPod is the set scope array. It is produced by set options on the DHCP server using the Cisco UCS Manager with VMware.

What needs improvement?

FlexPod is a very mature product. It's a CI product with converged Netapp FAS storage and Stateless UCS compute for modern-day infrastructure. In terms of stability, FlexPod is the best in the industry. Installation with FlexPod is a bit complex, but it can be upgraded easily. I think Flexpod is phasing out, but it is still the right solution.

Installation with FlexPod is a bit complex, but it can be upgraded easily. I think Flexpod is phasing out, but it is still the right solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of FlexPod is best in the industry (at least in Hong Kong).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is quite good. You can simply use APT at the surface. There are no required dependencies. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Usually, FlexPod is good enough in terms of Cisco's product line support.

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

We have been using FlexPod here for about 10 years.

How was the initial setup?

For the initial setup, you have to follow the guide, step-by-step and version-specific for the installation. If you follow the guide step-by-step it is fairly simple, not that complex. 

We deploy for customers firsthand, usually within one week. Our last deployment of FlexPod took one to two months. It depends on the requirements.

What was our ROI?

For FlexPod, it is always trustworthy. I had previously never seen flex machines from other brands or associated with other products.

FlexPod is a large investment and they are good enough to support it. That is where we fully recognize long-term gains in ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The FlexPod licensing can adjust to your purse, i.e. there are different levels available for businesses of all sizes.

What other advice do I have?

If you want to have stability, then FlexPod is the easy way to go. Newer products may not be rated highly enough for large enterprise corporations to procure, i.e. it depends largely on the internal regulations in use for data center management.

I would rate FlexPod with a 9/10 because this software successfully carried out its mission.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
EricKutyla
Senior System Administrator at Bell Canada
Real User
Top 10
Stability is rock solid. With all the built in redundancy within the product, I find it very resilient.

Pros and Cons

  • "The initial setup is straightforward. It is all interface-based, so point and click."
  • "It is innovative because it's bare metal and you can customize it easily. This brings a lot of benefits to the solution."
  • "Since the addition of nodes, it is all automated now. What would normally take us around three to five hours in the past, has come down to 15 minutes to half an hour, creating a significant gain in time."
  • "Cisco support is much slower. Opening cases with Cisco tech is sometimes a bit tedious. The return time for less important calls can be slower. Even Priority 1 calls can sometimes be a bit long and they will have to call me back."

What is our primary use case?

We would probably use FlexPod in an Edge type of scenario for our COs to get closer to the customers, because our data center is already Cisco UCS with NetApp. This scenario with FlexPod would probably work well for our Edge deployments to get closer to customers.

We are NetApp/Cisco customers. We do have a similar implementation to FlexPod. Our main use case for its use is the virtual data center

How has it helped my organization?

The speed of scalability within the product and ease of integration are two factors which will play well with our environment.

We have seen a ten to 15 percent improvement in application performance.

What is most valuable?

The scale out allows us, in a small form factor, to scale out and get more compute and storage, as needed. This would be appreciated in our business.

It is innovative because it's bare metal and you can customize it easily. This brings a lot of benefits to the solution.

What needs improvement?

They could improve the Cisco technical support.

For how long have I used the solution?

Trial/evaluations only.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is rock solid. With all the built in redundancy within the product, I find it very resilient.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Since it's based off of Cisco UCS and all NetApp products, it has huge scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't called technical support for FlexPod. 

NetApp support is fantastic. The times that I've had to contact them, it was awesome. I was able to get to an engineer right away and the service was excellent. I even received more than what we asked for, additional information. So, it was very good. 

Cisco support is much slower. Opening cases with Cisco tech is sometimes a bit tedious. The return time for less important calls can be slower. Even Priority 1 calls can sometimes be a bit long and they will have to call me back.

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

We aren't investing in a new solution because we're currently using Cisco and NetApp products. We're most investing in a new configuration, which is FlexPod, since it aligns well with our current product lineup. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. It is all interface-based, so point and click. 

What was our ROI?

At the moment, we used it to expand, so we're actually spending money to get it.

We see the most ROI on ease of deployment and time spent. Since the addition of nodes, it is all automated now. What would normally take us around three to five hours in the past, has come down to 15 minutes to half an hour, creating a significant gain in time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't have a lot of vendors on the short list. We work with Nutanix in the past, which was a complete and utter failure. 

Seeing as we're a Cisco and NetApp shop, it was natural to go with FlexPod.

What other advice do I have?

Go for it. Just buy it. It's simple and out-of-the-box. Set it and forget it.

I haven't had time to look over the validated designs, but I have seen some in the past. I think that they are very helpful in getting a general idea and configuration guide to different products.

Bundled with the right products, multi-cloud environments could be a good asset. With its flexibility, it would allow for movement of workloads into multiple environments, which would be a great benefit.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Rodrigo Moncao
Storage Engineer Manager at Servix informatics
Real User
FlexPod is innovative when it comes to its product's validate design and functionalities

Pros and Cons

  • "ONTAP is the core of FlexPod, so its most valuable features are: FlexClone, Snapshot, and SnapCenter."
  • "I would like them to scale more to rack unit servers instead of blade servers."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case was for unified support, so our customers could ask us a question or receive support for any type of products. It could be for UCS, network, or storage.

Our customers use it for virtual machines and with VMware with tool sites, e.g., VMware solutions for DR.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod provides one solution for who to call when there is an issue.

What is most valuable?

ONTAP is the core of FlexPod, so its most valuable features are: FlexClone, Snapshot, and SnapCenter.

FlexPod is innovative when it comes to its product's validate design and functionalities. Plus, you have NetApp and Cisco, the best brands together in one product.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to scale more to rack unit servers instead of blade servers.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Since we implemented Flexpod, we have had two issues with it, and they were with VMware: 

  1. We lost connectivity between VMware and the storage. 
  2. We lost vCenter once. 

Neither has anything to do with Flexpod at all.

The solution is resilient because its intrinsic. For every product on the solution, we have Fabric Interconnects for the Cisco UCS, where you can move the profiles on the blades. It holds up well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod is better than HCI because you can scale wherever you want. You can scale the compute. You can also scale network and storage apart.

How are customer service and technical support?

FlexPod's tech support is very good.

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

We were previously using Dell EMC servers and storage. We were also using HPE networking. We switched due to the support and the products were getting old, needing better performance.

When migrating from Dell EMC, the performance increased by 200 percent. We now have hybrid which is faster with SSD and SaaS.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. Just follow the validation plan.

What about the implementation team?

We used NetApp and our team for the deployment. 

The validate designs are great because they made it easier to the deploy solution. Instead of about one week to install everything, with the validate\ solutions, it took us about two to three days.

What was our ROI?

We have save time because the implementation is easier and money because we have minimized support issues.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Because the solution is now stable, we are saving about $100 million USD a year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were considering Dell EMC solutions and a mix of products, such as NetApp plus Dell EMC servers and Extreme Networks switches. 

The FlexClone played a big part of us going with FlexPod along with the migration of the profile onto Cisco.

What other advice do I have?

Go with FlexPod as a solution. You shouldn't have any concerns.

For our implementation, our customers are just private cloud. They are not going to public or hybrid now, but customers know that they able to do it.

We use FlexPod with VMware vCloud. It is great. We use the plugins in VMware and all the validate solutions, which is awesome.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JC
Storage Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Its scalability is innovative for both compute and storage

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is resilient, because it has good scalability, and other products in the market don't have this. It has scalable storage and service."
  • "The initial setup is not complex. It is user-friendly since it is a single solution with all the components delivered in one package."
  • "We would like to see a new design that comes with more productivity or graphics. Currently, the vendors, like HPE and Dell EMC along with NetApp, all have very similar products. We want more diversification."

What is our primary use case?

FlexPod is a single product that you can manage. It has very good scalability. We can scale our UCS Servers. We can carry 12 storage nodes in the FlexPod. The main benefit is its single, all in one solution from server switch to storage.

How has it helped my organization?

It is enterprise storage. The latency is about five billion milliseconds, which is coming from the cloud servers. 

We have seen an 80 percent improvement in application performance.

What is most valuable?

If there are any failures, or anything needs to be addressed, we can make one call to support for assistance. 

No matter how busy the data is, we can put the data in the right place at the right time.

What needs improvement?

We would like to see a new design that comes with more productivity or graphics. Currently, the vendors, like HPE and Dell EMC along with NetApp, all have very similar products. We want more diversification.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is resilient, because it has good scalability, and other products in the market don't have this. It has scalable storage and service. 

The scalability is innovative for both compute and storage. With other products, we can't scale the storage space, we have to buy more storage. E.g. with Dell EMC, if we want more storage with VxBlock, we have to purchase another VxBlock.

How is customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. I have been working with NetApp for the last two to three years, and they have solutions readily available for bug and code fixes. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex. It is user-friendly since it is a single solution with all the components delivered in one package.

What about the implementation team?

NetApp does some of our installations on some products, like SolidFire. However, they pass the data on to us, and we have to do the configuration.

What was our ROI?

It saves a lot of time because it is a single product. We also save time with the installation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is cheaper than other products. For example, Dell EMC VxBlock is more expensive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated EMC VxBlock, which has a similar design. Both products have flexibility.

The difference is NetApp's response time of 0.5 milliseconds, which we felt was very good.

What other advice do I have?

This flexible is very good for private cloud solutions.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Obi Vellore
Senior Project Consultant at DynTek
MSP
It's amazingly scalable. It can expand to large MetroClusters and keep expanding.

Pros and Cons

  • "FlexPod provides very small footprint. We can have it in our offices without bothering with extra cooling, as it is a small unit."
  • "It's amazingly scalable. It just works. It can expand to large MetroClusters and keep expanding."
  • "The initial setup is complex because it has to be done in a certain way."
  • "We want always more speed, capacity, fluidity, and growth that we can easily integrate."

What is our primary use case?

We have a FlexPod in our lab. I have implemented or deployed FlexPod for many customers.

Most of the use case that I have seen is to either adjust on size or if the customer is modernizing their current infrastructure and does not want to go the traditional route, wanting to have some type of convergence. The customer is usually be more comfortable with a flexible solution because there's a lot of choice and scale.

Depending on the customer needs, I've delivered extremely large and complex to very simple solutions. The most attractive thing for customers is how good the consolidation is. Sometimes, if they had a previous infrastructure of five or six racks, we can then bring them down to a rack or even half a rack. This is mind-blowing to them as their performance is increased tenfold and their infrastructure has shrunk. The power consumption shrinks and the management is simple.

How has it helped my organization?

We are a smaller operation in terms of our infrastructure needs. FlexPod provides very small footprint. We can have it in our offices without bothering with extra cooling, as it is a small unit.

Once you have FlexPod installed and customers start using it, they love it. They realize that they can now wrap API around it and can deploy something which would've taken them a couple of days or a week in a few minutes to an hour. When IT people see these metrics, they are very happy.

What is most valuable?

It's just a single pane of glass. Everybody loves that from the first time they see it.

Our customers see the value of multi-cloud environments and the unlimited amount of growth that they provide.

From the customer standpoint, FlexPod is easier to buy, provision, and have it deployed. 

It is innovative in the sense of how all the different pieces are brought together, then it feels like it's a single fabric. It is actual fabric, which is innovative too.

What needs improvement?

All the cabling can be scary when you first see it. It looks complex.

We want always more speed, capacity, fluidity, and growth that we can easily integrate.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable. This goes to show how much work and attention to detail is in these products from NetApp and Cisco.

The solution is resilient. It is very simple for patching or anything because FlexPod is a solution made to fit all the different companies in the big picture. Upgrades trickle down to all different parts of the product. This avoids patching problems at the part level.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's amazingly scalable. It just works. It can expand to large MetroClusters and keep expanding.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is very simple. You have one number to call. The support team will do whatever needs to be done, then your case is resolved.

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

We've worked with Cisco for a long time. So, we ended up deploying most of our solutions with them, which were similar, even before there was FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex because it has to be done in a certain way.

What about the implementation team?

We do the deployment for our customers. We also do the implementation for other resellers.

What was our ROI?

I have saved time on new service deployments. I've done deployments in under a week, and if it's a cloud-based deployment, it's even faster.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Sometimes you may end up spending a little more to get it in the first place, but you gain it back in terms of infrastructure upgrade costs and troubleshooting costs. The solution also lasts a surprisingly long time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We weren't considering anyone else because our customers were happy with Cisco's previous solutions.

What other advice do I have?

Consider all your business needs. Go through the process and data mine before deciding on a solution.

I like the validate designs. The versatility may seem restricting, but you need to be creative of it. You need to find ways to create and get it in. The flexibility is there, but you may have to think a little out of the box for it.

Everyone has done private cloud. I see a lot of customers moving towards the hybrid model. Where you could do it in different ways. I've seen people have an infrastructure and service provider, then they realize quickly that it is not the solution for them and want to move back. However, it is not that easy. You have to pay going in and going out, as there is time and effort involved, as well as additional work. However, with FlexPod, it doesn't matter which cloud solution that you pick. You can move any which way. I am just starting a multi-cloud project that does this now. The flexibility of it is amazing.

We don't use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud as we are very small.

When I get involved in FlexPod project delivery, my life has been easy.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
RM
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
The validated designs save us research time and our data access rate is much faster

Pros and Cons

  • "Our performance increase has been about 15 percent from what we previously used."
  • "There have been issues upgrading the firmware."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it to have production workloads running on it.

How has it helped my organization?

Our performance increase has been about 15 percent from what we previously used.

What is most valuable?

It is the integration between the Cisco, VMware, and NetApp as a combined internal solution. The data access rate is much faster than if we were doing it by ourselves.

It has boosted performance.

What needs improvement?

There have been issues upgrading the firmware.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. I haven't seen any issues. It is working fine.

We have found the solution to be resilient. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. We can expand it whenever we want.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. When we want something, they can do it or will redirect to the correct team. It's how we get the right solution with a single click.

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

We need to invest in a new solution because of our end users' compliance.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant for the deployment. They walked us through it very nicely.

What was our ROI?

We have seen a five to ten percent savings on new service deployments.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are already using NetApp storage products, and we are using the competition, like VxBlock. In addition, we are using Cisco hardware and VMware. So, we have already done our internal research.

What other advice do I have?

Go for it as a solution.

I like the validated designs because we don't have to do more research on it. Research has already been done by trustworthy companies, like Cisco, NetApp, and VMware. They have provided us with the properly designed ones, which is less headache for us.

We do not use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, but maybe in the future.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JH
Senior Storage Engineer at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Leaderboard
We have had scalability issues as we have grown into a large company. Though, we have seen an improvement in our application performance.

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable is the one support. I have a 1-800 number. I call one number rather than figuring out whether it's a network, compute, or storage issue. It is beautiful and works out nicely."
  • "We have seen a 20 percent improvement in application performance."
  • "We have experienced issues with patching. When there are Cisco releases, there are some vulnerabilities, i.e., security vulnerabilities. We are as a financial company and need to be on top patching. As a company, we cannot have continuous downtime to do patching, which is a challenge that we have faced."

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod is a design with everything in one bag. This helped us initially when we consolidated everything into one box.

It was innovative in the beginning. So, it was a very effective proposal. We were dealing with multiple vendors and support. This initially solved our problems, so we could focus on some other areas. However, we had to come back to it and address other challenges.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable is the one support. I have a 1-800 number. I call one number rather than figuring out whether it's a network, compute, or storage issue. It is beautiful and works out nicely.

What needs improvement?

We have experienced issues with patching. When there are Cisco releases, there are some vulnerabilities, i.e., security vulnerabilities. We are as a financial company and need to be on top patching. As a company, we cannot have continuous downtime to do patching, which is a challenge that we have faced.

Another issues is that Cisco lists some patching, but NetApp is not certified for it, or vice versa. It's very difficult to keep up-to-date all our levels. Then, we slowly started spinning up our own versions of Cisco separately from NetApp and NetApp separate from Cisco. This has worked well for us.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Initially, when we started downsizing our data center, we consolidated a lot of equipment into FlexPod. The fewer racks and companies to deal with: one vendor and one support. This sounded good when we were small. Initially, everything was certified, and read and worked beautifully. However, when we scaled up, because the business grew, we had real scalability challenges, as FlexPod is designed for a small to mid-size customers.

With FlexPod, there is a vertical limit for everything.

It is somewhat resilient. If your company has equally scaled growth in all area, then maybe FlexPod is good. However, if your network is growing 200 percent, but the storage is only 100 percent, or maybe the company is only 50 percent, then the apps didn't scale up right. This will create bigger challenges.

How is customer service and technical support?

Tech support has been good. There are no issues with NetApp or Cisco. 

We would like to see the tech support timing match better with our business needs. This is definitely becoming more challenging.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward. There is a lot certification on the workload, so we don't have to worry about it.

What about the implementation team?

We used ACS, who was good and knowledgeable.

What was our ROI?

Our first couple of years, our ROI was good. It helped us to lower the cost on the management of setup operations. It also helped to maintain the minimal outage window, when there is an outage that happens.

We have saved 50 percent on new service deployments and a 20 percent improvement in application performance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Everything was NetApp initially, but we were independently buying the equipment from Cisco through NetApp. This worked for us beautifully because it was the same vendor who we were dealing with and everything was certified in a box.

What other advice do I have?

There are a lot option based on your workload. Think about the next five years: How will your business grow? Then, is FlexPod is the right way to go?

In addition, what happens when there is a bug identified in one of the layer? Will you need to shut down the whole thing because just you encountered that one thing?

Everything is perfect with the validate designs. However, they are not designed for large customers. They are designed for SMBs and small data centers.

Multi-cloud environments can work well for some use cases, like expanding data centers.

We do not use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
JF
Systems Administrator at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
The solution is innovative. It handles virtual networking.

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is innovative. It handles virtual networking. Also, it can upgrade blades and continue working seamlessly, which is excellent."
  • "I am happy with the stability. I haven't had any major issues with it in four years. This includes upgrades."
  • "We would like FlexPod to have more power, though it is not lacking in power now."
  • "We would like them to have better features to integrate with the cloud."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for running our VM environment. We have three different data centers that use FlexPod: two in North America and one in Europe. Our daily job is important.

We use it FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, which is fast, reliable, and trustworthy.

How has it helped my organization?

Since we started, we have been improving and changing the hardware and performance.

What is most valuable?

The solution is innovative. It handles virtual networking. Also, it can upgrade blades and  continue working seamlessly, which is excellent.

The option to allow me a different storage connection. 

What needs improvement?

  • We would like FlexPod to have more power, though it is not lacking in power now.
  • The old design of FlexPod made it difficult to remove old hardware and add new servers.
  • We would like them to have better features to integrate with the cloud.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I am happy with the stability. I haven't had any major issues with it in four years. This includes upgrades.

We have never had a problem with the hardware, even when something apparently fails. The response from the support is amazing. We can have changes for things up in less than four hours.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We started with three initial chassis. Now, we have six in Miami, ten in Toronto, and six in Europe.

How are customer service and technical support?

The tech support is good. They could improve their response times. However, the tech team knows what they are talking about. So, I'm happy with them.

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

We were previously using NetApp, which is why we wanted FlexPod. We wanted to virtualize our servers, but also needed more storage and power.

How was the initial setup?

While I wouldn't change a thing, it was not easy coming from our old environment. You have local and different servers and have to pull everything together. It took us a year and a half to deploy the first FlexPod and have it be total functionally. After that, the process was simple. Nowadays, things are easier to deploy.

What about the implementation team?

We used NetApp and Cisco for the deployment. Our experience with them was good. NetApp install all our storage center apps and Cisco handled the computer environment, which is stable.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. We have saved time, money, space, and power consumption on new service deployments. We have a data center in Toronto which had ten racks on one of the new servers. This was all reduced to two racks with six chassis, which is amazing.

While initially the application performance was slower, we now have seen 100 percent improvement in application performance after all the required connectors were added.

What other advice do I have?

The idea of validate designs is excellent.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
RP
Senior Infrastructure Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Deployment and confirmation times have reduced significantly

Pros and Cons

  • "Validate designs are a good. They work in the background to combine all the infrastructure and storage. They create automation which can create volumes and attach VMs directly to massive CIFS."
  • "With the next solution, if there is a virtual Flex part where we can deploy it to private clouds or in public clouds rather tying up the hardware, it would reduce costs and complexity. Then, we could do a lot more automation."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for VMs in our virtual environment.

How has it helped my organization?

It has reduced costs because we are not buying a lot of infrastructure or physical servers. Also, deployment and confirmation times have reduced significantly with our use of this solution. We can speed up by VMs at the rate of ten to 15 minutes, then give it to our customers.

What is most valuable?

  • Deduplication
  • Compression

Validate designs are a good. They work in the background to combine all the infrastructure and storage. They create automation which can create volumes and attach VMs directly to massive CIFS. This is now easily done.

What needs improvement?

With the next solution, if there is a virtual Flex part where we can deploy it to private clouds or in public clouds rather tying up the hardware, it would reduce costs and complexity. Then, we could do a lot more automation.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty stable. We haven't had any issues, so it's pretty resilient.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can easily scale up or down, and add more storage instead of VMs.

We haven't done lot of scaling at this time because we have around 2000 to 3000 VMs. Initially, we bought the whole storage of compute needed for our VMs, so we haven't scaled up. Currently, we are looking at scaling up a little more. It seem pretty easy to add more nodes.

How are customer service and technical support?

NetApp technical support is very good. We have our own dedicated TAMs and SAMs assigned, and support has a nice dashboard where log into support and see all our systems. We can see the performance, data, etc. 

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

The previous solution required us to buy a server or node for the cabling, deployment, configuration, which meant a lot of time and resources every time we had to buy more nodes or servers and add them. We don't have this with FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

Take a look at FlexPod and do a PoC. Compare it to other products and you will see the huge savings.

It provides all the network information needed, such as how to create pools and set up servers. It is pretty easy.

When we install, it is an innovative, because we have all of the products in one box and one frame. This reduces all the cabling and all IPs needed as they are already there.

What about the implementation team?

NetApp helped us with the setup.

What was our ROI?

We have saved money using FlexPod. We have saved time and money for new service deployments. 

What other advice do I have?

Private cloud is good as long as it justifies the cost of putting your data in public clouds. If you're a financial client, you can't put all your financial data in a public cloud, as per government policies. However, if it's not critical data nor personal data of the customer, then it should be okay to put it on a public cloud as long as it justifies the price.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AS
Associate VP at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Reseller
It has amazing power to scale, but due to our environment, we are not reaping the optimal ROI

Pros and Cons

  • "The data is available, compressed, and deduped."
  • "Our environment does not always require this solution, so we are not reaping the optimal ROI."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our customer's work that we do because we are an IT service provider. We do application development and testing. For this purpose, the data is with us and we work with FlexPod for their data.

How has it helped my organization?

It is a very nice solution because, traditionally, we used to spend more time administrating  managing. The developer has to do things differently. Therefore, we put it in a self-service mode for the developer community.

What is most valuable?

The data is available, compressed, and deduped. Also, when the customer wants, the data can be segregated.

The validate designs do not fail. They give good performance, which provide us with business benefits. Also, before it fails, it has predictive failure features.

What needs improvement?

Our environment does not always require this solution, so we are not reaping the optimal ROI.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's quite stable. The days are gone where we had instability and call customer care.

There is a lot of resiliency now. We do not need to configure the product once it is built. This was not the case in the earlier days of the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It has amazing power to scale.

How is customer service and technical support?

The technical support is quite good. We have never faced any problems where the a business has been impacted. We are very happy with it.

What about the implementation team?

We deal directly with NetApp, and our experience has been good. They are productive because we normally discuss our blueprints with them as a partner. We discuss everything and it gets deployed smoothly.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI and saved time and money for new service deployments.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have been using NetApp products since 2002. We have not found any serious competition.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend NetApp.

Organizations are going towards cloud environments. However, as we are doing customers' projects, we do not go for external cloud, we do it on our internal private cloud. Our priority is to respect the customer's data in the internal private cloud. We are using FlexPod with Managed Private Cloud. 

We are looking towards more advanced HCI deployments now, and we're looking forward to the AI, which will be in concert with Insight. Analytics with AI will be much more beneficial and we are already trying to adopt HCI.

We are targeting now towards HCI because it is more converged towards compute, network and storage. We hope to gain more benefit using HCI, as well as AFF.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
JG
Systems Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
They have dedicated support. When you call, you're going to get virtualization, storage, and compute support.

Pros and Cons

  • "I have found the platform to be resilient, mainly because all the hardware is fault-tolerant. It has built-in HA, so if one of the components goes down, you're covered by the platform itself."
  • "I would like more orchestration and networking in-between the VMs, the virtualization layer for networking. I would like to see better tools for this."

What is our primary use case?

We use it mainly for consolidation in the data center.

How has it helped my organization?

Because the platform is a hyperconverged environment, we expect more from the technologies that manage it. We expect people to know system storage, networking, and virtualization. In the past, a lot of engineers were specific to either virtualization or network. However, there is a need now for everyone to know an element of all of those factors so they can better manage these hyperconverged and converged platforms.

What is most valuable?

Orchestrating and automating deployment of servers and storage are its most valuable features. We use it for automating the profile for specific VMs. The orchestration is innovative.

What I like about FlexPod, there is a lot of knowledge based on it and a lot of field experience now. There are design templates that we can deploy, and follow best practices leveraging other peoples' experience and expertise. This way, we can always follow best practices when deploying it.

What needs improvement?

I would like more orchestration and networking in-between the VMs, the virtualization layer for networking. I would like to see better tools for this. For example, the VM to VM networking needs to be better.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is solid. 

I have found the platform to be resilient, mainly because all the hardware is fault-tolerant. It has built-in HA, so if one of the components goes down, you're covered by the platform itself.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I have multiple models. You can start out with one or two platforms, then scale it up. They have some great management tools that you can use to orchestrate the whole environment. So, you don't have to go to one server at a time. You can manage a multitude of them.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the tech support as a ten out of ten. They have a consolidated support team, so you can receive the help you need since they have dedicated support. When you call, you're going to get virtualization, storage, and compute support.

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

The industry is going mainly for CAPEX, where people are spending less on individual devices, and most of working capital is going to converged or hyperconverged systems. Basically, we can leverage whatever money we're spending on the solution and get more technology built into the same platform.

How was the initial setup?

There is a workbook, so we just use it with our client. It helps us know what they need for implementation. The workbook categorizes all the different information they need, so they know what to expect during the installation. This make the setup clear and concise. They can review the workbook and have plenty of time to fill it out. 

What about the implementation team?

We use an integrator for deployments. Our experience with them has been solid. They deliver what they say they will deliver. They get the northbound network connectivity correct. 

A lot of times with converged or hyperconverged platforms, one of the hardest parts is the networking. When you hire a consultant or an integrator, you expect them to know the unwritten rules of implementing. Sometimes, those are battle-tested; things you learn in the field. That's what I'd expect from a consultant or an integrator.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

You get better management and orchestration, but it still costs you money. You won't be spending less money to go to new technology. You're just getting more. You're still spending a lot of money.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated IBM VersaStack and Dell EMC with their VxBlock.  

FlexPod has more time in the field with more street knowledge. Their support and professional services are better, because people have experience with it. There is not a lot of field knowledge on VersaStack yet. While VxBlock is solid, FlexPod has more experience in the field.

What other advice do I have?

The solution is trustworthy, and it has proven itself too. You get what you pay for. It's the oldest hyperconverged platform in our industry. There's something to be said for that.

The solution works great for multi-cloud environments because you can segment the platform.

FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud makes it easier to manage a large number of environments for a company. This makes it a bit more streamlined on management, deployment, and orchestration.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
SI
Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
We have been able to save space although they could make it more user-friendly

Pros and Cons

  • "We have absolutely been able to save space."
  • "I would also like to feel more support. NetApp has been pretty good, for the most part, but Cisco has more work to do. I've had very good experience with NetApp. Instead of having to call three different areas and saying, "I'm a FlexPod customer." It would be nice if it could be just one that gets routed. I know it would require three large companies to work together, but that's what would make this product a ten. They could definitely use with making it more user-friendly."

What is our primary use case?

One place to go for support. 

How has it helped my organization?

We're a team of people working for a hospital and everybody has their own areas of expertise. If you're ever in a bind and there's a NetApp issue, there's practically nobody there with another specialization. They could call up FlexPod and handle the issue.

In some ways, it can be like an insurance policy. We can hold the person selling us FlexPod accountable anytime we're in a bind. As a FlexPod customer, you're fully supported or back supported, whatever the case may be - in theory. 

What is most valuable?

There are three different areas of specialization, so if somebody who's not familiar with all the technologies isn't there, they can still handle a support issue.

What needs improvement?

There's no interface I can go and see that it works properly or sometimes it's hard to explain to people. 

Right now you're told to just email or call support and say, "We're a FlexPod customer." It would be nice if there was a number to call or an email address.

I would like to see more involvement with cloud integrating and to be kept more in the loop and up to date. They don't want to take ownership of their bad firmware levels. 

I would also like to feel more support. NetApp has been pretty good, for the most part, but Cisco has more work to do. I've had very good experience with NetApp. Instead of having to call three different areas and saying, "I'm a FlexPod customer." It would be nice if it could be just one that gets routed. I know it would require three large companies to work together, but that's what would make this product a ten. They could definitely use with making it more user-friendly.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've not had too much use for it. It's fine.

How are customer service and technical support?

Approachability is an issue. It should be more approachable and easier to feel like you're paying for a service and you're using it. 

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

It was just a refresh of storage and hardware that got everyone talking. And then this was the solution.

How was the initial setup?

My colleagues mentioned that it was very easy. 

What was our ROI?

We have absolutely been able to save space. I am comparing it to my previous experience because we did not have a FlexPod solution so we had everything working piecemeal. That's very hard to manage and, if anything would go wrong, I'd always feel like it's me to blame. Here, I feel like I have an insurance policy. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you can afford it, I would certainly go for it. I don't think there are very many other options. Now you have HCI, so you could skip the Cisco piece. I'm not an HCI customer but I would assume it would have better, tighter integration than Cisco and NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

It would be so wonderful to incorporate private hybrid and multi-cloud environments. And even rope in some of these cloud providers.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
NF
Manager of Network Services at a legal firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
We haven't had a shortcoming in performance nor data loss

Pros and Cons

  • "We found FlexPod to be innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking. We've taken advantage of their storage optimizations to obtain better use out of the space. We upgraded to All Flash FAS (AFF), which has provided a huge performance increase that we haven't barely scratched the surface of. We have plenty of overhead, so that's always nice when taking on tasks which might have otherwise taxed a smaller system."
  • "We would like them to improve the validate designs. It is hard to stay in a supported config with the software and firmware versions of the platform. It's always a concern to ensure things not only work well, but they work at all. If we run into incompatibility inside of the NetApp, Cisco, or VMware versions, it can cause real issues."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod in our data centers. We serve all of our infrastructure off of it, which includes Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, and Citrix. It is all virtualized. We are also using the file share from FlexPod with Snapshotting and SnapMirroring for disaster recovery (DR) between data centers.

How has it helped my organization?

We haven't experienced any data loss while on NetApp. The stability of it has probably been the biggest benefit. Because of FlexPod's performance and flexibility, our company is doing much better than what we previously used.

We found FlexPod to be innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking. We've taken advantage of their storage optimizations to obtain better use out of the space. We upgraded to All Flash FAS (AFF), which has provided a huge performance increase that we haven't barely scratched the surface of. We have plenty of overhead, so that's always nice when taking on tasks which might have otherwise taxed a smaller system. However, we have a lot of overhead, so this isn't an issue for us.

Because of the stability that we have had on it, it has met our needs on everything. We haven't had a shortcoming in performance nor data loss.

What is most valuable?

In regards to DR and backup:

  • Performance
  • Stability
  • Capability.

What needs improvement?

Validate designs are hard. They don't validate all of the available options. We don't generally end up in a validated configuration. We did on our initial install when they first rolled out the FlexPod platform. Over time, we've done upgrades, and we don't necessarily fit into a validated design anymore.

We would like them to improve the validate designs. It is hard to stay in a supported config with the software and firmware versions of the platform. It's always a concern to ensure things not only work well, but they work at all. If we run into incompatibility inside of the NetApp, Cisco, or VMware versions, it can cause real issues.

They should continue to educate and support their Tier 1 support, so we have better, faster resolutions. As the years have gone by, we haven't quite received as good resolution at Tier 1 as we used to. Occasionally, scheduling techs onsite is problematic. There are some gaps in the handoff between the call-in support to on-site support. It would be nice if this was cleaned up, so we didn't have to be quite as involved with verifying techs will be on site or ensuring that techs onsite receive all the information.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As long as it stays in a supported config, the stability is very good. If you leave the supported config, you get directed to come back into a supported config if you have any issues.

We have good resiliency with our FlexPods. I don't know if we've taken advantage of the built-in HA. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had much experience with scalability. We gave ourselves room to grow into the product. We've only done any real scaling at refresh time. 

How are customer service and technical support?

It has not always been the single point of contact for all of vendors who participate as it was sold to be. Occasionally, we end up having to go to each vendor, and there isn't as much cross-vendor support as we had wanted.

There is always room for improvement in support. We want the intercompany communications to not have us have to contact vendors separately to work on one issue. We want them to own it internally, which would be a lot more helpful. This is what they're supposed to do.

Compared to some other vendors, we still receive good support. Unfortunately, the issue being that they still seem to be separate support buckets rather than integrated support. It's hard to ding the platform overall, but that's probably where I would ding it at the moment.

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

We were using HPE G-Series Servers. We needed a lot more space and performance, since I'm not sure that we had good performance metrics at the time that we moved solutions. However, we were looking to expand our Exchange environment and have more SQL. We wanted making sure that we had enough I/O, and the FlexPod system had it. In addition, integrating with UCS made it much more flexible to add compute in our VM environment, and we were going from physical to virtual at the time. Thus, we cut down on the amount of space and power that we were using by going to blade chassis.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex at the time our deployment where there was a lot of moving parts. My understanding is that they have since tried to implement more streamlining. 

What about the implementation team?

We used Plan B Technologies out of Maryland, and we also used NetApp. We had a good experience with the install. It was all-new moving parts for us, since FlexPod was brand new at the time. We spent a fair amount of time whiteboarding the solution with them. We visited Raleigh-Durham to go on campus to see some of the hardware to get a better understanding of what we were going to be buying.

What was our ROI?

We have seen an improvement in application performance. We are pushing a lot more I/O and flexibility. We came from systems which did not have thin provisioning. Therefore, we are more flexible in being able to give out space or have I/O, especially with the AFF being all-flash. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We probably looked at Dell EMC. We were on HPE SAN for quite awhile. I don't know if we looked at anybody else.

One of the deciders for us in looking at NetApp was, even years ago, they just seemed to be in a much better position in the marketplace. We were pretty confident that they would be around in five years, whereas, some of the other smaller vendors might not be, especially with consolidations going on.

What other advice do I have?

We have saved time with Snapshots, SnapMirrors, and backup and DR capabilities versus other platforms that we have looked at in the past. However, for new deployments, we have not saved, because we don't have any automation on top for deploying VMs or shares. It doesn't really seem to be part of the FlexPod platform.

We don't use it for hybrid cloud, multi-cloud environments, or Managed Private Cloud.

Everything that we are looking for feature-wise seems to be coming out in ONTAP or VMware releases.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TD
Operations Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We can scale it as needed; it's definitely a very flexible solution to scale out.

Pros and Cons

  • "It is innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking, because there are a lot of the storage efficiencies which allow us to keep a smaller footprint."
  • "We have also seen an improvement in our application performance. Our VM and database environments are able to go as fast as we need them to now."
  • "Sometimes, it can take awhile for support cases to get to the right people, especially if it's not a P1 case."
  • "Parts of the initial setup were complex, especially on the networking side."

What is our primary use case?

It's pretty much our infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

We can scale it out quickly, if needed.

We have also seen an improvement in our application performance. Our VM and database environments are able to go as fast as we need them to now.

What is most valuable?

  • Scalability
  • Flexibility
  • Overall time saved.
  • The compatibility of all the products together.

The validate designs and the overall versatility allows us to do what we need to do, so it's definitely a very flexible solution. If we have an issue, we can get all three vendors on the phone at the same time because of the collaboration between all three parties.

What needs improvement?

We would like to have faster components.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have no downtime. It's resilient because there is very little downtime, if any.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can scale it as needed. So, it's definitely a very flexible solution to scale out.

How is customer service and technical support?

Once we get to the right people, we get the issues fixed. Sometimes, it can take awhile for support cases to get to the right people, especially if it's not a P1 case. P1 cases are usually quicker.

How was the initial setup?

Parts of the initial setup were complex, especially on the networking side. The other two components were pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant, but did the deployment ourselves.

What was our ROI?

We can just swap in new equipment or hardware as we need, which has probably saved us several weeks.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Dell EMC and Brocade, but the knowledge was all there for NetApp and Cisco. VMware was always in-house.

We have been on FlexPod for a while now. It was the way the industry was going, so we followed.

What other advice do I have?

It is definitely worth looking into, especially if you have lower-end components that do the exact same thing.

It is innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking, because there are a lot of the storage efficiencies which allow us to keep a smaller footprint.

We are not using FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud. While we don't do cloud yet, we might consider it in the future.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dan  Scullen
Senior Systems Engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton
Real User
It has built-in redundancy and multipathing. If there is an issue with one part, it doesn't fail automatically.

Pros and Cons

  • "It is absolutely resilient. It has built-in redundancy and multipathing. If there is an issue with one part, it doesn't fail automatically."
  • "It's flexible. You can scale up or out. Our environment has never needed it, but the option has always been there."
  • "Make it easier to refresh hardware. We got to the point where we couldn't fix vulnerabilities without refreshing the hardware, then that became a little too expensive for us to do."

What is our primary use case?

Our FlexPod solution is designed to isolate a sensitive data environment. We're able to use the technology to silo it away from the rest of our hosting environment.

What is most valuable?

  1. Being able to have completely compatible hardware top to bottom and storage compute networking. This way, we're not spending time researching what works with what. 
  2. The single call to support for any issue. We like to use the phrase, "One throat to choke."

What needs improvement?

Make it easier to refresh hardware. We got to the point where we couldn't fix vulnerabilities without refreshing the hardware, then that became a little too expensive for us to do.

We would like FlexPod to have in its roadmap: Keeping the hardware refreshed. It should be a little less expensive, not having all of the pieces go end of life at the same time.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. We've had it for six or seven years, and it's still working.

It is absolutely resilient. It has built-in redundancy and multipathing. If there is an issue with one part, it doesn't fail automatically.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's flexible. You can scale up or out. Our environment has never needed it, but the option has always been there.

How is customer service and technical support?

The tech support has been great. Being able to have one call, whether it is to Cisco or NetApp. If there was ever an issue, they can hand the ticket over without us having to do it ourselves.

What about the implementation team?

When it was bought, it was through a reseller (CDW). We go through them for a lot of stuff, and they are great. They are in touch with all of the vendors. We can go to them, then they can reach out and put us in touch with the vendors. They're a fantastic middleman.

What was our ROI?

The investment has been great. We put our money into it and it has given us something that we have been able to rely on for years.

We have been able to save time on new service deployments. When it was originally setup, it probably saved us several hours.

What other advice do I have?

FlexPod is worth consideration. It's not necessarily something that you have to buy as a pod. You can buy the pieces individually, then get it classified. Anybody who is looking to consolidate physical into a virtual environment, it's great for that or any type of private hosting environment. It works really well.

The validate designs and overall versatility are some of the reasons that we decided to go with FlexPod. It's all been prevalidated, and we know it will work, which is valuable for us.

This solution is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. It comes back to the compatibility. Everything working from top to bottom has been great. Also, knowing the technology has been validated makes everything more streamlined.

I'm part of the managed services team, and our current FlexPod is a private cloud. However, FlexPod gives you the opportunity to keep it private, but at the same time, you have the ability to go hybrid, making it public. So, it's very versatile.

Despite our FlexPod being six to seven years old, it still works to this day. We do face some vulnerability issues that can only be fixed with a hardware refresh. Unfortunately, we went a different direction away from FlexPod. Everything had been great up until we had to do the tech refresh.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Aaron Kimball
Solutions Architect at GDT - General Datatech
Real User
Our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot

Pros and Cons

  • "Our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot."
  • "It's all converged into one consolidated platform, which works well together."
  • "I would like to see programmability into a SaaS-based offering, as I know Cisco's going in a lot of directions with their Intersight application."

What is our primary use case?

We have a customer who is looking for a converged infrastructure to deploy multi-cloud solutions for on-premise solutions.

Our customers use FlexPod today. Our impressions of it are great. It fits our customer's demands. We like the way that it integrates into their environments. Being that Netapp and Cisco have partnered together on it, along with VMware, and Microsoft, there is a good relationship with all of those companies working together.

How has it helped my organization?

We can get designs built quickly and into the customer's doors; essentially, our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot. Not only that, FlexPod does a stellar job being able to run workloads.

What is most valuable?

  • Its flexibility
  • The continuous innovation
  • All the thought that goes into the product.
  • The backing teams who are behind it.

It's all converged into one consolidated platform, which works well together.

The validate designs are great. They are a reference point that you can provide to the customer base to convey what the designs look like as a whole. You can go in, reference how components work together as a whole, what firmware versions you need to run, and what those configurations need to look like. They are helpful in time to deliver to customers.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see programmability into a SaaS-based offering, as I know Cisco's going in a lot of directions with their Intersight application. I would like to know how that will integrate into converged infrastructure onsite, where it can either be the Intersight application running on the FlexPod or a SaaS-based offering on the cloud. Then, how would they maybe integrate some of the NetApp features into Intersight? This is the next step that I want to see taken with the product.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a stable environment. The solution is resilient. There is a redundancy that is built inside of the platform, even down to the power. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can grow within the environment or you can scale to a different pod architecture. It allows for easy scaling. You can scale within or outside of it. So, it's resilient and scalable, which makes it a great platform.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great. 

  1. The technical support will do handoff support between the multiple vendors which the customer is working with that. 
  2. They have a support level which takes the Level 1 calls. The customer calls into it, and it's a single reach number. The customer has the capability to call in and have the solution or trouble ticket worked on or look into.
  3. For partners, they have a support model which allows us to take a Level 1 support call and help the customers out as well. 

There are three support levels that FlexPod works within, which is great.

How was the initial setup?

Once you have a plan, it's around 80 percent planning and 20 percent execution. As long as you follow the CVDs and understand what information is going into them, collecting all the information upfront. 

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrator and do the deployments of the solution.

What was our ROI?

It has saved us hundreds of man-hours by using this converged infrastructure.

From our customer's perspective, they're not spending much time on troubleshooting, resolutions, etc. They have a solid platform which allows them to run applications, workloads, and have their business running at a top level.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Because of the way they slice things up, you have FlexPod Express, FlexPod Datacenter, and FlexPod Select, which allows you to go small, medium, and large with multiple locations.

  • If you have ROBO locations, you can go to Express.
  • If you're looking at a converged infrastructure, you can use FlexPod Datacenter.
  • You can use FlexPod Select if you need to have that pocketed application which needs top-notch performance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We work with multiple vendors being a channel partner. We work with all different types: HPE, Dell EMC, and Cisco. We love working with them. Their teams are awesome to work with, and it only makes sense since Cisco's partnered with Netapp. There's not a big stretch in an alliance thing. They have a great partnership together, so there are not competing in the same space, especially when it comes to converged infrastructure.

What other advice do I have?

It is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking because they are continuously updating the UCS infrastructure and continuously adding new FAS and AFF units into it. They're continuously updating the Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs), so there's definitely innovation which goes into it, almost on a daily basis. They continue to update the number of CVDs available, so it makes our life a lot easier on the sales delivery side. 

For on-premise solutions, it allows our customers to be able to move workloads in and out of the cloud. This allows for the hybrid model. It gives on-premise security, but if they have workloads that require cloud-based applications or containerized applications, then they can the capability of moving their workloads into the cloud. So, it's all about application overloading.

There is a lot of information on www.flexpod.com. I recommend using that as a starting point. There are CVD links there too.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
MP
Capacity Manager at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
The validate designs give you an easy building block to configure and set the system up

Pros and Cons

  • "It's a common platform, which provides for ease of use between all of the blade servers. It uses all the same tech, moving service profiles seamlessly across from one blade to the next. There is also combined support."
  • "There are too many management products: System Insight Manager, Oakum, etc. There are a lot of them and you have to know which one to use at which time. Whereas, with competitors, they have a single pane of glass view which has everything in it."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is a mixture of workloads. We have VMware, Citrix, Oracle and SAP, which are all running within the FlexPod stack.

How has it helped my organization?

It created lower total cost of ownership. Previously, we had disparate storage and servers, and there were bits of kits everywhere. Now, we have two data centers with almost identical setups in both. We are Active-Active, but we can easily swing workloads across to one data center, if need be, because it's the same underlying technology.

What is most valuable?

It's a common platform, which provides for ease of use between all of the blade servers. It uses all the same tech, moving service profiles seamlessly across from one blade to the next. There is also combined support.

What needs improvement?

There are too many management products: System Insight Manager, Oakum, etc. There are a lot of them and you have to know which one to use at which time. Whereas, with competitors, they have a single pane of glass view which has everything in it.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. We haven't had an outage in the last year that has been caused by anything related to the FlexPod. It has been 100 percent available.

The solution is resilient. It is easy to spin up another blade with the same service profile as the existing one, then within seconds you are up and running. This can also be done in combination with VMware SRM, Oracle Data Guard, or one of the other vendors' software solutions on top with little downtime. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seems scalable. It scales more than we need. I love that we will be able to scale out into the cloud and utilize that when we need it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We generally call directly to either NetApp or Cisco. Every time that we have called the support has been good, NetApp especially. We've found that they stick with a problem all the way through to the end (24/7) by switching their engineers, though the underlying problem maybe even isn't a NetApp component.

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

We had such a disparate collection of servers and vendors which didn't make sense since it meant having a lot of different support contracts. We had different servers, switches, and hardware coming out of support, and keeping track of that was quite difficult. We made the decision to move to consolidate data centers. In that decision, we decided to go with FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

We followed the validated design. Although on paper it looks quite complex, we followed the validated design and working closely with NEC, who has set up other data centers similar to ours. It was easy.

It has saved our engineers time. The initial setup to get the service profile set up took some time, but now each new blade that is put in is up and running in ten minutes. The previous service that we had would have taken about half a day to a day.

What about the implementation team?

We work with NEC, who was good.

What was our ROI?

Batch jobs which used to take two or three hours in the evening are now running in ten to fifteen minutes. This is a significant improvement.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at other vendors: IBM and Dell EMC. IBM was our existing vendor at the time, and we found their support was poor. We trialed Dell EMC and FlexPod was the better solution. We were pleased with the way FlexPod went in and worked.

What other advice do I have?

Trial it. See if you can get a demo to a trial system, then put some big workloads through it and see what performance you get.

I like the validate designs. I like the way they are put together and give you an easy building block to configure and set the system up. The one negative is the interoperability matrix. This could cover a more wide range of partners. For example, we have upgraded the whole firmware across the stack, and looking at the matrix, everything looked green. However, something in Oracle would cause us an issue during the upgrade, then we would have to either rollback or sit with support. While support has been good with getting to the bottom of things, it would be nice to have more confidence when we are going into an upgrade that it will work.

Today, it looks like the software design solutions will be able to support our move into the cloud much easier than I initially thought. We are only just starting that transformation now, but I see with Data ONTAP and Cloud Volumes ONTAP, it looks like we will be easily moving our data into the cloud and making better use of the compute that is up there rather than having to expand out in our data center. 

We have four or five weather events every year which cause a huge strain on our systems with customers logging in and working out whether they have power or not, or how long the power outages will last, and whilst that happens, our databases are getting absolutely hammered. Now, historically we've had to build our data center to be able to cope with those big workloads. It's only four or five days a year, so we are effectively wasting money when we don't need to. If we can burst out to the cloud, it would really help.

I think it is innovative with this move to the cloud using ONTAP. With the whole NetApp product range being very similar in its look and feel in the cloud as it is on-prem, I feel comfortable that our engineers will be able to spin up and utilize it quite quickly.

We don't use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
BP
Senior Storage Engineer at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It is scaling to our needs. Automation gets a little tricky for provisioning.

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. Each environment has knowledge of another in a FlexPod environment. This would be difficult to operate separately."
  • "It is scaling to our needs. We don't have any issues."
  • "Because when you try to do automation, there are many bits and pieces tied together. Sometimes, automation gets a little tricky for provisioning."
  • "We would like better management of cases. For example, if you open a FlexPod case, it's not always straightforward. It would be nice to have centralized resource to open FlexPod cases and ease up management of our cases."

What is our primary use case?

Our environment is completely virtualized. Therefore, we are using Cisco UCS and NetApp as back-end storage.

We're using FlexPod on Managed Private Cloud only today, and it's good. It's doing its job and we are happy so far.

How has it helped my organization?

We were a small company when we started, like a startup. We have been using this FlexPod since then, and now, we have grown to about mid-scale. However, FlexPod is still able to scale out the way we want, and we are happy with it.

What is most valuable?

It comes as a package. Since we are dependent on our virtualized environment, and FlexPod provides a small to mid-class environment, FlexPod is the better solution than going with a different product for each individual infrastructure stack.

The solution is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. Each environment has knowledge of another in a FlexPod environment. This would be difficult to operate separately. 

We are at the level where we want it to be on serving our applications, our storage, and whatever traffic we want.

What needs improvement?

The validate designs and overall versatility can be very complex. Because when you try to do automation, there are many bits and pieces tied together. Sometimes, automation gets a little tricky for provisioning. We would like simplicity in the automation.

We would also like better management of cases. For example, if you open a FlexPod case, it's not always straightforward. It would be nice to have centralized resource to open FlexPod cases and ease up management of our cases.

I would like more support on the next level transition to hybrid cloud.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been strong.

We have had some occasions where we had issues with the performance. We sometimes have had issues with the coordination between vendors, whether its Cisco and NetApp, and bringing them all together. Opening a FlexPod case is not straightforward. Other than that, the stability is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scaling to our needs. We don't have any issues.

Even though the automation is complex and it is stubborn, it scales to whatever the level that we want to performance-wise and availability-wise. 

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

We did not use a previous solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. We got all the requirements, then gave them to the consultants who came back telling us what is a requirement and what is a design. We discussed it, and this made the rollout pretty simple. Other than finding out what bits and pieces we needed, the instillation and execution administration was pretty straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant who was good. They helped us initially with all the FlexPod deployments.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

As a startup, for the amount of budget we have and the amount we spend, we are getting what we expected.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

FlexPod was the only vendor on our shortlist. We went with FlexPod based on our requirements. Also, we have a file-based, virtualized environment, so we thought NetApp would be the right choice for our file-based environment.

What other advice do I have?

I would say, "Definitely consult FlexPod."

I am saving time in my work and so are my colleagues.

I would like to go with the hybrid environment. My tech is built to accommodate any application, independent of the stack where you are, whether it is on on-premise, AWS, Google, or Azure. This way you have ease of moving the application in and back, providing flexibility. However, I would stick with the hybrid as the best way to start with public clouds because of security.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Alan-Crouch
Senior IT Manager at Vocera
Real User
It allowed us to scale out as our business grew without any issues

Pros and Cons

  • "It allowed us to scale out as our business grew without any issues."
  • "It takes all of the homework out of building the solution. The prearchitected design simplifies your deployment, gets you a quicker time to market, and a single point of support."
  • "I would like to see drag and drop connectivity to Azure and Amazon."
  • "The last two calls that I have made to NetApp support have been handled too casually. People are too lax, not quite as professional as I would have liked."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our internal cloud infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

I currently host 2500 VMs for our engineering group and a couple hundred production VMs for corporate. It allowed us to scale out as our business grew without any issues.

It takes all of the homework out of building the solution. The prearchitected design simplifies your deployment, gets you a quicker time to market, and a single point of support. If there is ever any type of issue, you call one number. Whether the issue is in networking, storage, or the hypervisor layer, you get rapid resolution to any problems that you might encounter.

What is most valuable?

  • Dynamic elasticity
  • Scalability
  • Reliability
  • Uptime

What needs improvement?

I would like to see drag and drop connectivity to Azure and Amazon.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is flawless.

The solution is resilient. It has been running for five years without a problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good. I wish it was a more cost-effective, but you get what you pay for.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support used to be excellent, but now, it is just okay. The last two calls that I have made to NetApp support have been handled too casually. People are too lax, not quite as professional as I would have liked. Basically saying, "I don't know, dude." When I call tech support, I want a professional

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

We had multiple siloed solutions with various hypervisors and storage platforms. These solutions couldn't scale, so I consolidated all of them into a single platform solution, which is more scalable.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. InterVision laid down the framework, then handed me an environment where I could go into a vSphere and deploy VMs from day one.

What about the implementation team?

We used InterVision, who is a VAR, for the deployment. They were excellent.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

We saved a few weeks of time for new service deployments.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is expensive. My company is small. When you look at the price point, this is a big thing for us to invest in.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated Dell EMC, HPE, and NetApp Cisco. I chose this solution because I knew it and there was no learning curve.

What other advice do I have?

It's reliable and scalable. I can sleep well at night and not have to get woken up at three in the morning because something went bump. The solution works. You can't go wrong with the platform.

The validate designs and overall versatility are excellent. The people who did them, they did a good job. They were very thorough. The whole entire environment was well thought out, so it could scale up or out. Every component was selected properly. All the configurations for the environment are detailed, so you don't have to do any homework. You just plug it in and run it.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, and it is excellent. I haven't had any problems with it at all since I've deployed it, and I have continued to scale it out. I don't see it going anywhere.

Hybrid cloud is where it is at, and I don't believe everybody can go into public cloud or multi-cloud entirely. I am looking forward to connecting hybrid cloud to my FlexPod environment.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
GP
Systems Engineer at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need

Pros and Cons

  • "It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need."
  • "The initial setup was complex. UCS is not the easiest thing to configure from the ground up. The networking pieces can get confusing, especially when you are talking about virtual segmentation. It is not as easy as other things now on the market, such as hyperconverged."
  • "I would like them to simplify the UCS configuration. I appreciate that they have about a billion options and a million switches that you can mess with, but this creates a lot of confusion sometimes. I feel like you almost need a Master's course to figure out what you're doing with UCS."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for everything: Running our virtual stack, all our research data, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

Moving from rack and stack servers (Dell EMC and HPE) to having an overall encompassing design with UCS, NetApp, and VMware, made us more resilient. We can lose nodes and drives and also stuff can go down, but there is no downtime. We can recover quickly. 

It makes disaster recovery (DR) easier as well, if you have a FlexPod set up in one place, then add a DR set.

What is most valuable?

It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need. As opposed to in the hyper-converged realm, you are sort of locked into a linear growth pattern.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to simplify the UCS configuration. I appreciate that they have about a billion options and a million switches that you can mess with, but this creates a lot of confusion sometimes. I feel like you almost need a Master's course to figure out what you're doing with UCS.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable.

The solution is resilient. We have suffered failures before without any downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are constantly scaling. I just added half a petabyte of storage not too long ago to the storage site. Adding new nodes and making new UCS clusters allows us to scale any way that we want.

How are customer service and technical support?

  • With NetApp, technical support has always been great. 
  • With Cisco, it depends. 
  • VMware is horrible. I hate calling them for anything.

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

We were running on legacy rack and stack; just single servers doing single things with server sprawl and multiple racks of servers. It's not a great way to do things. That's what drove us to FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. UCS is not the easiest thing to configure from the ground up. The networking pieces can get confusing, especially when you are talking about virtual segmentation. It is not as easy as other things now on the market, such as hyperconverged.

What was our ROI?

Coming from a rack and stack server model to FlexPod, it has saved us a lot of time (approximately hundreds to thousands of hours).

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at VxBlock from Dell EMC.

What other advice do I have?

If you need to scale, storage and commute independently, then you want to go FlexPod. If you don't have that sort of need and want something simple and easy to throw up and use, despite some of its shortcomings, hyper-converged is probably the way to go. It really depends on how big you are and what you need.

Versatility is great. However, in this day and age, it is probably more complex than it needs to be, especially on the Cisco side. I am not a huge Cisco lover. UCS is getting long in the tooth. It's great for what it is, but it is now overly complex compared to other solutions on the market.

FlexPod was at one point on the bleeding edge. Now, I think the bleeding edge is hyperconverged, and I know Cisco and NetApp are looking into that independently.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, which is great.

I don't love the Cloud. It is a good space for second copy backups and maybe bursting into the cloud depending on what your application workload is like. However, I'm not a lover of the hybrid cloud model, or even going fully into the cloud, unless you are willing to undertake the paradigm of creating your applications and workload for it. Moving your legacy info into the cloud is expensive and a bad move.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
SM
Storage Administrator at HDR
Real User
It is innovative because it integrates with different platforms

Pros and Cons

  • "Our footprint is lower than it used to be."
  • "The overall versatility and validate designs are great. We previously used a different platform, but we gained a lot of utilization with FlexPod."
  • "We would like to have more monitoring and reporting, because today some of the reporting, and if you purchase it separately is expensive. We use OnCommand Unified Manager today, which is great, but we are looking for more of that."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for its resilience and redundancy. Storage-wise, we use it for its deduplication. The primary use is to keep storage for 24-hours and have no issues.

How has it helped my organization?

Our footprint is lower than it used to be.

What is most valuable?

  • Replication
  • Deduplication
  • Inline dedupe
  • Scalability
  • Compression, which saves us a lot of data.

What needs improvement?

We would like to have more monitoring and reporting, because today some of the reporting, and if you purchase it separately is expensive. We use OnCommand Unified Manager today, which is great, but we are looking for more of that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable and resilient with no downtime. If I needed any storage or shelf tomorrow, I would just add it to our cluster and there would be no downtime. This is one of the best things about FlexPod.

For example, if we have to add more storage, there is no downtime. If we upgrade any firmware, we do it without any downtime. Also, with a test environment, we can be up and running in a couple of minutes.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can scale in a matter of hours.

How are customer service and technical support?

I am happy with FlexPod's tech support. If we need support on it, we go to one place and get everything that we need in one shot.

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

The overall versatility and validate designs are great. We previously used a different platform, but we gained a lot of utilization with FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. You just follow the steps. As long as you're not missing steps, especially as it is integrated with OnCommand System Manager or command line, the process is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We use a NetApp reseller, who has great technical experts if we have any issues.

What was our ROI?

We have saved time and money for new service deployments. Without FlexPod, it probably takes about ten hours. With FlexPod, within two hours, we are up and running. So, we have seen about an 80 percent time decrease.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are mostly a NetApp environment, so we did not consider another vendor. If there was an issue with NetApp, we would have left a long time ago.

What other advice do I have?

Try it. Nowadays, they will give you access online to check it out and see how it works.

It is innovative because it integrates with different platforms.

We have seen an 80 percent increase in application performance.

FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud gives us what we need. We don't have any issues with it.

We are planning to eventually go to the cloud. So, the multi-cloud capability being there in the future is exciting.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
IO
Subject Matter Expert at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Our data center rack space collapsed and our manpower decreased

Pros and Cons

  • "It scales easily. We went through an upgrade of adding additional chassis, and it wasn't a big deal."
  • "Our data center rack space collapsed and our manpower decreased."
  • "The ability to manage the templates across sites. We would like to easily take out the configuration of one FlexPod and copy it over, just making minor changes. There is a way to do it, but it's clumsy."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for generalized workloads in a hypervisor situation, either VMM or Hyper-V. It is used for any particular workloads that the government has for this purpose. It is sometimes used for dedicated hardware as well, so it provides the flexibility as we need it. We can also grow because we can easily expand it from its initial chassis.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives you a lot to work with. The problem with this is then you don't know what you want to do anymore. By making it very versatile, it also gives you too many choices.

Depending on how we deploy, we are seeing application performance improvements as we have plenty of horsepower in the solution. However, at the moment, we have development issues, not performance issues.

What is most valuable?

The ability to have the configurations for it: The blades, the service profiles, and making a standard for it. This makes it easy for the other members on our team when setting things up, because there is already a template for them to use.

I like that everything is integrated, and we can change the port to whatever we need, e.g., Fibre Channel. It is very nice to work with, as it gives the ability to have more choices: Do we want to have more Fibre Channels, iSCSI, or some type of MetroClusters? We can do all this with if we have bandwidth.

What needs improvement?

The ability to manage the templates across sites. We would like to easily take out the configuration of one FlexPod and copy it over, just making minor changes. There is a way to do it, but it's clumsy.

There is a bit of a learning curve for a new person in understanding FlexPod and going through each of section of making a template for SAN, hardware, networking, etc. The flow isn't very good. The software should be more geared to a top-flow design versus a bottom-up.

I would also like them to improve some integration on the HCI part.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. I find it's almost mainframe grade.

We had issues where we had some of the aisle modules failed. Even though its half the system, it was still up and no one actually knew why it was down. It was down for a few days before we could get it fixed. However, it didn't affect anybody else and that includes our major environment. This was at one of our bigger sites and nothing happened.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales easily. We went through an upgrade of adding additional chassis, and it wasn't a big deal.

How is customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. I don't think we have had a call that lasted longer than a couple days, and it was only for one issue where something didn't work properly. It wasn't exactly a hardware problem, but it wasn't a software problem. It was just one of those strange anomalies.

How was the initial setup?

The upgrade was straightforward. There wasn't anything special involved. What we found out is that since no one is using templates properly that we could have done things even faster if we had used the templates. Since then, we use them all across all the sites.

What was our ROI?

We have seen our data center rack space collapse about 90 percent. We have a data center which only has two racks now out of the 20 that were there previously.

We have also reduced our manpower with the solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We may consider another solution for the HCI. We have not decided yet.

What other advice do I have?

Know what your use case will be for and figure out whether you are going on-premise or want a hybrid solution. This will change what you need. If you are going to do some hybrid stuff, you may need to decide to create your own software to make the hybrid connection or you can use HCI. This may change the things you want to buy.

We are trying to decide if we want to go to a private, hybrid or multi-cloud environment. We don't have any services to deploy VMs yet on the cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
WB
Manager of IT Services at a comms service provider
Real User
It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems.

Pros and Cons

  • "We have had great support, and this is when we have called for any problems, which have been very minimal to start with."
  • "It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems."
  • "There were several different management consoles that we had to deal with: UCS, VMware, and separate ESXi installations. Maybe one interface council where we could manage everything from might be a little easier."

What is our primary use case?

Primary use case is for a telecommunications company. We have used it for housing virtual servers for an internal corporate network, as well as for a service provider network.

How has it helped my organization?

We installed two FlexPods in two different geographical diverse locations to give full redundancy. This housed all of our virtual servers. It made everything easier to have in one place.

What is most valuable?

Support was the main feature for us. Having everything in one as far as combining NetApp and Cisco devices, yet also having one place where we could call and actually get support from very knowledgeable people.

What needs improvement?

There were several different management consoles that we had to deal with: UCS, VMware, and separate ESXi installations. Maybe one interface console where we could manage everything from might be a little easier.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. We actually started with only two blades in one system and four blades in the other, and we had capabilities for eight blades. Thus, it has allowed us to be very scalable throughout the entire life of the product as we owned it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had great support, and this is when we have called for any problems, which have been very minimal to start with. 

The only time that we had to use support is when we installed the system. Part of the system from the UCS was damaged in shipping, which was no fault of the FlexPod, but we went through support to have it replaced. It was no problem at all.

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

We came from physical servers installed on old operating systems. We had around 20 to 30 physical servers. Not only did FlexPod reduce the power requirements in the data centers that we were running, but it also decreased repair, decreased support, and allowed us to have everything in one system as opposed to all these individual different branded devices that we previous had functioning.

We originally switched to FlexPod because everything was going to virtualization. We started doing some investigation and research into why, and found out that it was an overall better solution. In the long run, it ended up saving you money, putting everything together into one solution, and allowing you to utilize all your resources for multiple machines. Therefore, if you needed a new server, you did not have to go out and buy a physical server, you just spun up a new virtual machine, and you're done.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We had a company come in and help us set everything up. After they turned it over to us, it was very straightforward and easy to use, as much as you can expect from a system that large.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We purchased FlexPod though Datalink. Be sure you use a known company to be sure you get the correct licensing and products for your specific needs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

For FlexPod, the whole package itself, including the support and the different vendors who worked together is great (even though it costs more than the other solution we were looking at). There are other things in there that you have to consider, such as the support, devices, how long it has been out on the market, and how well it lasts. 

We went to other telecommunication providers and asked what they have and how well they were satisfied with it. We found some providers who were using FlexPod and some who were using other products. The ones who were using the FlexPod seemed to be a lot more satisfied with their product overall.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, as an entire package, it has everything that we need and support is very helpful when needed. It is still installed and working today problem free.

Look at your needs and what you are looking to do. See what fits your needs better. There is not one solution or company that will be a fit all.

The most important criteria when selecting a vendor: We look at everything as a whole package. As far as support, how long its been out on the market and what they offer. Support is probably the biggest, but for whatever product that we buy from a vendor, it needs to be solidified for a while and tested out on the market, aka tried-and-true.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
BM
Network Engineer III at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand.

Pros and Cons

  • "It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand."
  • "We would like to have a single pane of glass available for it. It is something that the management in the business would like to have."

What is our primary use case?

It's used for managing our virtual workload exclusively. It manages our virtual servers and our internal business systems are run on it.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud. It functions.

How has it helped my organization?

It simplifies that you don't have to manage all the additional hardware. It simplifies support, as it is all in one area. You don't have to worry about individual pieces of hardware going end-of-life at different times.

What is most valuable?

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Stability 

The ease in the event that there is hardware failure and having it be stateless. We can swap components out without incurring any significant downtime. 

What needs improvement?

We would like to have a single pane of glass available for it. It is something that the management in the business would like to have.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. I can't think of any significant downtime that we've incurred with it.

Unfortunately, we are limited on upgrades. They don't really let us do them. However, upgrades have been stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is simple. It allows you to continue to grow out, compute, or store as necessary.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have never used FlexPod's technical support.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the refresh, and it was relatively straightforward. We had an existing UCS infrastructure that we were replacing, which was being moved over to a secondary sight where it was a new UCS stand up.

What about the implementation team?

At the time of installation, we used Varo. However, they no longer exist. 

What other advice do I have?

Go for it.

It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand.

We don't have a true FlexPod.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TT
Virtualization Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the easiest solutions to implement, maintain, and scale."
  • "Simplicity and integration with NetApp are its most valuable features."
  • "We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere."
  • "They should have an easier user interface to get it up and running."

What is our primary use case?

It in our primary data centers and almost on all of our sites. Therefore, we use both FlexPod and FlexPod Express.

How has it helped my organization?

We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere. 

What is most valuable?

Simplicity and integration with NetApp are its most valuable features.

What needs improvement?

They already have some products or interfaces that leverage APIs, like Cisco UCS Director, and this is a good starting point. However, I would like to have something for smaller organizations where they could just plugin configurations, and everything is done for them.

They should have an easier user interface to get it up and running.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never had any issues, so tech support is good.

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

We brought our IT in-house and needed a solution to host it on, and FlexPod was the solution that we decided on. That was for a smaller subset of the company. 

The larger parent company used what the contracting IT provided at the time. When we released that contract, we moved to have all in-house employees and an in-house IT. We also decided to use FlexPod because we had seen the value with the smaller companies. It has scaled out well.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward because I was working with an experienced partner. I have more than six years of experience, so when I work with a partner that has experience, it makes it easier.

What about the implementation team?

In the United States, we use IRONBRICK. Internationally, EMEA and Asia PAC, we use Computacenter. Our experience with both of them so far has been good.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated HPE, Cisco, and NetApp for storage. We chose NetApp because of its storage efficiencies and integration.

What other advice do I have?

The FlexPod solution is one of the easiest solutions to implement, maintain, and scale.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jason Batt
Senior Data Storage Administrator at Denver Health
Real User
Validated Design, stability, and collaborative support have made this a success story for us

What is our primary use case?

We have been using FlexPod for five years. We use it for our Epic environment.

How has it helped my organization?

We get a unified, collaborative support model. It conforms with the CVD and it helps us with maintaining supportability. All of our vendors give us the support that we need in a timely and effective manner.

It has also been very versatile. We have others that do not exactly conform with it and yet we still benefit from the collaborative support model. And we're not required to go to a certain thing if it doesn't work well or isn't the best case for our situation. That's been wonderful.

We're using the Epic environment on-demand workflow, and that has saved us quite literally thousands of man-hours by helping us refresh, back up, and create new instances. We wouldn't have been able to do so if it wasn't for all of that time-saving. Being able to have SUP, REL, and REL VAL DR instances, we would need to double our staff, at least, to be able to do that.

What is most valuable?

  • The design has already been validated.
  • The support element, the lack of finger-pointing, where all of the different vendors are working together collaboratively, sharing data, opening tickets with one another.
  • We already use UCS and it goes well with the vendors that we have picked.

What needs improvement?

At the beginning, there was a little bit of confusion among the support folks on how to open up tickets with the others. There needs to be a little more helping of the partners to make sure that they are able to handle opening tickets with the other vendors.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For our Epic environment, aside from an environmental data center problem, a heating issue, we have not had any issues whatsoever with the infrastructure. From a resilience perspective, we've set it and we've been able to forget it for the most part.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We planned a five-year model for our Epic environment, so that we haven't really needed to scale. For other areas of our environment, it has scaled fairly well. The data mobility helps a lot with that, if we have to do a refresh. It's just simply vol moves, etc.

One thing to note would be that we're now looking to go into a MetroCluster IP with our FlexPod. Going from Fabric to IP, we're not able to do that with vol move. Still, we can do SnapMirror relationships and get all that data moved over.

The one other thing would be that in the transition from 7-Mode to CDOT there was no unplanned downtime, and it went very well with all the tools that NetApp has provided us.

How are customer service and technical support?

Just fantastic tech support. The chat functionality gets us in touch with top-level engineers when we need it. As a hospital, that level of support is priceless.

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

We had been using Dell EMC storage before, VPLEX, etc. We had a good bit of experience with that. 

How was the initial setup?

Because our VAR helped us with a lot of it, from our perspective it was very simple.

What about the implementation team?

Initially, for our Epic environment, we used OST. Our VAR, PEAK Resources, also specializes in converged infrastructure. It went fairly well. It was a little bit rocky at the start, but that's why we picked our VAR. Their experience and the level of investment that they make in NetApp are fantastic. They helped us a lot.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Dell EMC VCE very seriously, as it's a converged product. NetApp was a lot more flexible, it didn't require a forklift approach. We had a really great experience with NetApp specifically. We were already using Cisco, for both network as well as compute, and it just seemed like just a great play, to have that flexibility and to have the support model to help us. And it has proven to be great.

What other advice do I have?

If a colleague was looking at this or similar solutions, I would help them to understand what we've done with it for Epic and the success that we've had. I would share with them the examples of converged support as well as the stability that we've had. They are what has really made this a success story.

Regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, I love it. The idea of the state of Fabric. We haven't been able to leverage the public cloud portion of it yet, but the whole vision of the data movement is where we want to stay, so that we're ready for the cloud where we can do that. As for private, we're looking to bring up StorageGRID to be able to offload cold blocks on our AFF. That kind of a feature set is wonderful. We don't use FlexPod for managed private cloud.

In terms of FlexPod being innovative when it comes to compute, storage and networking, it stays current. We're not five versions back because we're having to be conformed with other solutions. It seems like NetApp is doing a great job of making sure all their vendors are keeping things up to date. There have been some other than Day One-types of events that it's impossible to really get to. We're not waiting long for things to come up.

As for improvement in application performance, we started with an All Flash Epic so we've had really wonderful sub-millisecond latencies from the get-go. We haven't experienced degraded performance.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
CR
Lead of the Server and Storage Team at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
With LUN clones we have a template for our hypervisor image - we can deploy a new hypervisor in under an hour

Pros and Cons

  • "We save days of work when doing new service deployments. With LUN clones we have a template provisioned for the image of our hypervisor on our NetApps, and we can deploy a brand new hypervisor in under an hour. Everything is scripted. We just clone a template LUN and boot from SAN, so there are no single points of failure."
  • "The most valuable features are the CVDs and the support behind it from both companies."
  • "One of the things that I've wanted would be availability of a health status, similar to Active IQ from my converged platform, on an app. I have dashboards so I can see the health of the system when I'm in the office, but when I'm not in the office I can't."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our entire virtualization stack, and one of the big driving factors for us was the support between Cisco and NetApp.

How has it helped my organization?

We don't have to worry about support or the resiliency of the solution. Our previous converged platform was Dell EMC. There were single points of failure that were designed into the system, not the implementation, that we couldn't overcome. The only solution was buying more hardware and scaling it out, which was not the best solution or necessarily affordable.

Also, we save days of work when doing new service deployments. With LUN clones we have a template provisioned for the image of our hypervisor on our NetApp, and we can deploy a brand new hypervisor in under an hour. Everything is scripted. We just clone a template LUN and boot from SAN, so there are no single points of failure. There is no spinning disk left in the data center.

Finally, we have easily seen a 100 percent improvement in application performance over our previous platform. It's been night and day, to the point where one of our two identically-configured data centers was refreshed to the UCS before the other, and we started to see a shift in where teams were deploying things. The workload actually became unbalanced because everyone was favoring the newer hardware - they were noticing that it was that much faster. But that also gave us the buy-in from the executive level to proceed with refreshing the other site.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the CVDs, and the support behind it from both companies.

What needs improvement?

One of the things that I've wanted would be availability of a health status, similar to Active IQ from my converged platform, on an app. I have dashboards so I can see the health of the system when I'm in the office, but when I'm not in the office I can't.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of resiliency, we've tested the failover by pulling direct cables between Fabric Interconnects, IOM modules, our Switch Fabric, we've rebooted things in the middle of the day and we've never had an outage.

It's very stable. I've only had to engage FlexPod support one time for a driver issue. It was resolved on the same day.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had to scale the product. We set up one of our data centers with a single chassis and we've since grown into three chassis, all with no downtime.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you open a ticket, you get a response from NetApp and Cisco on the same page, on the same team. Their support has been great. You actually get a follow-up a day later: "Is everything still good?" That's great.

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

In our past converged platforms, we didn't have vendor support that would work together. That's actually what led us to abandon our Dell EMC solution in favor of FlexPod.

Also, there were engineering oversights with our previous Dell EMC solution. There is a single point of failure in the midplane which we had to replace, to the point where we actually replaced an entire chassis. It required a full outage to replace the chassis. On the other hand, there are multiple midplanes in every UCS 5208 chassis and a scale out into more chassis. And those chassis are a lot cheaper and more affordable than the Dell EMC solution. So there is no single point of failure in the system anymore.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was more complex for us because we were using Hyper-V. We had to blend a few CVDs, but with the expertise that they had, there weren't any issues.

What about the implementation team?

We had Professional Services from one of our partners. Our experience with them was great. They had Cisco Certified Engineers to assist with everything.

What was our ROI?

I don't have any data about ROI, but I know we were able to collapse some of our compute workload for virtualization and reduce our licensing count for SQL Server. That saves a lot of money every year, just with denser blades that were available in the UCS platform.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at the Dell EMC PowerEdge FX converged platform, VRTX. At the time, we were a major Dell EMC consumer. Since our switch to the UCS, we haven't bought a single Dell EMC product.

We went with FlexPod because the engineering was better, but support was the major factor: Cisco support and NetApp support. And they support the product even after end-of-sale. Dell EMC has a max term they will support a product: for compute it's seven years. So we had a situation where we could buy the exact same, older technology product just to get more support. We would have been buying old tech just to continue being supported.

What other advice do I have?

Take your time. It's no small undertaking to implement a converged platform or to shift to a different one. Typically, when you make the decision on a converged platform, you're making that decision for the next five to seven years. So take your time.

Regarding the Validated Designs, I've set up VersaStacks as well as FlexPods and it's just like a recipe book or a cookbook. You follow the steps and it's pretty difficult to mess it up. The Validated Designs are great. They're a great reference guide to go back to if you're troubleshooting an issue later on as well. 

In terms of private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, it's great to see because we have a large presence in Azure already. But it's native Azure. There was no tooling to tie it to our data center. Until now. So shifting things to the cloud volumes from Azure Blob Storage inserts a common framework, we can replicate data between the data centers and the cloud. It's great. 

As for managing private cloud, we use FlexPod for own internal hosting of our customers' data, so we ourselves operator our own private cloud.

It's also innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking. You can use any number of Nexus lines, MDS. I've done setups with MDS 5000s. I've worked on systems from version 1 all the way to current, so I've seen quite a few iterations of it.

I would rate FlexPod at eight out of ten overall. It's definitely a very complex system. We're definitely not making changes in it daily. There is a little bit of a learning curve for a junior admin.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
IM
IT Engineer at CenturyLink, Inc.
Real User
Provides an engineered solution we can use for smaller, medium, or large projects

What is our primary use case?

FlexPod can be used for all types of workloads. At my company we are using FlexPod for the SAP HANA product.

How has it helped my organization?

The application that is running on the FlexPod that we are working with runs better on FlexPod because of the technology itself. It saves on time to do backups and restores, protection, and of course deployment and roll out.

In addition, the support that you can get from all three vendors - VMware, Cisco, and NetApp - with one call, is a value-add.

We have also seen a large percentage improvement in the performance of some applications. We can back up and restore within minutes, whereas before, when the program was running on a different platform, that would take eight to 12 hours.

What is most valuable?

FlexPod comes as an engineered solution. We can use it for smaller, medium, or large solutions and we can scale it as we need. That's the reason that it's very useful.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I find it very resilient. I would trust FlexPod to the point that I would put a lot of different things on it.

It is stable as long as you do your due diligence. With all the updates and upgrades, there is always a chance of something going wrong. However, the built-in resiliency annuls those risks to some degree.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling it was not difficult. The scale of the FlexPod for a company I worked with before was about eight nodes.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you get the right numbers and give the right information you can get to the right support. Otherwise, it's a nightmare. Once you get to the right people, it's perfect.

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

What made us switch was the fact that we had limitation challenges with the old product. Everything was a little bit different every time. FlexPod helped us solve the problem so that we are deploying something that is the same all the time.

How was the initial setup?

I did not really notice anything complex or anything you couldn't figure out for yourself or by picking up a phone or looking up the documents. They were able to produce the system within 24 hours from the time the boxes arrived at the data center.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator. That experience was not as good as it could have been. There is room for improvement the second or the third time around.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It was either FlexPod or build our own "FlexPod" ourselves. With FlexPod, and the automation, everything is the same all the time.

What other advice do I have?

Using FlexPod as one product, understand that you are putting yourself in the hands of three of the major technology leaders. You are not only getting a product, an appliance, but you are gaining experience. All these things work together to help you decide for today and tomorrow.

If you want something really fast to deploy, you are going to use a Validated Design; everybody's compliance and all that is taken care of. But you can make a FlexPod-like build and you can later go certify it as a FlexPod design.

Regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, every solution is here to answer a problem. So the question is: What are the challenges? Based on those you can then use the proper solution. NetApp people usually tell us that the hybrid vision is the best, and I tend to agree with them.

In terms of the solution being innovative for compute, it's very useful for the storage engineer. If there is a problem with the host, he can replace the base hardware and put the intelligence right back in the same box. In that way, every type has been kitted out, without anyone having to rebuild anything from scratch.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
MM
Enterprise Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Cisco Validated Designs and streamlining of support were decisive for us

Pros and Cons

  • "The Cisco Validated Designs are the most valuable feature along with the Industry-leading technology, put together; and the fact that it just works."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it more to deploy a supportive solution so that a customer can go to one business support number and then have FlexPod for the whole infrastructure.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The streamlining of support has been an improvement for us.

    Also, we have found the solution to be innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking because each piece is still modular at the end of the day, and if we have to upgrade one area we don't have to upgrade the whole thing.

    Finally, we have seen about a 20 percent improvement in application performance. The increase is coming over the legacy hardware we were running before.

    What is most valuable?

    • The Cisco Validated Designs
    • Industry-leading technology, put together 
    • It just works

    Also, it's very versatile. We haven't run into any issues with it where we couldn't do something because of it. We have been very happy with it.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's resilient. We haven't had any issues with it whatsoever and we've had it for four years. It's very stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have had to scale it and it's very easy. You just swap the component that you need to scale. For the storage you just add on a shelf; for the compute you just add another node and you're good to go.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support is very good. We had to open a ticket one time but it was very quick to get it resolved.

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

    We were using a mismatch of different things like Cisco switches, NAT storage, and HPE servers. The reason we switched was the validated, one-vendor support for everything. It's one of those things you set up and you just forget it. It just works.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was very straightforward, as long as you follow the documentation. It is a well-architected solution so I didn't really run into issues. I set it up and it works.

    What about the implementation team?

    I just did it myself.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The cost is a little high.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We considered HPE.

    What other advice do I have?

    You won't regret it in the end, if you invest in FlexPod.

    My thoughts on the solution regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environment are that I definitely think hybrid is the future, having a flexible infrastructure. That's where I like the FlexPod, it's more like hyperconverged. It has more layers of flexibility for moving workloads up to and back from the cloud. We currently don't use FlexPod for managed private cloud.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    JS
    Systems Administrator at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up

    What is our primary use case?

    We have everything on our FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up. Therefore, if you can manage the set up in one place, then you can manage the whole infrastructure.

    What is most valuable?

    The ease of use The ease of administration It is easy to manage.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see synchronous replication and easier automation in the next release.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    More than five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I love the stability. It is stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I love the scalability. It is scalable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support…

    What is our primary use case?

    We have everything on our FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up. Therefore, if you can manage the set up in one place, then you can manage the whole infrastructure.

    What is most valuable?

    • The ease of use
    • The ease of administration
    • It is easy to manage.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see synchronous replication and easier automation in the next release.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    More than five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I love the stability. It is stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I love the scalability. It is scalable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support is slightly above average. I would like them to have quicker escalation.

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

    We were previously using Dell EMC and HPE servers. I prefer NetApp over Dell EMC.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was straightforward.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used World Wide Technology and DataBank for the deployment.

    What was our ROI?

    We have seen ROI.

    What other advice do I have?

    It is a good proof of concept.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Brian Foulks
    System Engineer at Missile Defense Agency
    Real User
    I live by the Validated Designs, and the resiliency means we have zero downtime

    Pros and Cons

    • "I live by the Validated Designs. I do exactly what those designs say and I haven't had a problem as a result. For example, they used to do the FCoE. They figured out there was a problem and they went over to the NFS. I moved over and I agreed with them. It worked better."
    • "I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it to implement our core data center and server environment.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Due to the way the equipment is all together, with its resiliency, typically we have zero downtime. We run simulations for the military, and the lack of downtime is highly important, given the amount of money we run into it. We don't have to worry about downtime.

    Having the capability to seamlessly move from different equipment, that's the way to go.

    We have found FlexPod to be innovative, when it comes to compute, storage and networking because of the fact that NetApp and Cisco work so closely in streamlining, specifically with Validated Designs. The networking is there. I don't have a problem with transferring from physical to the virtual environment. It allows us to have that seamless storage. We lose hard drives and we don't even know about it because it's so good. The tools provided with the FlexPod allow us to be more efficient with the smaller team that we run.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature of FlexPod is all the vendors' synyergy together. I just have to log in and start working with it. Everything is there, and with the failover I don't even have to worry about the systems too much.

    In addition, I live by the Validated Designs. I do exactly what those designs say and I haven't had a problem as a result. For example, they used to do the FCoE. They figured out there was a problem and they went over to the NFS. I moved over and I agreed with them. It worked better.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Three to five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is very resilient, to the point that sometimes we didn't even know it went down, because we don't actually look at our log at times. We find components that were down but it just moves and takes care of itself.

    The solution is very stable. Typically, if something goes down, it's a fan or a hard drive. We haven't had any major issues and we've been running FlexPods now for about four years.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The only thing we have scaled are the blades within the UCS. The fact that they allow us to use the same chassis and just swap out the blades, that part was interesting for us. Same idea with the NetApp equipment in the FlexPod. We don't have to worry about the shelves. We can replace just the drives and go higher up on that side. It allows us to scale without doing a full-bore rack replacement.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Because of my environment, we have dedicated teams. We get instantaneous support. So it's not fair for me to answer this question.

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

    We had a mixture of workstations, some rack servers, some floor servers. We knew that wasn't working. We were being pushed to try to virtualize what we could. That's what drove us to it. The fact that we were able to clean up all that, got rid of racks of equipment, it was just the way to go.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was straightforward. We sat down with Cisco and NetApp, as well as World Wide, and said, "This is what we want to see." And they built the FlexPod based upon our requirements. After that initial work, everything came in quite easily.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used a reseller, World Wide Technology. I love them.

    What was our ROI?

    I haven't had to put in a request for new rack space. Our footprint is down to two racks that run our entire core. We run multimillion-dollar exercises through it. But it's hard to quantify ROI because we had nothing previously. We weren't keeping track. And then we went to this system. I just know that in the last four years, other than buying some minor upgrades, we haven't spent any money.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    There were no other options. I've been with Cisco since 1995.

    What other advice do I have?

    Go with the FlexPod. It's a very easy solution. There are dedicated minds behind it. You will notice an improvement.

    We save time and money with the solution but I don't know how to quantify them because we only have a few physical servers. Everything has been built into it so we haven't had to buy things. So we're not aware of what it would have cost us, by not going with it, because we went all-in on the FlexPod design. Similarly, regarding application performance improvements, I can't say because we went straight into the system.

    Regarding thoughts on the solution vis-a-vis private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, unfortunately, we can't move into a cloud other than private. We're starting to investigate how to do it. I don't know how much of a player it's going to be for us, due to our environment. If we deploy it out, it will be used for private cloud, but we don't do so currently.

    Realistically, I would rate it a nine out of ten. There's always room for improvement. 

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Tariq Ejaz
    Systems Manager at Marcum Technology
    Real User
    Streamlines deployment - I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes

    Pros and Cons

    • "The most valuable feature is ease of deployment. Once I deploy the chassis and I have the back-end storage, configuring more UCS servers is very quick. I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes."
    • "I would like to see them reduce the complexity, that would be my number one request because. Right now, doing simple things is pretty complex. You have so many options. It might be better if it were more wizard-driven, as opposed to going through five hundred dials. It's not very easy or intuitive."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is virtualization. Most of our virtualized environment runs on FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Once you set up the underlying infrastructure, it's very quick to add more capacity or add more compute or networking.

    We have also definitely saved time for new service deployments, on the order of many weeks - two months, three months.

    What is most valuable?

    Ease of deployment. Once I deploy the chassis and I have the back-end storage, configuring more UCS servers is very quick. I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see them reduce the complexity, that would be my number one request. Right now, doing simple things is pretty complex. You have so many options. It might be better if it was more wizard-driven, as opposed to going through five hundred dials. It's not very easy or intuitive.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Three to five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's stable. We haven't had any issues. We have it deployed for multiple customers and they have all been very stable.

    We have found the solution to be resilient. We test it. Before we turned over the product to the customer we did a lot of testing. No single point of failure. VMware, UCS, NetApp, we pulled cables, we did failovers, everything was seamless. Very good.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have a customer that has five chassis and it scales very well. It is very easy to scale up and wide.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I haven't had any issues, I've called Cisco, NetApp, VMware. It's been pretty good.

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

    We switched to FlexPod because of cost. The cost of our previous solution was too high. I couldn't scale out as easily as I wanted to.

    How was the initial setup?

    Setup is complex. They don't follow the norms. You expect certain things to be a certain way but once you start deploying you go, "Ah-ha." I found three or four "ah-ha" moments or "gotchas." It wasn't very straightforward. I had to do some digging to find out the right way to deploy it.

    What was our ROI?

    I'm not the one who would capture ROI figures, but I'm sure we have seen ROI.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    Nutanix, SimpliVity, and Vblock. We went with FlexPod because I think NetApp is a better product for the back-end storage. The other two are the same.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would suggest doing a mini FlexPod PoC. That is probably the best way to kick the tires and find out what the product is all about.

    I have seen an improvement in application performance but I can't attribute that to the UCS or the FlexPod environment because I'm running on an SSD. It doesn't matter if it's FlexPod or not, it'll still run fast.

    I haven't really dealt with validated designs. I go to Cisco and grab the product line from there and just deploy according to that. I don't really deviate too much from the already-architected solutions.

    In terms of private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, right now we're only doing private. Private is pretty much doing business as usual, nothing different about it. I haven't really looked into how we can take it to the cloud yet. We don't use FlexPod to manage private cloud.

    As for the solution being innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking, when UCS came on first, that technology was innovative. I haven't seen much innovation from them recently.

    I rate FlexPod at eight out of ten. They still have some room for improvement. As I said, the complexity is still pretty high. If they can get a handle on the complexity part I would give it a nine or ten.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    John Barrow
    Chief Technologist at Datalink, a division of Insight
    Video Review
    MSP
    The ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform, then scale horizontally and vertically

    Pros and Cons

    • "The ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform, then scale horizontally and vertically."

      What is most valuable?

      We had a lot of disparate technologies which were spread around to different sites. It was the ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform that we could then scale horizontally and vertically.

      What needs improvement?

      I do not have a lot to comment on here.

      The next evolution of what we are doing is going to be disaster recovery and business continuity between the US and Canada. In six months, I could give you a different answer.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is stable. With the partnership that we have with NetApp, and also to a certain extent with VMware, whenever we have a problem, they have been super responsive. From the SnapMirror technology to the NSX platform that sits on top of FlexPod, they have been almost as good, if not better, than the integrator that we originally worked with.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Scale for us was really important. We were taking multiple data centers across the US and Canada and consolidating them into two regional data centers. We did not want all of the out-of-pocket expenses upfront. We knew with the FlexPod that we could scale out as we consumed more of those smaller data centers.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The time to be able to answer our call to the time to get to a technician who understands what we are telling them, and even though they may not be able to help us resolve the problem, they are knowledgeable enough to tell us what to do to prepare to talk with a Tier 2 or 3 type person. Then, from there, there is the ownership to the resolution, then the followup by our account executive.

      How was the initial setup?

      We were early adopters, and there was some complexity involved. That is why a good integrator partner is important. We are a little bit ahead of the curve, and the market has matured since then. 

      After the first FlexPod, the second and third got easier and easier for us to deploy. We are now self-sustaining in the configuration portion of managing it, and also in the ongoing operations.

      What was our ROI?

      We are in the process of finalizing our ROI. 

      We looked at VxRail, FlexPod, and going to different managed service providers, including going to AWS directly. The FlexPod gave us a quicker time to get up and running. The actual cost and negotiation was on par, if not better, than the other things that we were looking at. The labor to operate it is about 30 percent less than we anticipated.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would have to rate it a nine, because 10 would be nirvana, where I would just press Next> Next> Next, then it is done. I know life is not that easy, but maybe someday it will be. As far as the technology that I am looking for, it is still at least two or three points above the next competitor.

      Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: My relationship with NetApp goes back about six or seven years, maybe longer. My account executive was on point to make sure that what we were buying would not just sit on the shelf, and what we were buying was actually being used relevant to best practices. He came in on a quarterly basis with a scorecard and report card that would say, "Are we on point? Are we doing the right things that we should be doing? Are we paying attention to the right things?" That brought up a different sense and perception of what I think an account executive should be. The technical engineer who is supporting them as well facilitated a very successful relationship between NetApp and us. It became a very strategic relationship, almost like a partnership. I value that, and I never relied much on technical support because they were always on point before I needed to make a call outside to them.

      Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
      DZ
      Service Delivery Architect at Premiercomm
      Video Review
      Consultant
      It is a complete, holistic solution which is easily scalable

      Pros and Cons

      • "It is the overall collaboration between NetApp and Cisco to come up with a product that is best in class and best in breed. You are bringing together the best things about UCS and NetApp, as well as you are tying it together with the Nexus fabric."
      • "The continued simplification will be a continued battle and evolution for both Cisco and NetApp, especially on the FlexPod product."

      What is most valuable?

      It is the overall collaboration between NetApp and Cisco to come up with a product that is best in class and best in breed. You are bringing together the best things about UCS and NetApp, as well as you are tying it together with the Nexus fabric. It makes a complete, holistic solution which is easily scalable. It can scale up to the largest size that you could possibly need, as well as scale down to smaller sizes for small business customers.

      What needs improvement?

      The evolution and the simplicity of IT seem to be this culture shift that we have had in IT over the last few years: the simplification. Many people are out there carrying multiple things on their shoulders. They are basically an engineer wearing a bunch of hats. The continued simplification will be a continued battle and evolution for both Cisco and NetApp, especially on the FlexPod product.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I worked for many years on the customer side. We ran NetApp for as long as I can remember. 

      NetApp is incredibly highly available, very redundant, and very resilient. If I am going to put any workload on any storage platform out there, I am putting it on NetApp. Then, with the bandwidth and throughput that you get with Cisco UCS and the Nexus switching platform, it is really unparalleled and cannot be matched.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It scales out and up, so you can go both directions depending on what the needs are on the NetApp side. On the UCS side, it scales out beautifully. Everything ties back to the fabric interconnects, and you can scale up to 20 chassis, so a ridiculous amount of compute power for any sized workload.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The collaborative tech support model that NetApp and Cisco have together is what sets them apart when you look at other solutions out there. There are so many times where customers and partners who are trying to support their customers have to call around, then you are in a back and forth battle between vendors. This does not happen in the FlexPod solution because of the collaborative support model between Cisco and NetApp, as well as VMware and some of the other partners. They can pass information back and forth to ensure the customer is getting the best experience possible, and that is what makes it shine.

      How was the initial setup?

      From a setup perspective, I come at it from two different angles. 

      1. As a customer, I was involved very early on in some of those stages. At that point in time, it looked complex to me, especially earlier on in my career. 
      2. Now, I have quite a few years of industry experience under my belt and working with both of these products. I would not say it is overly complex. Both NetApp and Cisco have gone to great lengths to simplify the process and IT, as a whole. There is a continued evolution of it, and you are going to continue to see the product get better.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would rate it in the upper echelon of an eight or nine. I like the FlexPod product. Primarily going back to the NetApp resiliency, there is no workload that I would not put on the NetApp platform, whether it is the All Flash FAS, the spinning hybrid disk, etc. NetApp is paramount when it comes to high availability and resiliency. Then, on the UCS side, you are taking the leader in networking, bandwidth, and throughput, and basically building that backbone for compute infrastructure. 

      The bandwidth and throughout that you get from it and the changes which we saw in my customer days going from the HPC 7000 series chassis, where we were constantly constrained for throughput and bandwidth. We were seeing 60 to 70 megabit throughput on huge ISO files, and you dump it over into UCS (same NetApp storage on the back-end), and you are seeing 200 to 400 megabits of throughput. 

      It is just unparalleled. So, it is definitely the leader out there.

      Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
      DevinChappell
      Solution Architect at Charter telecom
      Video Review
      Real User
      Having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged

      Pros and Cons

      • "FlexPods allow us to go through and roll out compute, having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged."
      • "I would like to see more CVDs and more published designs around a multi-hypervisor approach within a single pod."

      What is most valuable?

      FlexPod allows us to go through and roll out compute, having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged.

      What needs improvement?

      There needs to be a discussion around the management plane of things. The driving message has been tied altogether with UCS Director. 

      UCS Director is a great product. It is relatively affordable for what it delivers. However, for a lot of the upper/mid-level market, it is probably a little bit of overkill in terms of the day-to-day administration, and even the initial configuration to get it up and running. If there was more of a condensed version, like offering managed services on top of it, that is how we get around it for some of our more simple-minded customers. If there was some sort of middle of the road approach to management, it would probably be an improvement.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      We have not had many issues from an architecture and design perspective. Gear always has quirks from time to time. It has been very reliable and stable for us, and it deploys for customers.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It scales very easily. We are able to go through and add individual components as needed, whether its storage computer networking without being locked into a particular sizing matrix, so it grows and shrinks as needed with relative ease.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The tech support is world-class. We have never had any major issues or complaints. The response times are generally very good. 

      How was the initial setup?

      There is a lot to do, but the process is very well-documented. The nature of the infrastructure allows us to basically go through and work with a series of templates that we can stamp out very quickly. For the vast majority of the deployments that we do for customers, I have an information gathering sheet that I email them a couple weeks before deployment, and just from the information that we collect, we can get the configuration 98 percent of the way done.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would rate it about an eight out of 10. We have been very happy with the product. It has been very successful for us. We have a lot of customers who are thrilled with what we have done. As a VAR, it is easy for us to go through, manage, and maintain. That sort of middle of the road management piece would be a big part of it, and I would like to see more CVDs and more published designs around a multi-hypervisor approach within a single pod. This would be an improvement.

      Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: We work as a VAR and MSP. The most important thing for us is the trust relationship with a vendor. Support and reliability are important, and not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but for the most part, every major vendor has support and reliability now. However, the relationship, being able to go through and build with a vendor, then the trust that you establish with a vendor for us is the most critical thing.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Kent Christiansen
      Practice Director at Datalink
      Video Review
      Reseller
      It has taken the risk out of our customers' businesses, because there is less for them to try to figure out

      Pros and Cons

      • "Our customers get their applications to market more quickly, and it has taken the risk out of their business, because there is less for them to try to figure out."

        How has it helped my organization?

        We have sold to more than 500 clients on FlexPod. It becomes an architecture, so in some cases, they understand the architecture. Then, they say, "Okay, I have another data center, and they can go and recreate it." We have had clients who have bought dozens. Others, we give them the assurance that the application is going to run. Therefore, there are a tremendous amount of attributes to it.

        What is most valuable?

        FlexPod is an architecture that a lot of our major customers are running with their most mission critical stuff. The big value proposition is it has been well thought out and well put together. So, it is getting them to get their applications to market more quickly, and it has taken the risk out of their business, because there is less for them to try to figure out.

        What needs improvement?

        It is always improving. We went from the first FlexPods, then to All Flash. We are actually sitting here with Cisco at Cisco Live talking about some of the new features in UCS that are coming out and be integrated. So, there is exciting stuff that we probably can't even talk about. Better ways to make it simpler to operate. If it is easy for you to set up, it doesn't matter if the customer doesn't have to do it, and they are enabling us to provide those seamless services, cloud-like services and cloud-like experiences. A lot of stuff is still happening, even though it is an eight year-old product.

        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

        It has been in the market for probably eight years now. This might seem old for technology, but it is continually improving in simplicity, performance, and reliability. It is absolutely stable. It is very well tested. There are probably 100 CVDs, so this shows you how much testing they do. We do additional testing, management, and monitoring. Because it is an integrated system, it is a lot easier to monitor, manage, and operate.

        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

        FlexPod is primarily built to scale up with your most important applications, but you can scale it out to some degree. There are a lot of different architectures: cloud, hyperconverged, etc., which have different attributes to them. However, when you have your most mission critical stuff and you need it to scale up providing consistent performance, that is really what it was built for.

        How is customer service and technical support?

        We put a layer over support. We support the entire FlexPod environment plus applications,  cloud, etc., which is something that you will see with us in delivery. 

        NetApp and Cisco have been working together very closely. If we run into a problem where we need support from NetApp or Cisco to support our client, it goes very quickly because they are working together in labs: designing, managing, and supporting these environments.

        How was the initial setup?

        The FlexPod initial setup is straightforward if you know what you are doing in the data centers. There are simpler things. For FlexPod, you still need IT staff to set it up (that is what we do). We help build it out for the client. It is not a one button thing, and there are some things like that. It is more of an enterprise architecture. It is absolutely straightforward for us to set it up, certify it, and validate it, but there is a lot more to getting applications on it and tying them into the operations.

        What was our ROI?

        There are a lot of different ways to measure it, but the ROI is compared to the old way. The old way was quite frankly trying to figure out plumbing:

        • What do I do with networking?
        • What do I do with storage?
        • What do I do with compute?
        • How do I make it work together?
        • How do I test it?

        There are a lot of papers on ROI (8:1, 10:1, and so on). It is pretty easy to understand that I am not doing all this busy work, plumbing, etc. It is coming to me pretty much as an integrated system, and I am delivering an application. There are a lot of different ways to measure it, from business outcomes to what it costs me to do it.

        What other advice do I have?

        It is a 10 out of 10 for us. We will go in and talk to a client about all things that they are trying to do, from cloud on. A significant percentage come to the conclusion that they want to run their most important stuff on FlexPod architecture.

        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: At first, businesses did not select a vendor. They thought, "Why wouldn't I just buy all this stuff myself and figure it out." 

        Initially, five to six years ago, a lot of companies were organized differently. They had a networking team, a server team, and a storage team, which didn't even agree. We had to help them understand the value of coming together. As people start going in and start thinking, "Okay, I need service-like delivery. I need to compete with cloud, if I'm going to deliver an application in my company. How are other people are doing it?"

        So, they had to start figuring out how to consolidate. FlexPod is a converged infrastructure, and they had to use it. There are a few companies that are still a little disorganized, but most of them, even large companies, have come back and said, "I get it, this is why I need to do this."

        Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
        Craig Mcdonnell
        Director of Integration Services at Charter Communications, Inc.
        Video Review
        Consultant
        FlexPod means I will have reliability, flexibility, and scalability

        Pros and Cons

        • "The documentation alone that NetApp provides can guide anybody through the setup process."
        • "I would like to see more interoperability within FlexPods. This comes into more of how we grow from multiple domains to a massive domain."

        How has it helped my organization?

        It has been enabling as a data for our service platform. 

        FlexPods have been able to grow, build, and change how they looks at data analytics by setting up the system and enabling them to grow as they need. We can add them to additional NetApp domains allowing them to scale quite large and collect as much information on their data plane as they need.

        What is most valuable?

        FlexPod means I will have reliability, flexibility, and scalability. The three main variables that I rely upon to deliver whatever I need to my clients.

        What needs improvement?

        I would like to see more interoperability within FlexPods. This comes into more of how we grow from multiple domains to a massive domain. That would be fun to see in the future.

        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

        It is extremely stable. That is the reason that I love the platform. The platform allows us to leave during the day, and at night the system continues to run. We come back the next day and it gives us the flexibility of adding more users. We have about more than 20 high-end clients and almost 5000 virtual machines on ten domains which means ten FlexPods. Because of that, we are able to provide our clients with a completely stable, versatile platform.

        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

        We use it both in the field and in the lab. In the lab, scalability means that my clients (which are all internal users) are building software, writing code, and building up new applications that we provide for them. We have around 26 million subscribers for Charter. Within the platform, we are able to leverage and give those individuals tenants the necessary tools to grow and build what they need to build to provide services to our external clients.

        How is customer service and technical support?

        Support is supreme, everything from documentation to having people who will jump in and support our systems. When we were tied to the automatic provisioning system on command, it allowed us to tell when a device had gone bad. We get drives sent to us automatically, then we replace those drives, and we continue to service our client. Zero downtime, that is what we love: a lights out type operations.

        How was the initial setup?

        At first, it seems a little complex. As you get going, you realize it is quite straightforward. The documentation alone that NetApp provides can guide anybody through the process. You can hire external vendors to assist you with it, but if you have some knowledgeable people, and they read the documentation, in a few short days, you will be up and operational.

        What was our ROI?

        I have seen what I would consider ROI by my clients' value stream. When we first started out, we were using a lot of disparate systems. We went ahead and departmentalized on this particular product, which enabled us to start to see value in our clients, who said, "I am operational now. I am running. I have the system up with little downtime." 

        We had our system running for 18 months, and we had other systems which were crashing on a regular basis. We started having customers transfer from those systems to ours. So, at first, the customers were running their own systems, then they jumped on ours.

        We manage more than 20 large clients. Those may include groups of several hundred people for each one of those clients. So, it is 20 clients, but our development group is around 300 people, our voice group is over 100 people, etc.

        What other advice do I have?

        I rate it as a 10 out of 10. I always have. I feel it is something special and unique. Not only do you get the best with the Cisco platform compute, but then I get NetApp for my storage, and it just works. It is reliable, and it has given me every aspect of what I am looking for to provide to my clients. My team of experts, as they come in and work on it, know that at the end of the day, they get to leave and go home to be with their families. It does not give them problems, and it is consistent beyond compare.

        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

        • We look for who the client is or who the vendor is.
        • What kind of reputation they have.
        • How they are perceived in the market.
        • How they treat us, and if they treat us like a partner. 

        NetApp's a partner to us. There are a lot of vendors out there who come in and want to sell you something and leave. NetApp is here for the long haul. They are here to provide service,  engage, and make sure that we are part of their community. I find when I have an issue that I can call on my sales rep and my technical rep, and also just reach out directly to NetApp for the support. They are going to be there for me, no matter what time of day or night, whatever is going on. Very rarely do I need it because they are so proactive in everything they do for us.

        Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
        SC
        System Analyst at ONEOK, Inc.
        Video Review
        Real User
        Our Cisco solution interoperates with it very easily

        Pros and Cons

        • "DR has been tremendously easier."

          What is most valuable?

          The consolidation of our data center. It helps us migrate. It makes DR easier for us. Our Cisco solution interoperates with it very easily. It makes visibility into those different environments easy for the virtualization guys, the Window admins, and telecom as a whole. Holistically, it is a lot better.

          What needs improvement?

          This question doesn't really pertain to me.

          I know the virtualization guys love the FlexPod, and we do too. It is the visibility into it is nice, and it interacts with our Cisco data center well.

          What do I think about the stability of the solution?

          It is stable. We are migrating our whole data center onto the FlexPod. We have vetted out all of the issues that we could be running with the resiliency and redundancy. So, it is our solution moving forward.

          What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

          It scales very well. We use this for all of our DR. We just spin it up at our DR location.

          How is customer service and technical support?

          I do not have a lot of interaction with them. We have assisted their tech resources, bringing up cores and running cable runs. They seemed sufficient.

          How was the initial setup?

          This is a little bit out of my environment. They give us what they need on-premise from a telecom's perspective. Then, our virtualization teams and the NetApp teams go in and deploy it. I can't speak on the granular issues.

          What was our ROI?

          We are pushing big towards the ACI infrastructure within our data center. Rack space is another, then integrate the storage solutions into that. As a company, we have seen return on investment. Therefore, I think the product is going to work out.

          What other advice do I have?

          I rate it as a nine and a half out of 10, because of all the additional visibility and the integration with our equipment, and how well it plays. DR has been tremendously easier.

          The most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It is a little of everything. Support is key because no network is the same. No protocols running across it are the same. You are going to run into weird issues, and talking to our virtualization guys, they are really happy with support. I see NetApp all the time on our campus.

          Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
          CJ
          Technical Operations Manager at Dyncorp
          Video Review
          Real User
          We can deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite

          Pros and Cons

          • "FlexPod gives us the opportunity to deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite, so we can do all the configuration remotely."

            What is most valuable?

            The value in FlexPod is that we have to deploy a virtual suite to 280 locations around the world. FlexPod gives us the opportunity to deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite, so we can do all the configuration remotely. 

            What needs improvement?

            It is hard to think of any additional features. It has everything that we need to reach it in some of the worst circumstances given the limitations on the size of the rack and the stack. The product is very well done.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is very stable. We deploy to a lot of countries where they have unstable infrastructure and we have had very few issues with the stack.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It scales very well. If we need to add additional virtual host server capacity, we can throw in another C220 server or additional storage with a NetApp shelf. It is fantastic for that. Our sites range from quite small to up to 3000 users.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            The technical support is very good. Being unified under one single point of contact for all products in the stack is very good. We found that our time to open/close incidences is much better than when we were doing it on individual components with individual vendors.

            What was our ROI?

            We have absolutely seen ROI. We have saved between two to four million dollars on travel alone over the past 24 months. We have deployed this to 75 percent of the sites where we will be deploying it. We have a little over 200 units installed. The travel savings alone has been huge for the organization.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would give it a nine out of 10, simply because it has helped us change the way we do business: From being a receive, integrate, box up, ship out, unbox, and rerack. It has been fantastic and changed our business model.   

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It is all of it. 

            • Support
            • Reliability
            • Flexibility to adapt on the fly when we need to modify and install, then support certain circumstances.
            • Meet the needs which were not outlined in the original project.

            FlexPod has been fantastic.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            David_Harrison
            Snr Technical Solutions Architect at World Wide Technology
            Video Review
            MSP
            The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale up and scale out

            Pros and Cons

            • "The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale-up and scale-out."
            • "Large and small companies do not have time to design the compute, the amount of storage, and how it works together. They are buying pre-proven, pretested solutions with reference architectures already in place."
            • "FlexPods can include the new networking and new virtualization of storage and data center interconnectivity with the networking side of it. They can evolve and grow by connecting pods together."

            How has it helped my organization?

            A lot of companies do not want to put the time into designing, then figuring how much compute with storage and networking. With FlexPod, companies can buy solutions that have been pre-tested. They know it will work. They are companies out there backing and supporting it, like ours, with worldwide technologies who can support and make it part of their solution.

            What is most valuable?

            The combination of compute and storage networking is pretty complicated to accomplish. The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale-up and scale-out. You can buy this solution, and it is going to work, because it is a proven solution.

            What needs improvement?

            Anything can be improved. As ACI grows and storage grows (and changes), this is how FlexPods can evolve. They can include the new networking and new virtualization of storage and data center interconnectivity with the networking side of it. FlexPods can evolve and grow by connecting pods together.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is stable because it has been tested. That is one of the reasons that companies use FlexPod. I can combine compute, storage, and networking, but I would have to test it to make sure it is configured and labelled correctly. They are buying a pre-proven solution, and that is one of the big plays for FlexPod quite frankly.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It can scale up and scale out, which is a big advantage.

            How are customer service and technical support?

            I have dealt with them quite a few times. I would put them up there with Cisco tech. They are easy to get a hold of, easy to understand, and as partner, easy to work with.

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

            For a lot of customers, when they are setting up data centers or adding onto their data center, it gives them a way to buy a prepackaged solution. A lot of FlexPods that I have sold, they are building a new data center, or adding on. It is an easy purchase or add-on, because they know it will work, and they know it will be scalable and reliable.

            How was the initial setup?

            Setup is easy. They have already preconfigured things. Things are prelabeled, have colors, and they plugin. That is one of the reasons that you buy FlexPod, because of the ease, proven reliability and performance. 

            What was our ROI?

            Large and small companies do not have time to design the compute, the amount of storage, and how it works together. They are buying pre-proven, pretested solutions with reference architectures already in place. So, a lot of FlexPods you can buy with reference architectures and how to install them on top of it solutions.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it as a nine out of 10, because every product has room for advancement.

            • It is a mature solution.
            • It has been pretested.
            • There is reference architectures for it.
            • It is easy to use.
            • It uses the best compute.
            • It uses the best storage.
            • It uses the best networking, which all works together in a proven solution. 
            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Taran Nasseth
            Data Center Engineer at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
            Video Review
            Real User
            The setup was fairly simple. I picked it up quickly. It was an easy deployment.

            Pros and Cons

            • "It is easy to deploy, works well, the reps are good, and the support is great."
            • "When you open the box, they give you a very nice diagram. Which was my initial guide through setting up any NetApp SAN. It worked itself out pretty well."
            • "It is not as easy as a hyperconverged solution, but you are going to have a hard time finding that anywhere, where you can just plugin and run a deployment app."

            What is most valuable?

            The setup was fairly simple. It was one of the first ones that I had done. I picked it up quickly. Overall, it was an easy deployment.

            What needs improvement?

            It does a really good job of what it is marketed to do. It is not as easy as a hyperconverged solution, but you are going to have a hard time finding that anywhere, where you can just plugin and run a deployment app. I do not know if they could make it work with a deployment app, but it was easy enough already, so no improvement is necessary. 

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            The only time that we have taken it down was when I have personally messed it up. That was all on me, and I can't fault NetApp at all.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            We just added a new SAN onto our old one to scale it up and add new functionality.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            We had an issue not too long ago, which ended up being my fault, but they figured it out pretty quick. We were able to determine before Memorial Day weekend, thankfully, that it was my fault, and not a product instability nor a problem with the new code. We called in because it was a pretty severe issue. We had a 20 minute outage because of it, and the issue did not resolve itself when I backed up my latest change. Therefore, we did not think it was my fault. However, everything just took awhile to come back up. So, we called support, who became engaged. It was pretty quick to resolve. 

            How was the initial setup?

            When you open the box, they give you a very nice diagram. Which was my initial guide through setting up any NetApp SAN. It worked itself out pretty well. I knew a decent bit of the network side as well, so I might have had an unfair advantage. I connected everything up like in the diagram and went through the documentation online, then had most of the SAN set up by the time that we had engaged with our engineer to actually set up the SAN.

            So, the initial setup was pretty straightforward.

            What other advice do I have?

            I really can't fault them. I can't give them a 10 out of 10, because that seems over-the-top. It is not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good product. I would give it an eight out of 10, because it is easy to deploy, works well, the reps are good, and the support is great.

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: The product works. Our vendor team is great. I love our account manager and our tech guy is great. It is a confident feeling.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            Evan Wheatley
            Solution Architect at Charter
            Video Review
            Real User
            With the validated designs and the support behind it, it's a great product

            Pros and Cons

            • "The consistent delivery that we receive from the products. We deliver it to different customers, and we know it will be a consistent end-to-end solution as well."
            • "According to the product managers, there are some new products coming which will address some of our concerns around portability and compliance."

            What is most valuable?

            The consistent delivery that we receive from the products. We deliver it to different customers, and we know it will be a consistent end-to-end solution as well. So, this helps us from a delivery side of things.

            What needs improvement?

            According to the product managers, there are some new products coming which will address some of our concerns around portability and compliance.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            With the design guides that we go through, it has obviously been vetted and validated. It is very stable in our eyes.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            Generally, our deployments are on the smaller side. We have been able to leverage the FlexPod express side for smaller deployments. I haven't hit any larger scale ones, but from everything that I have read, it would scale relevantly.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            With the support side, we deal directly with Cisco, not directly with NetApp. We do have support from all of the vendors, even if it is or isn't a FlexPod solution. The support that we get from NetApp is second to none.

            How was the initial setup?

            I wouldn't say it is more complex. It is different, because there are a lot more components than if you were just going to buy a traditional compute only or storage only solution. So, there is an added complexity given the size of the deployment and the number of components. However, it is not difficult from a deployment perspective by any stretch. If you were deploying those components individually, it would be the same amount of effort.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it close to a nine or 10, because of what the product looks like, the validated designs which are out there, and the support behind it. It's a great product. That is why we sell it.

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

            A combination of everything from best of breed, support, and if other customers who have used it have had good experiences with it.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            RA
            Director of Infrastructure Operations at ONEOK, Inc.
            Video Review
            Real User
            It's an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain

            Pros and Cons

            • "For our DR, we rely heavily on SnapMirror technologies to accomplish our disaster recovery in VMware SRM."
            • "It is an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain."
            • "On the UCS side, sometimes it is difficult to set up."
            • "We have had bugs which have been released, even though they have been minor."

            How has it helped my organization?

            As far as improvement, I don't know of anything immediate other than the performance with the All Flash. For our disaster recovery (DR), we rely heavily on SnapMirror technologies to accomplish our disaster recovery in VMware SRM. The most immediate benefit is definitely the performance.

            What is most valuable?

            When it started out, we did not purchase it as a FlexPod. It sort of organically grew into a FlexPod: UCS, VMware, and Cisco for the network. 

            The storage is reliable in its performance.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            The only downtime that we have had has been our fault with misconfiguration issues.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It does scale. It scales very well.

            How are customer service and technical support?

            I have to admit that I don't call them directly, but everyone on my team has nothing but good things to say about them.

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

            It was organic. We were running IBM storage. We knew we wanted to run a different storage, so we looked at NetApp, which was a good fit. We had run it in the past. So, we decided to go with NetApp. We were already switching from HPE to Cisco UCS for our compute side, and we already had a Cisco network. With the VMware added onto it, we started talking to NetApp and they told us that we could certify it as a FlexPod. So, we just organically grew into the FlexPod product.

            How was the initial setup?

            From all of the feedback that I have received, it is an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain.

            What was our ROI?

            None that we have measured. We do not measure any of our equipment or our data center, as far as ROI.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it as a nine out of 10, because I rarely rate anything as a perfect. It does have issues. We have had bugs which have been released, even though they have been minor. As far as the configuration (going back to configuration issues), on the UCS side, sometimes it is difficult to set up. However, once you get it set up, it is easy to add additional compute to it.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            Drew Breece
            System Analyst at ONEOK, Inc.
            Video Review
            Real User
            We can call one number for support, and everyone works together

            Pros and Cons

            • "The assurance and the peace of mind that we get from knowing if we had an issue with either the NetApp equipment, Cisco equipment, or our VMware enviroment, we can call one number for support, then everyone works together and nobody is pointing fingers all over the place."
            • "Setting up a Cisco USC environment can be complex."

            How has it helped my organization?

            It has not improved my organization, because the products work so well on their own. We have not had any issues with it. Knock on wood.

            It just works fine.

            What is most valuable?

            The assurance and the peace of mind that we get from knowing if we had an issue with either the NetApp equipment, Cisco equipment, or our VMware enviroment, we can call one number for support, then everyone works together and nobody is pointing fingers all over the place.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is very consistent. We have had other systems that we have had to replace. Other vendors who we are migrating away from, or have already done so.

            However, we are fully onboard with NetApp at this point. We love the company and their products with their ease of use and support.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            We have several NetApp systems and we know that if we run low on space that we can add a shelf. We just recently did a head swap on some older systems, and it went fine. There were not any big issues.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            NetApp's tech support is top-notch. We have a good relationship with our local guy. If he does not know the answer right away, he reaches out to somebody in the larger office and we receive answer very quickly. We are very happy with support.

            How was the initial setup?

            Depends on who you are talking to whether the initial setup is straightforward or complex. Setting up a NetApp is one thing, setting up a Cisco UCS environment is another thing. We did not buy it as a FlexPod. We bought all the ingredients individually, then registered it as a FlexPod because it is licensed as such. 

            We had subject-matter experts doing their roles. In the end, they realized it was a FlexPod and it should be registered as one. 

            What was our ROI?

            As far as ease of management, we do not have to hire more people to administer it or cross-train someone who is not necessarily an expert in one thing or another. If they do not know it and the primary person is out, then we can just call, someone will answer and help us out.

            ROI is not a question or concern.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would give it an eight or nine out of 10. I am not going to give anybody a 10, because you cannot achieve it. We are very happy with NetApp and Cisco, and our FlexPod solution.

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: Cisco and NetApp are best of breed. We just fell into this from years of using other products and vendors. 

            At some point, you learn along the way that this company over here does a good job and I have heard good things, and this other company also does a good job. Then, these two companies find each other and you get a great solution.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            Troy Brick Margelofsky
            Solutions Architect Team Lead at CDW
            Real User
            The most valuable thing for me is the shorter time to market

            Pros and Cons

            • "It is extremely stable and well-supported because of the leadership and partnerships put in place."
            • "The most valuable thing for me is the shorter time to market."
            • "Both NetApp and Cisco need to do improvements in their day-to-day operations management upgrades."
            • "A piece where FlexPod has come up short in the past and an area for them to improve upon: single pane of glass management and single pane of glass upgrade process."

            How has it helped my organization?

            It takes the time to market, then shrinks and shortens it.

            What is most valuable?

            The most valuable thing for me as a partner, as well as our customers, is the shorter time to market. 

            In addition, the most important pieces are:

            • The partnership between NetApp and Cisco.
            • The engineering effort and time.
            • The resources that they put into writing the CBDs.
            • Doing all the lab validations.
            • Having this product supported as a converged infrastructure.

            What needs improvement?

            Both NetApp and Cisco need to do improvements in their day-to-day operations management upgrades, and they are working on it. 

            A piece where FlexPod has come up short in the past and an area for them to improve upon: single pane of glass management and single pane of glass upgrade process. It gets a tricky, because there are two different companies and two different partnerships. You do not buy it as a single product; you buy it all at once, and deploy it. 

            For how long have I used the solution?

            More than five years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is extremely reliable. The length of time of this whole program has been reduced, greatly. FlexPod is very innovative on a month-to-month basis, but it is also extremely stable and well-supported because of the leadership and partnerships put in place.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It does scale well. I do not want to infinite scalability, but it is no different than a traditional data center. Silos, network, and storage, and compute; it is all of those same components. It is just prevalidated and predesigned. 

            I used an analogy the other day. Someone learning how to cook and someone else figured out the entire recipe for you, you just have to cook it. When you go to scale, you can scale whichever pieces of the infrastructure that you need, either collectively, or you can leave it.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Because of the length of time that FlexPod has been around, it has been proven. The support center, Level 1 all the way through to the specialists, understand how the program works. NetApp's support understands the partnership with Cisco, VMware, and Microsoft, and the entirety of the system. 

            At this time, they have become very good at understanding limits. They can have a management and/or partner issue during the deployment and still maintain the ticket. Our customers love it.

            How was the initial setup?

            It is very straightforward. 

            If we had never done it before, someone else has been the design guide, someone else has been the deployment guide, and it is step-by-step. If you have never deployed NetApp or Cisco before, you can follow these guides. If you have, they are just an augmentation of what you already know, and just a bunch of best practices, so you can get it up and running in a much quicker fashion.

            What other advice do I have?

            It has a lot of big partner resources, which are consistently behind it, such as thousands of engineering hours and new CBDs coming out every year. It has both proven infrastructure which has been running for the eight-plus years, as well as being innovative. Every time Cisco comes out with a new Blade, Fabric Interconnects, or new switches, or NetApp comes out with new arrays, they are being integrated into the product that year as well as being integrated into the rest of the data conference suite. From that perspective, you are not really inventing anything; you are taking proven things and implementing them in a particularly efficient manner.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Ali Tadir
            Managing Partner at Nextgen
            Real User
            It simplifies the management of the entire system

            How has it helped my organization?

            It is the first phase of the hyperconverged systems. 

            What is most valuable?

            It simplifies the management of the entire system. 

            What needs improvement?

            Some of the define features could use improvement.  It needs more power.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            We could not tell with the infrastructure entirely. We had some performance issues, but as soon as we opened the FlexPod, the technical support fixed them.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It is scalable. If you want to scale up merely with capacity, it is easy.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Regarding technical support, if you have any questions with the new configuration, just open a ticket to tech support and they…

            How has it helped my organization?

            It is the first phase of the hyperconverged systems. 

            What is most valuable?

            It simplifies the management of the entire system. 

            What needs improvement?

            • Some of the define features could use improvement. 
            • It needs more power.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            We could not tell with the infrastructure entirely. We had some performance issues, but as soon as we opened the FlexPod, the technical support fixed them.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It is scalable. If you want to scale up merely with capacity, it is easy.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Regarding technical support, if you have any questions with the new configuration, just open a ticket to tech support and they will fix everything.

            How was the initial setup?

            The initial setup was straightforward. 

            What about the implementation team?

            I was also in the installation phase, which was easy.

            What other advice do I have?

            It is a complete solution.

            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
            Technica3f50
            Technical Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
            MSP
            Enables integration of different products into one validated design, but updates could be smoother

            Pros and Cons

            • "The most valuable feature is the ability to integrate different products into one validated design. That allows customers to understand and get the value out of the hardware, as it was designed."
            • "I would like to see better operations, a single pane of glass to manage and monitor the entire design across VMware, Cisco, etc. I would also like the upgrade process to be a little smoother."

            What is our primary use case?

            The primary use case is for customers that want to replicate infrastructure over and over again and have a consistent architecture for their workloads. It's appropriate for larger enterprises that want the pod design in their data centers.

            What is most valuable?

            The most valuable feature is the ability to integrate different products into one validated design. That allows customers to understand and get the value out of the hardware, as it was designed.

            What needs improvement?

            I would like to see better operations, a single pane of glass to manage and monitor the entire design across VMware, Cisco, etc. I would also like the upgrade process to be a little smoother.

            For how long have I used the solution?

            Three to five years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            From my experience, it is a consistently stable, reliable product.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            The benefit of it being a pod is you have a lot of flexibility in terms of the hardware and platforms that you choose to have in that validated design, depending on your particular needs.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            I personally haven't experienced the tech support from NetApp, but I have heard good things about it from customers.

            How was the initial setup?

            I think the setup is straightforward, with the designs that I've seen in terms of the physical topology. "This link needs to go to this link. You've got to configure it in this way." The validated designs do a good job in terms of the layer 1 and all of the configuration.

            What other advice do I have?

            I rate FlexPod a seven out of 10. The reason behind that is, there is a lot of value in FlexPod, and FlexPod is incorporating a lot of the newer technologies, like ACI, into the design, rather than just keeping it an xOS, as an example.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Jan Willem Varossieau
            Consultant Technical at Vosko
            Consultant
            Presents a new architecture that is both scalable and programmable

            What is our primary use case?

            We are a NetApp partner. I, myself, am doing ACI and data center stuff. We have been active for a year and have several customers running on FlexPod SF functionality. We don't do native NetApp stuff, only FlexPod SF. We are mostly looking at healthcare, and we also in the banking world. We have one customer to whom we sold this as a storage product.

            What is most valuable?

            It's a new architecture, really scalable and programmable. When you look at SDN propositions it fits very well in a next-gen data center.

            What needs improvement?

            I can't really say anything about improvements right now because we are relatively new to this product. It is implemented for the functionality and it delivers the functionality. Right now, it does everything we want. …

            What is our primary use case?

            We are a NetApp partner. I, myself, am doing ACI and data center stuff. We have been active for a year and have several customers running on FlexPod SF functionality. We don't do native NetApp stuff, only FlexPod SF.

            We are mostly looking at healthcare, and we also in the banking world. We have one customer to whom we sold this as a storage product.

            What is most valuable?

            It's a new architecture, really scalable and programmable. When you look at SDN propositions it fits very well in a next-gen data center.

            What needs improvement?

            I can't really say anything about improvements right now because we are relatively new to this product. It is implemented for the functionality and it delivers the functionality. Right now, it does everything we want.

            For how long have I used the solution?

            One to three years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It's a really good, stable product. It has good resilience.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            You can scale it. You can add more boxes and you can have more IOPS available if you want. It's very easy to add new hardware to the cluster.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            I'm not directly involved in support cases right now so I can't say what the support is like from my own experience, but what I have heard from my colleagues is that the support is good.

            How was the initial setup?

            The setup is really straightforward. What I heard was you plug it in, you bring it up, and it's easy to install.

            What other advice do I have?

            It's good, it's a very nice product. Very scalable.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            CJ
            Technical Operations Manager at Dyncorp
            Real User
            Number one in reliability with excellent convergence

            Pros and Cons

            • "The vendor delivers a fully-configured prebuilt system with a certain baseline on it."
            • "Integrated support: It is all under one support contract."

              What is our primary use case?

              The vendor delivers a fully-configured prebuilt system with a certain baseline on it. We can ship it to five continents. They can roll them into place, plug in two power cords and six network cables, and we are off to the races.

              Remotely, we have installed 230 systems globally (no domestic) in the past 22 months.

              How has it helped my organization?

              The product is pretty good for our environment. It is overkill for our environment. In places that we are putting these, it could serve 2000 to 3000 users and it has to serve 50 users for us. It is a sledgehammer system approach, in that we are putting systems which are not necessarily rightsized, but they are redundant because they are going to places which are fairly isolated.

              What is most valuable?

              • Integrated support: It is all under one support contract. 
              • The convergence is excellent. 
              • It is number one in reliability.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              It is a stable solution. The downtime that we experience are typically related to power or facility issues in countries which have less than stable power, or it may be related to WAN outages in places that do not have solid telecom services.

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              It is scalable. We could throw another host server or shelf in there. We have Nexus switches at the top of the stack. If the hardware survives, the product will probably last us ten years.

              How is customer service and technical support?

              Generally, tech support has been really good. Where we have issues, the vendor steps in and assists. It has been very good.

              How was the initial setup?

              The initial setup is very straightforward.

              What other advice do I have?

              Cisco NetApp products are a pretty die-hard.

              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
              OS
              Enterprise Solution Architect at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees
              Real User
              The product is robust, stable, and has flexibility

              Pros and Cons

              • "The product is robust, stable, and has flexibility."
              • "I would rate technical support as a 10 out of 10. They are good and responsive."
              • "For the next release, because I know that we are using Pure Storage, what I want to see is the GUI interfaces on this UCS monitor."

              What is our primary use case?

              It is for video solutions. It saves us a lot of money in our environment. My job is to make sure that the government saves money. 

              The use case for us is that many users are able to use this when they travel out of the country. With computers right now, all you need to do is log into the website to access the resources, then you can use them in your flexible solution.

              How has it helped my organization?

              Right now, we are trying to deploy on multiple laptops. Using a VDI, which is part of FlexPod solutions, we are able to do this. You can use it on cellphone, iPad, etc.

              What is most valuable?

              The flexibility: I used to do the video blog solutions. It is very easy, because with NetApp, a lot of people use NetApp. There is more flexibility to configure with Cisco laser switches.

              What needs improvement?

              For the next release, because I know that we are using Pure Storage, what I want to see is the GUI interfaces on this UCS monitor.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              The product is robust, stable, and has flexibility. 

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              It is very scalable.

              How are customer service and technical support?

              I would rate technical support as a 10 out of 10. They are good and responsive.

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

              At my previous job, I used to use Vblock, Dell 7000 series (from Dell EMC, Cisco, and BMC).

              How was the initial setup?

              It was pretty straightforward. I was the main engineer during the initial setup.

              What other advice do I have?

              • Read the white paper solution online about the product. 
              • Engage with the engineers.

              Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: Relationship is the key, so they respond better. We may need an onsite engineer to come and do an evaluation for us. 

              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
              FD
              Senior Network Engineer at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
              Real User
              It makes us more lateral and faster to production

              What is our primary use case?

              Our use case is for a life sciences cloud offering.

              How has it helped my organization?

              It makes us more lateral and faster to production.

              What is most valuable?

              Quick deployment.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              I have not really heard any complaints from our storage engineers.

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              It is pretty flexible. We are able to deploy faster.

              How are customer service and technical support?

              I have not personally used support. 

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

              We were using a different solution between Hitachi and other NetApp solutions.  We switched to FlexPod for its flexibility and quicker deployment. Also, we use other NetApp products.

              How

              What is our primary use case?

              Our use case is for a life sciences cloud offering.

              How has it helped my organization?

              It makes us more lateral and faster to production.

              What is most valuable?

              Quick deployment.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              I have not really heard any complaints from our storage engineers.

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              It is pretty flexible. We are able to deploy faster.

              How are customer service and technical support?

              I have not personally used support. 

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

              We were using a different solution between Hitachi and other NetApp solutions. 

              We switched to FlexPod for its flexibility and quicker deployment. Also, we use other NetApp products.

              How was the initial setup?

              I was involved in the networking side of the initial setup. It was pretty straightforward.

              What about the implementation team?

              We did the installation with a core internal team. We had some NetApp help for the storage guys, but for the network portion, it was more self-explanatory.

              What other advice do I have?

              Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: flexibility and licensing costs.

              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
              JP
              Information Systems Manager at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
              Real User
              Simplifies support, accelerates troubleshooting for our integrated solution

              Pros and Cons

              • "Provides unified support: Being able to get a vendor from one company or another company on the line without having to go back through the call queue."

                What is our primary use case?

                We use FlexPod to simplify support, to accelerate troubleshooting by using the FlexPod in integrating. Whether it's a VMware or a UCS Cisco problem, or a Nexus problem, it makes support a lot simpler.

                How has it helped my organization?

                It keeps us on track. You have to stay FlexPod-certified, you have to really stay on track with your updates, but the troubleshooting and support aspects are really where it's the biggest bang for the buck.

                What is most valuable?

                Unified support. Being able to get a vendor from one company or another company on the line without having to go back through the call queue.

                For how long have I used the solution?

                One to three years.

                What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                It's been very stable. I have no issues with it.

                What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                It scales fine, all three components are able to scale. If I need to throw on another chassis, I throw on another chassis. If I need more storage, I expand my NetApp portion of it. It's been easy.

                How are customer service and technical support?

                Although it's really hard to automatically get the correct person the first time, what you can do is get someone from one stack, say VMware, and if they say, "Hey, it's not a VMware problem, it's a networking problem," they can loop in the Cisco person, give them all the information, and we can troubleshoot the Cisco or the networking portion of it. They might say, "Hey, you know what, it's storage latency. Let's loop in the NetApp partner." They can all talk in the backend and compare logs, versus me having to open three tickets and wait.

                It allows me to loop in support from three different companies and not have to open a ticket with each company, and then have them say, "Send me the logs." Then have them say a couple hours later, "Well, we looked at the logs. It's not us. Go to the next guy." And then you go to the next guy and the next guy says, "Well, send me the logs, describe the problem." He takes a couple of hours, looks at the logs and says, "Hey, it's not us, it's the other guy."

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

                We used physical servers, different storage, older legacy equipment.

                The most important criteria when selecting with a vendor are 

                • reliability
                • technical expertise
                • speed in response time.

                How was the initial setup?

                The setup was pretty straightforward. We obviously engaged a reseller to help us with it. But putting the different components together is pretty straightforward.

                Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                We didn't evaluate others. We decided to go with NetApp and that drove the decision every place else. We went with the Cisco UCS chassis because that fit our solution.

                What other advice do I have?

                Do your research. It's good for our business case but maybe it doesn't fit your particular business needs, or maybe there's a better solution out there. In our circumstance, it fit our needs and has performed as advertised.

                Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                EG
                Data Center Manager at a consultancy with 5,001-10,000 employees
                Real User
                A single pane of glass for multiple people on the management side of USC, whether it is data center, sysadmin, or server deployment

                Pros and Cons

                • "For the management side of our UCS, it is a single pane of glass for multiple people, whether it is data center, sysadmin, or server deployment."
                • "The hardware has been rock solid so far. It has gone up easy. It runs well. We have not had issues with it."
                • "We have had a bit of struggle on the support side. From a customer perspective, it has been up to us to make sure that we get both NetApp and Cisco involved when we have had an issue."

                What is our primary use case?

                We are using it in two cases. 

                1. We are using it for a database solution, so we're moving all of our 12G database systems onto Oracle UCS with flash as the hot store. We are still using spinning disk as the cold store. Initial tests are going really well. We're actually moving our first big load on in a couple of weeks. 
                2. We are using Oracle VM Citrix-based hypervisor, full solution, with FlexPod as the repo on the back-end. All the guest nodes are running on UCS B200 M4s. We have A700, A300, and A200 on the back-end for various slavers and pulls, and they are all working great.

                We just put our first full workloads on it about a month ago. Since then, everyone has been saying after booting it, this was their fastest startup ever in that environment. Thus, it is working well so far.

                How has it helped my organization?

                For the management side of our UCS, it is a single pane of glass for multiple people, whether it is data center, sysadmin, or server deployment. 

                On the UCS side for server profile, there is a type of layer of abstraction from the actual hardware. It is a lot easier to do hardware replacement, as long as you are Fibre Channel booting, you can just replace hardware which breaks and have things come right back online.

                Flash obviously just adds speed and bandwidth to everything.

                What is most valuable?

                The most valuable features in a data center, or parts of it, are footprint and power consumption. The flash side is the first time that Moore's Law breaks. It gets smaller, and also takes less power.

                What needs improvement?

                We have had a bit of struggle on the support side. 

                I am not looking into the next iterations of it yet, because we are still standing up some parts of what we have now. 

                I would like to see the partnership with NetApp and Cisco continue. We have been a NetApp shop for a long time. We have seen partner agreements between NetApp and tech companies fall apart over time. They were with Hitachi for a while, then 3Par for a while, and so on. However, we have a lot vested in Cisco and NetApp now. We would like to see the Flexpod service agreement strengthen as we continue to benefit on the customer side.

                We like NetApp and Cisco. I do not want to have to figure out how to make either of them work once they have decided to part ways. Therefore, it is important to us that they hold together.

                For how long have I used the solution?

                Less than one year.

                What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                We are pretty new, but so far, we have not had issues on the flash side. We just moved our first production workloads onto it about six to eight weeks ago. We did not find MTBF early.

                What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                We purchased what we needed, so there is some room for scalability. We went big with the A700, thus we are using the 15TB SSDs. So far, so good.

                How are customer service and technical support?

                From a customer perspective, it has been up to us to make sure that we get both NetApp and Cisco involved when we have had an issue. Unfortunately, we cannot just contact one side and they contact the other vendor to sort of work it out in the background, leaving you in the loop. We are interested in what is going on, but we have felt that we have had to pull the two sides together to make the FlexPod service side of it work to our benefit.

                They have worked with us to sort things out. Admittedly, we are running the bleeding edge of things. We are using Oracle UEK, which was not necessarily on either side's support matrix right upfront. Therefore, we have had some issues getting both sides' corporate to play nice. Eventually, it did get sorted out, and we are getting these things resolved.

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

                We previously worked with physical servers. We had a lot of HPE c7000 class. We started with RLX, which was pre-HPE. HPE bought them. 

                We have played with the P class and C class, doing a couple different proven concepts along the way. We had Dell and Cisco, and some other people all come in, and they taught their stuff.

                This time around, from the managed solution side of it, Cisco is what sold us. Hardware is hardware, but how you put the solution together was the selling point for us. To be able to get something saying, "You build it like this." Not, you have a bunch of parts, what do you want to do with it? This is what a lot of the other vendors are still doing. They are tailoring hardware to your workload after you have bought hardware. 

                As opposed to finding the solution you need, helping you build it upfront, presenting the hardware and dock, then showing you how to build it. This is what is nice for us. While a little rough, once you have built it, the support matrix says, "Here is newest version of firmware. Here is newest version of something else." Then, off you go. They do not necessarily take all iterations of change back to the lab to recertify them. 

                You work with the vendor partnership to keep you in compliance going forward. This is one of the reasons that I want to see the NetApp and Cisco partnership hold together. Otherwise, we are right back where we were before. NetApp has an update and Cisco has an update, and neither one of them have tested it with each other. 

                How was the initial setup?

                Setup was pretty easy. This was our first venture into UCS at all. It was a steep learning curve figuring it out. We are using Central to manage six different domains, so getting that hierarchy put together upfront so we could do global templating across all those domains was a little rough, mostly from a conceptual standpoint. It deploys easily now that we have got it out.

                We have been a NetApp shop forever, so that part was a piece of cake.

                What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                Make sure that you engage as much with whom you are buying from as a partnership, not just as a purchase. 

                Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                We did a PoC with four different vendors to test out combinations of a hardware build. Storage was kind of a given as we have been a NetApp shop forever. We have gone through a couple other ones. We really like 3PAR, but that's a different story.

                What other advice do I have?

                The hardware has been rock solid so far. It has gone up easy. It runs well. We have not had issues with it.

                Pay attention to what you need upfront as you are building it. Know the workload that you are trying to solve with it. Make sure you are buying for performance, not just capacity. 

                Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It is important that they care about the business that we do after sale. It is one thing to get a quote, obtain the parts, and make sure you have all the right things upfront. Your business is going to change the next day, especially for a business like us. We are in a multi-customer type of environment where somebody will have a new bright idea tomorrow. Therefore, we need to be adaptable. It is important to have a partnership with the people that we purchase from. Thus, ongoing modifications can continue to be part of the conversation, not just, "I sold you something. Let me know when it is time to renew your contract."

                Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                AP
                Network Systems Specialist at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
                Real User
                The stability of the solution is a key component for me; it has never gone down

                What is our primary use case?

                We have had two FlexPods for five years now. We're currently purchasing a third one. We have never had any problems with them in that time. We are using it for hosting COREmanager and Unity Connection. So far, so good. Its performance is great.

                How has it helped my organization?

                We purchased them when we changed from physical to virtual. We really didn't have a choice but to go virtual. So, I would not be able to tell you how it improved things because it was a different environment entirely. But it definitely streamlines things.

                What is most valuable?

                For me, the most valuable feature is the stability. It's one less worry.

                What needs improvement?

                The new one that we are purchasing is going to have solid state drives. So, obviously, more speed is always a good thing.

                For how long have I used the solution?

                Three to five years.

                What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                We have had no stability issues at all. We had a power failure in our data center. They went down. As soon as we restored the power they came up and everything was good.

                What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                For us, we were looking strictly at three different data centers. So as far as scalability is concerned, we didn't build one on top of another one. We went for stability more than scalability.

                How are customer service and technical support?

                It has never gone down. I think we had one drive go down once, and we opened a tech case. They sent us a new drive.

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

                We were using physical servers, Cisco physical servers. We switched because it was mandatory for updating COREmanager to 8.x, it was mandatory to go VMware.

                For us, the most important criteria in a vendor is that they need to pick up when we call.

                How was the initial setup?

                I coordinated the initial setup, but I wasn't necessarily hands-on. But it was pretty straightforward.

                Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                We had other vendors, but we had NetApp in the house as part of our storage, we also had Cisco in the house. It made sense to combine those two and go with FlexPod.

                What other advice do I have?

                In terms of advice, I can only tell you about FlexPod, I don't have any other solution. I would say definitely go for it.

                Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                EO
                Technical Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
                Reseller
                Enables our customers to combine and streamline compute and storage

                What is our primary use case?

                Our primary use for it is in the healthcare market. We have a lot of customers using it because they want to have some flexibility with storage and compute. That is the reason we are selling it in the healthcare market.

                How has it helped my organization?

                It's much cheaper than the old legacy stuff, especially the storage. It means that our customers don't have to take care of separate storage, separate compute, but can combine them. It streamlines things, especially for development.

                What is most valuable?

                The flexibility of using it for compute as well as the flexibility of the storage itself.

                For how long have I used the solution?

                One to three years.

                What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                When it's running, it's running. It's fine. We are impressed with the product. At the beginning, because it was new for us, there were some issues, but now, after some implementations, it has been okay.

                What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                It's scalable.

                How is customer service and technical support?

                Technical support has been very helpful, and also very polite. They guided us through the process, followed up with us. I've had a good experience with them.

                How was the initial setup?

                The initial setup was straightforward.

                Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                We also looked at HyperFlex. HyperFlex is also compatible but I think NetApp SolidFire is more robust.

                What other advice do I have?

                Our primary criteria when selecting a vendor are to get support, a good solution, one that our customers are happy with.

                My advice would be, try it, buy it, see what you can do with it and get some experience with it. With that experience, you can better sell it to the customer.

                Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
                EZ
                Director Of Engineering
                Real User
                We don't need a storage expert to manage everything for us

                What is our primary use case?

                We use it for virtualizing infrastructure and also for the virtual cloud system.

                How has it helped my organization?

                It gives us pretty solid support from either Cisco or NetApp as well as an all-in-one infrastructure. We don't need a storage expert to manage everything for us.

                What is most valuable?

                • Easy management
                • High performance 
                • A single point of support

                What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                It's pretty stable. There is a small issue with the NetApp and another small issue with Cisco UCS plates, there is a failed disk, but we got a replacement right away so it's pretty solid.

                What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                It's very easy to extend it, add more chassis, more storage capacity.

                How are customer service and technical support?

                We use both NetApp and Cisco for support. I would rate the support at eight out of 10.

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

                Before FlexPod we were using IBM. We switched because it's all about unifying the systems, converging the systems. We felt we should have a solution from network to storage to the server, and computing power, from the same vendor, all in one solution; not take pieces from different vendors and put them together.

                When choosing a vendor the most important criteria are the vendor's reputation and tech support.

                How was the initial setup?

                We bought a few chassis because we have different locations, different data centers. For the first location, we got help from NetApp and Cisco. For the next few locations, we mostly did it by ourselves.

                Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                We initially spoke with Cisco and they recommended this solution.

                What other advice do I have?

                I would advise doing a proof of concept, see it first.

                Overall, I would rate FlexPod an eight out of 10. It's fast, solid, and it keeps improving, adding new features. The support is very good. There have even been times we didn't realize there was an issue and we have automatically received a replacement; all through "call home."

                Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                KH
                Information Security Engineer at a aerospace/defense firm with 10,001+ employees
                MSP
                Enabled us to jump into private cloud infrastructure, instead of public, and cut costs

                Pros and Cons

                • "The flexibility and data deduplication have been the biggest practical applications."

                  What is our primary use case?

                  Our primary use case for NetApp has been as part of a Cisco UCS chassis. We have seven or eight different instances of it now, spread around the world. So far, it has been very reliable, other than a few hard drive failures here and there, but those are expected.

                  How has it helped my organization?

                  We run a lot of the same OS's so it really saves us a lot on infrastructure cost.

                  It helped us really jump into the private cloud infrastructure instead of just trying to jump straight into public, which is way more expensive in the long run. That is what most businesses will be looking for in the end. It really is a cost saving when you can keep it in-house.

                  What is most valuable?

                  The flexibility and data deduplication have been the biggest practical applications.

                  What needs improvement?

                  More flash is going to be the biggest thing for us. We use a lot of SaaS currently, but flash is the way to go.

                  For how long have I used the solution?

                  More than five years.

                  What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                  It has been very stable. We've had UCS with NetApp for about six years now and I would venture to say it's "five nines" so far.

                  What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                  We typically add a new chassis about every six months, so it's very scalable.

                  How are customer service and technical support?

                  I haven't personally used the technical support, but we do have a few people who worked for NetApp who have come to work for us. Their interactions with NetApp have been great.

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

                  FlexPod was really our first major endeavor in large converged hardware.

                  Our most important criteria when selecting a vendor are the availability of support, to get it when we need it, and to upgrade as fast as possible when we need to.

                  How was the initial setup?

                  I was involved in the Initial design and configuration. It was as straightforward as it gets.

                  Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                  We were looking at EMC as well. At the time, Cisco was partnered with both, but we went for the data deduplication from NetApp. EMC wasn't quite the same.

                  What other advice do I have?

                  It doesn't really get simpler than the setup that we had, and the maintenance that we have had. I would tell colleagues that NetApp is the way to go.

                  Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                  Sreenivas H
                  IT Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
                  Real User
                  We can ship it and manage it remotely from any server

                  Pros and Cons

                  • "It has had a big, positive impact, because now everything is centralized."
                  • "Everything is preconfigured. We can ship it and manage it remotely from any server. It is all in a box."
                  • "I want to use the expansion to its fullest extent, scaling by deploying 10 to 15 virtual missions in a given FlexPod."
                  • "We would like something like a FlexPod Express; we want a smaller version for small offices."

                  What is our primary use case?

                  My primary use case for FlexPod is for usage at our remote and small branch offices.

                  How has it helped my organization?

                  It has had a big, positive impact, because now everything is centralized. I do not have to have a storage or network admin, nor a hypervisor. Everything is preconfigured. Therefore, we can ship it and manage it remotely from any server. It is all in a box. 

                  We have been very impressed with it.

                  What is most valuable?

                  The biggest challenge that FlexPod helped me with: Now, I am not replying everyone at all my remote locations. I have approximately 38 small offices. Previously, I provided a lot of physical service, and replied to people. 

                  How I fixed the issue: I configure a FlexPod. I will ship it. I will install it. Then, everything I can, I will manage from my main office. Thus, I reply to fewer people at all my locations.

                  What needs improvement?

                  We would like something like a FlexPod Express; we want a smaller version for small offices. At the moment, we have medium and larger offices, plus data centers, but we are also looking for something for smaller offices. A smaller, customizable, express solution, which would fulfill our local, small office needs.

                  I want to use the expansion to its fullest extent, scaling by deploying 10 to 15 virtual missions in a given FlexPod. Right now, all my virtual missions are approximately five or less, which does not appear to be utilizing the product fully. I want to have scalability in any situation, even during major outages. 

                  For how long have I used the solution?

                  Three to five years.

                  What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                  We have been using it for the last four years. It has not had any outages yet, and I have had about eight deployments so far.

                  What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                  I use FlexPod for small remote offices. I do not come across scalability often because I have a three node minimum, which is working out well. If we want to scale, we would need a lot of technical assessment. However, from what I have read and heard, it is easy to scale, so it should not be a problem.

                  How are customer service and technical support?

                  Once in a while, we do call Cisco. Sometimes Cisco will transfer call to NetApp. Sometimes my admins, by default, will call NetApp. Either way, it works fine. No one pushes back and says, "Why did you call Cisco or NetApp?" Both companies partner behind the scenes getting us the support that we need and help guide us through the process.

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

                  We did not have a previous solution. We used to use Dell, IBM, and HPE machines, which were all old. We used to always have a lot of problems with other domain controllers, file servers, DNS, and DNCP. 

                  Everything is now in FlexPod and virtual. It is always up and running.

                  How was the initial setup?

                  The initial setup is pretty straightforward. We do leverage a reseller to size it. Our partners are RoundTower and WWT. They configure the sizing, then they install the basic hardware. Afterwards, they will ship it to us. 

                  We configure the hypervisor and storage network, then we ship it to branch office.

                  Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                  We are looking at the Dell solution, and also we are looking at Cisco Flex. 

                  Right now, there is no immediate need to switch over.

                  What other advice do I have?

                  This is the best hyperconverged infrastructure. No need to be worried (or scared) on how these three solutions will sit in a box. Everything is prepackaged and rebuilt. It is seamless when you want to install or ship it. No complaints.

                  Most important criteria when working with a vendor: We were concerned how these three partners, NetApp, Cisco, and VMware, would come together for network, storage, and compute. At the beginning, we were a little concerned. It has been four years now with no issues, and it is going well.

                  Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                  Evan Wheatley
                  Solution Architect at Charter
                  Real User
                  Solution is vetted, validated, and supported end-to-end

                  Pros and Cons

                  • "Gives us a single point of contact for support."
                  • "The most valuable features are that the solution is vetted and validated and it's supported end-to-end."
                  • "There are apparently some new products coming around the whole FlexPod side of things with regards to auditing, to ensure everything is configured correctly. It's basically a "delta" if there have been any changes. It's important to us, from a support perspective, to know if there have been changes and what impact they have actually had."

                  What is our primary use case?

                  We primarily deploy FlexPod with customers that have defined business requirements. For customers that have used it in the past, we basically rinse and repeat because they do like the product and reuse it continually.

                  How has it helped my organization?

                  For our support side, our service desk, it's very helpful. They've got a single point of contact. They know what the solution looks like. It's a consistent experience for them as well.

                  What is most valuable?

                  The most valuable features are that the solution is vetted and validated and it's supported end-to-end.

                  What needs improvement?

                  I was speaking to some product managers at NetApp yesterday, which is good. There are apparently some new products coming around the whole FlexPod side of things with regards to auditing, to ensure everything is configured correctly. It's basically a "delta" if there have been any changes. It's important to us, from a support perspective, to know if there have been changes and what impact they have actually had.

                  What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                  It's stable. I haven't had any issues at all.

                  What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                  Scalability is not something we have really hit. We generally deploy on the smaller side of things, but we haven't had any issues with size or anything like that.

                  How are customer service and technical support?

                  We haven't called NetApp directly but we get tech support through Cisco and we get absolutely great support from them. They guide us from A to Z.

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

                  We didn't work with a previous solution. Our background was all Cisco networking. Then, when Cisco came into the compute market we moved into it.

                  When selecting a vendor my most important criteria are support and validated designs.

                  How was the initial setup?

                  There are a lot of components to it, but setting up FlexPod is what we do every day, so it is easy enough for us to go through and do. We've got some intellectual property that we have built around it, but it becomes second nature.

                  What other advice do I have?

                  My advice is to reach out to people who have used it. It's a good solution and the proof is from the users who use it.

                  I would rate it a nine, close to a 10 out of 10. The support is great. It's a validated solution. It's the best-of-breed of all the products that are in the FlexPod as well. It's just a great solution for us.

                  Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                  Devin Chappell
                  Solutions Architect at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
                  Real User
                  Flexible architecture enables same level of simplicity as hyper-converged environments

                  Pros and Cons

                  • "It scales well. It allows us to have very flexible architecture but to have the same level of simplicity that we'd normally expect in hyper-converged environments."
                  • "I'd like to see a little bit simpler management pane. Using UCS Director to front everything is good but for a lot of that upper mid-market, it's probably a little bit of overkill for what they need. They just want a nice, simply portal to go through and see what's going on. So if there was something that was middle of the road, it would be well received."

                  What is our primary use case?

                  We primarily use it to provide compute resources for customers. It is basically a data center in a box, and it performs very well for us.

                  How has it helped my organization?

                  The biggest benefit for us, as a partner, is the ease of implementing it. Because the configuration tends to be relatively consistent, we have a series of configuration templates that we can just pretty much stamp out on demand. I can do an entire data to center deployment in under a day now.

                  What is most valuable?

                  It scales well. It allows us to have very flexible architecture but to have the same level of simplicity that we'd normally expect in hyper-converged environments.

                  What needs improvement?

                  I'd like to see a little bit simpler management pane. Using UCS Director to front everything is good and UCS Director is a good product and it's priced well for what it does, but for a lot of that upper mid-market, it's probably a little bit of overkill for what they need. They just want a nice, simply portal to go through and see what's going on. So if there was something that was middle of the road, it would be well received.

                  What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                  The stability has been awesome.

                  How are customer service and technical support?

                  Technical support is very good. We've been very happy with the response we've received. I feel they guide us through the entire process. I don't necessarily get the right person the first time when calling, but I don't think you ever get that with a Support Desk.

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

                  We were just building stacks by hand. We were strongly encouraged by Cisco - we partner with them - and when the platform began to get some traction, we looked into it and got on board.

                  For me, the most important thing when working with a vendor is the flexibility. We have great partner relationships with Cisco and NetApp, but it's the flexibility of the platform and the product, the way we can sell and implement it, that makes it really easy for us.

                  How was the initial setup?

                  The setup is not complex but there are a lot of moving pieces. There are a lot of components to go through and touch and configure the very first time, but once you get a couple under your belt it's very easy to go through and stamp it out from there. If you follow the standardized templates and the design guides, it takes a lot of the work out of it.

                  What other advice do I have?

                  My advice is to read the design guides, that is the most important thing. Also, work with an integrator wherever possible.

                  I rate FlexPod an eight out of 10. If there was a simpler management pane, maybe a little bit more flexibility in terms of multiple hypervisors in a single deployment, I would rate it higher. But aside from those issues, we're very happy.

                  Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                  DA
                  Executive Director Of IT at a university
                  Real User
                  Condensed our data center footprint significantly, and virtualization gives us redundancy on all our boxes

                  Pros and Cons

                  • "It took a server room where we had 280 servers and another with 180 and condensed them from 15 racks down to three racks. It's helping us in the data center with all our environmentals... In addition, we're getting the ability of VMware, which is virtualization, so now we have redundancy on all of our boxes, instead of them being physical."

                    What is our primary use case?

                    What we wanted to do with the FlexPod solution was get VMware, our NetApp, and Cisco solutions, all in one. Also, to be able to take all of our physical servers and move them into a virtual environment, which we were able to accomplish.

                    How has it helped my organization?

                    It took a server room where we had 280 servers and another with 180 and condensed them from 15 racks down to three racks. It's helping us in the data center with all our environmentals: we're talking about heat, air conditioning, our FM200s, all of that. It brought all of those down, so we're saving money there. Plus, we're saving money in support because we're condensing it all down. In addition, we're getting the ability of VMware, which is virtualization, so now we have redundancy on all of our boxes, instead of them being physical.

                    What is most valuable?

                    One of the most valuable things is the support. The reason for the FlexPod was that we didn't want solutions where everybody was pointing the finger at each other, blaming each other. With this solution, NetApp really takes control and really wraps its support around the whole solution. It gives us the ability to call one place and to get support and get the product up and running, smoothly.

                    What needs improvement?

                    In terms of features for a future release, that's more for my engineers to answer rather than me. For me, right now, no complaints. My big thing is getting the complaints - they come to me - and since we went to this system, we've had no complaints.

                    For how long have I used the solution?

                    One to three years.

                    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                    We have had it up now for about two years and we haven't had a problem with it yet.

                    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                    We have already scaled it. In the last two years, we've already extended out with more hard drive space, with more memory, with more processing power. No problems whatsoever.

                    How are customer service and technical support?

                    Their support is absolutely up to par. I even like their automation support. This morning, I got an email saying that one of our drives had a problem, and they were going to replace the drive. They send it to us and then they show us how to put it in.

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

                    We were using all standalone solutions. We had Dell standalones, we had HPE standalones, etc. The problem with the standalones was, if one box went down, whatever application was on it went down too.

                    When this whole age of virtualization came out, I made the choice that we needed to go that way, for a couple of reason. We have a slim IT department, our resources are valuable, and this allows us to put resources in other places and not have to worry about the technology.

                    What I like, when choosing a vendor is when they bring solutions to the table, and then they go through with those solutions.

                    How was the initial setup?

                    I wasn't involved personally in the initial setup but my staff was. It was very simple. We got on with NetApp, we got the Cisco guys together, we got our VM guys together. NetApp really took the lead and just pushed us through. So it was a very simple setup.

                    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                    We had all of the options, but not as a FlexPod, rather as separate solutions. We were looking at VM, we were looking at HPE, and this solution brought it all together in a nice little package for us.

                    What other advice do I have?

                    Definitely go with FlexPod. It's a great solution, especially with - I keep bringing up NetApp - but NetApp is a great company to work with. They really take the lead. I think it's worthwhile. You'll take your server farm from 200, or however many you have, condense it into one virtual environment, with the backing of Cisco, with the backing of NetApp. I think it's a perfect solution.

                    I would rate FlexPod a 10 out of 10, absolutely. The best.

                    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                    ChrisBarnes
                    Lead Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
                    MSP
                    The ability to program the system enables deployment of more reliable solutions

                    Pros and Cons

                      • "I think they are working on it, but I would like to be able to log into a portal and see the end-to-end solution and understand where it stands, from a supportability perspective."

                      What is our primary use case?

                      We sell FlexPod and enable our customers to leverage it to run their data centers.

                      How has it helped my organization?

                      Based on the fact that our clients can use code to program the system, they are able to deploy solutions that are a lot more reliable. That enables them to focus more on their business, rather than solving technology problems.

                      What is most valuable?

                      • Flexibility
                      • Programmability 
                      • Scalability

                      What needs improvement?

                      I think they are working on it, but I would like to be able to log into a portal and see the end-to-end solution and understand where it stands, from a supportability perspective. Something like that has been there, in one form or another over the years, but I believe that they're working to make it something that's more well-supported going forward.

                      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                      It's very stable.

                      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                      It scales very well, absolutely.

                      How is customer service and technical support?

                      Technical support is knowledgeable, we reach the right person when we contact them. We, ourselves, also provide first-call support for FlexPod.

                      How was the initial setup?

                      Setup is very straightforward. We understand the customer requirements. We take those and translate them into the configuration scripts. We can set it up very quickly and reliably and get them into production a lot faster than most traditional solutions.

                      What other advice do I have?

                      Our most important criteria when working with or selecting a vendor include their maturity in the market, their customer satisfaction, their NPS score, and their ability to be flexible as a partner to us

                      I rate FlexPod highly because it was the first converged solution that was supported by all of the vendors at the same time, which is as flexible as it is, from a scalability and supportability perspective.

                      My advice is to make sure you understand the business requirements and size it appropriately.

                      Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
                      RK
                      Manager Of Network Administrator at a educational organization with 201-500 employees
                      Real User
                      The initial setup was very straightforward. They provided a lot of documentation.

                      Pros and Cons

                      • "It has been a great product, primarily because of a lot of its deduplication features, and the out-of-the-box thinking on block level storage from NetApp."
                      • "The initial setup was very straightforward. They provided a lot of documentation."

                        What is our primary use case?

                        We have our primary and backup data centers as our primary storage, not only for Windows Servers on NFS, but also as part of our users' data stores.

                        How has it helped my organization?

                        It has been a great product, primarily because of a lot of its deduplication features, and the out-of-the-box thinking on block level storage from NetApp, in particular. For the solution as a whole, it is great that all the different products work so well together.

                        What is most valuable?

                        Everyone's willingness to work together to solve problems. We have had a few minor issues where we have been able to get Cisco, NetApp, and VMware all on the phone to solve a problem together. No one points fingers and everyone understands each others' products.

                        What needs improvement?

                        We have had some technical issues around the Java UI, but nothing major.

                        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                        It has been incredibly stable. As with any technology solutions, there are issues, but we were able to get those resolved very quickly. No one takes, "No," for an answer. We get it handled.

                        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                        We have had to add some disk shelves to the system over the last couple years. We have never had issues here.

                        How are customer service and technical support?

                        We get a lot of domestic support. We are in Kansas City, and the support office is in Wichita, Kansas. They are three hours away from us. They have never come, but it is great to have that local connection. They do a very good job of taking care of their stuff. They got a lot of pride in their equipment.

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

                        We had EMC storage before we got to the NetApp storage. We had a lot of supportability issues. It was an older system, so it was better just to upgrade the system or replace it.

                        We knew we needed to invest in a new solution when we were replacing four hard drives a day.

                        How was the initial setup?

                        The initial setup was very straightforward. They provided a lot of documentation. They provided a lot of drawings as to how to cable it properly, along with a lot of tools, making sure it was set up properly.

                        What about the implementation team?

                        I set it up myself.

                        What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                        We purchased from CDW•G. They are great partners on the government side.

                        Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                        I have been a happy NetApp/FlexPod customer for years.

                        What other advice do I have?

                        Go through all the training, and make sure you understand all the systems. It is very different than a lot of the other systems. There are intricacies which are important to understand, especially with the duplication providers. Therefore, understanding all the challenges around it is important for long-term support.

                        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: A vendor who cares about us as a customer. A vendor who is able to work through every issue, regardless of who is at fault, and solve the problem.

                        Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                        RH
                        Technical Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
                        MSP
                        A very stable, simple turnkey solution which is pretty scalable

                        Pros and Cons

                        • "The virtual environment is a lot more efficient than physical boxes."
                        • "The product is very stable and it does what it needs to do."
                        • "There is a lot of documentation that has to be reviewed before you go through an upgrade. It is not as straightforward as some other solutions."

                        What is our primary use case?

                        It is where we keep our production network: all our main controllers, accounting applications, and our file servers. They are running on FlexPod.

                        How has it helped my organization?

                        The virtual environment is a lot more efficient than physical boxes. It allows us to move stuff around a lot, adding resources and removing resources with minimal disruption.

                        What is most valuable?

                        It is a simple turnkey solution.

                        When we purchased it, we had to configure everything. However, everything was already there. We just cabled it up and started to build the virtual machines (VMs).

                        For how long have I used the solution?

                        Three to five years.

                        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                        It is been pretty stable. We have had it running for over five years now, and have had minimal problems.

                        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                        It is pretty scalable. It has allowed us to add more stuff very easily.

                        How are customer service and technical support?

                        The technical support is amazing. The NetApp support is really good. We had some problems with the storage, so we contacted them. They jumped right in and were able to take care of the issue quickly.

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

                        The solution was already implemented when I arrived at the company.

                        How was the initial setup?

                        I was not involved in the initial setup, but sometimes I am involved with upgrades which are challenging. This is because there is a lot of documentation that has to be reviewed before you go through an upgrade. It is not as straightforward as some other solutions. However, the product is very stable and it does what it needs to do.

                        What other advice do I have?

                        Make sure you have your NetApp support up-to-date.

                        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: reliability, support, and value for money.

                        Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                        KR
                        Network Engineer at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
                        Consultant
                        It is more stable than other solutions. We do not touch it.

                        Pros and Cons

                        • "Technical support has been good when we have contacted them in the past. They have been helpful."
                        • "Once it is in place, we do not touch it, so it is more stable than other solutions."
                        • "We would like more security features."

                        What is our primary use case?

                        It is performing well. It is the data center of devices, e.g., when we are using the call locations in San Francisco and Sacramento.

                        How has it helped my organization?

                        If we go to different vendors, this solution looks good. Though, it is mainly manufactured to a particular size.

                        As per the implements, we need to bring more devices for this type of situation. It will be helpful for us to get more infrastructure export, etc.

                        What is most valuable?

                        • Its existing space
                        • Its design

                        What needs improvement?

                        We would like more security features.

                        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                        Once it is in place, we do not touch it, so it is more stable than other solutions.

                        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                        Scalability is good. 

                        Once our current issue is fixed, it will be good. Then, we will not have any issues on it.

                        How is customer service and technical support?

                        Technical support has been good when we have contacted them in the past. They have been helpful. However, we have the technical experts, so we do not use their services often.

                        How was the initial setup?

                        We used it for the remote setup, not the physical setup.

                        We upgrade it normally during downtime.

                        What about the implementation team?

                        We do it ourselves when it is straightforward. When it is a complex installation, we bring their technical person onboard. 

                        What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                        We purchased the solution through CDW. They are a partner and knowledgeable. 

                        We are good and comfortable with CDW.

                        What other advice do I have?

                        It is a good solution compared to other products. 

                        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It depends on the device - How much it carries, what the security is, etc.

                        Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                        JB
                        Senior systems manager at a transportation company with 201-500 employees
                        Real User
                        It has simplified our support

                        Pros and Cons

                        • "It has simplified our support."
                        • "It has been very stable. There has been no downtime."
                        • "They could improve their technical support team. They need to have a specific phone number for you to call in for the FlexPod solution. Some of the partner support knows if it is for FlexPod, they will get you to the right department."
                        • "Unified management would be really nice, having one a single pane of glass to manage everything do with the solution."

                        What is our primary use case?

                        Primary use case is for virtualization of our phone systems and our domain.

                        How has it helped my organization?

                        Being able to contact one place to get support, e.g., if it is the virtualization end of it, hardware, or storage. There is just one place to get support.

                        It has simplified our support.

                        What is most valuable?

                        • Reference design
                        • Ease of use
                        • Ease of support

                        What needs improvement?

                        They could improve their technical support team.

                        Unified management would be really nice, having one a single pane of glass to manage everything do with the solution.

                        For how long have I used the solution?

                        More than five years.

                        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                        It has been very stable. There has been no downtime.

                        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                        Over the last six years, it has scaled very well.

                        How are customer service and technical support?

                        On scale of one to 10, I would rate them about a seven. They need to have a specific phone number for you to call in for the FlexPod solution. Some of the partner support knows if it is for FlexPod, they will get you to the right department. 

                        Overall, I do reach the right person when I call them and they do offer the proper guidance.

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

                        We were previously using very individual systems, then our vendor suggested this. Also, because our phone systems, we were also using reference design.

                        How was the initial setup?

                        The initial setup was very straightforward.

                        What about the implementation team?

                        We had a managed project team which did the installation.

                        Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                        We evaluated one other vendor.

                        We chose FlexPod because we were previous customers and know their support structure.

                        What other advice do I have?

                        When considering a solution, look at it in total from purchase. Then, look at what is going on five years down the road. Do a comparison of expansion, ease of expansion, and everything else.

                        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: reliability. We receive this now from the FlexPod solution.

                        Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                        CW
                        Systems Engineer at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
                        Real User
                        Handles all our server data reliably, it just works

                        Pros and Cons

                          • "If there were going to be any improvements, they should probably be UI improvements, overall. It can get a little kludgy sometimes when trying to figure out what to do."

                          What is our primary use case?

                          We use it for our inner data center and with our UCS to handle all our server data, and it's doing pretty well.

                          How has it helped my organization?

                          It was in place when I got to this job. Since I've been here, it has just worked, it functions fine. We haven't had any issues with it.

                          What is most valuable?

                          Ease of use: Get it set up and it just works.

                          What needs improvement?

                          If there were going to be any improvements, they should probably be UI improvements, overall. It can get a little kludgy sometimes when trying to figure out what to do. But, other than that, from what I'm using right now, it seems to be okay.

                          There's a learning curve associated with it.

                          What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                          The stability is pretty good. For us, it just works. It's something we don't have to deal with every day, and that's a plus for us.

                          What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                          Whenever it was initially set up, they had a small goal. Now we're using a lot of the storage in it, so we're looking into some expansion, whether we need to do additional pods. We're in the initial stages, we're still trying to figure out how much data we're going to retain and how big we need to scale it. That's the question that we're trying to answer right now.

                          How is customer service and technical support?

                          We have used technical support once or twice, to try to add some functionality into it that we didn't use, and they were pretty good.

                          How was the initial setup?

                          I wasn't involved in the initial setup but I'm involved in the upgrading process. It's okay. I haven't worked with it in the past. I'm trying to get in with it, it's a little confusing and different from what I was doing before. But, so far, it's been okay, just minor bumps in the road.

                          What other advice do I have?

                          My top criteria when selecting a vendor are that they are easy to work with and have knowledgeable engineers on the other side. When I have questions, I want to be able to get them answered easily.

                          Make sure to have FlexPod on the list. If you're looking at HPE or Dell EMC, put NetApp in there and take a look at them.

                          Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                          Mark Reboli
                          Network/Telecom/IT Security Manager at a university with 201-500 employees
                          Real User
                          Flexible architecture means I can swap out storage and easily replace failed drives

                          Pros and Cons

                          • "I really like the architecture and I like the fact that on the storage side I can swap it out. Right now I'm on NetApp, I might go to Pure Storage. I have the flexibility. But as far as the equipment itself, the way it's all bundled together, from the UCS perspective, its rock solid."
                          • "I'd like to see a little more on the provisioning and the replication piece... Also, I don't want to say analytics are lacking but I'd like to see more analytics."

                          What is our primary use case?

                          We use it for some 90 servers and systems. It runs our primary student information system, we have our phone systems through it, our email. Everything is running on it, all critical functions, all critical servers.

                          How has it helped my organization?

                          Because it's virtual, I don't have issues. All the hardware that's tied into it, whether it's memory, disk, etc., it's all seamless. It's not a big deal to make changes, it's not a big deal to upgrade. I've had drives that have failed. It's not a big deal, you just pop it out and pop the new one in and everything's fine.

                          What is most valuable?

                          I really like the architecture and I like the fact that on the storage side I can swap it out. Right now I'm on NetApp, I might go to Pure Storage. I have the flexibility. But as far as the equipment itself, the way it's all bundled together, from the UCS perspective, its rock solid.

                          I run all the critical applications for the university on my FlexPod solution. It needs to be up 24/7, 365. I don't need "five nines," I need "eight nines" - and it stays up.

                          What needs improvement?

                          I'd like to see a little more on the provisioning and the replication piece. I've defaulted to Veeam as our vehicle for backup. I'd like to see more insight and more analytics.

                          I'm going to pick on Cisco: Their products are great and they do a great job. But, especially in this day and age with the college dealing with the EU and GDPR and a lot of other issues, I really need the analytics; that's what really helps me to sell me the solution. It's a cost. Whatever I can do from an analytics side that helps me deal with different things, will only help. GDPR and the EU's requirements are more security based, but there are also some data components buried in there regarding how you are handling the data. How are you storing it? For some of those pieces, I really need a good solution. I don't want to say analytics is lacking, I just want more analytics.

                          For how long have I used the solution?

                          More than five years.

                          What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                          Scalability is fine, I'm on my third or fourth iteration with it. As far as I can see, I'm probably going to stick with it.

                          How are customer service and technical support?

                          For the most part, technical support has been on the software side with VMware. As far as going through TAC, we have not had to use it too much. I've been on FlexPod now for about seven, or eight years, and the number of times I have called TAC on issues is very very small. Most of the time, if there is something, I deal with my VAR and they have been great to deal with. I've never had any major issues.

                          TAC has been really good. The other thing that I do is I work very closely with my account manager, he's a great guy, Tyrone. He has been great to work with and the nice thing for me is that he has brought in the right people. From a data center standpoint, Jamie has been up to see me I don't know how many times. I say, "Here's what I'm trying to do," and they say, "Here are the different options you have," and they try to help us figure out the right way to go, from their perspective. I bring in my guys and we try to put it all together.

                          I really like the team approach, for me, it's an advantage. I do have other options but it's just so easy to work with them. I get what I need, I get the scalability, I get the future-proofing. I don't have issues. I have too many other things to worry about. If I can eliminate one I'll take it.

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

                          Before FlexPod it was all physical servers. Believe me, the time savings, the issue reduction, I can't say enough about the solution over physical servers, to do it justice. It's night and day.

                          When I'm looking at a vendor, cost is always a component but that's not number one. My number one is their professionalism in getting me through from soup to nuts: from the start of the project all the way to the end, to make sure that it's running right. And on "Day Two", support. If they cover that whole project, I'm good.

                          How was the initial setup?

                          The setup is pretty straightforward. The biggest thing I would say to you if you were looking at doing one is, really look at your VAR. Find one that has done it before and that will help you to make sure you don't have any major pitfalls.

                          What other advice do I have?

                          I've recommended Flexpod a few times. Every one of them has been extremely happy with it. It's a solid workhorse, especially in shops like mine where we're in the small to mid-range and I don't have the people to sit there and just babysit something. I have too many things for them to do. This product is really good. I don't want to say it's a set-it-and-forget-it, but the daily, hands-on is so light. The visibility - even though I pick on the analytics - is decent. I can get my guys to manage it, but it also frees them up so I can get them working on other things, which is critical in this day and age.

                          Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                          Sihle Letlaka
                          Enterprise Architecture at a consumer goods company
                          Real User
                          It is a more flexible way to store your data

                          Pros and Cons

                          • "Performance-wise, it is actually doing quite well. The end users are very happy with it."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            It is used as a data storage infrastructure. We also use it for ERP applications, a combination of SYSPRO and SAP. 

                            Performance-wise, it is actually doing quite well. The end users are very happy with it.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            It has improve my organization through cost savings. I belong to a cost center. I need to try and find ways to optimize solutions by actually reducing costs as opposed to running up the bill.

                            What is most valuable?

                            • TS Series storage functionality
                            • Scalability
                            • Flexibility
                            • Rich features

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            It is fairly stable. I have not heard about any issues since it was deployed.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            It is definitely scalable.

                            How is customer service and technical support?

                            I have not used it personally.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            I was not involved in the initial setup.

                            What was our ROI?

                            Storage is very expensive. To buy MIC cards and additional storage either on-prem or in the cloud, the IT department does not have money for it, so you need a more niche product or a more flexible way to store your data. That is the benefit that you get from this product.

                            Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                            The strategy of the blueprint and the roadmap were done by the global company. They did the testing in the global company, then once they were happy with the results from the test lab, it was made the standard for the global company and each zone had to comply with it.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            It is always best to test it, whether in a DevOps environment or do a demo, before actually going fully live. You need to make sure it behaves right in a new environment, because there is no environment that is exactly same as another. It might work on my environment, then you try it on yours and it does not work, then you will blame the product. However, the issue might not be with the product, it might be something else. So, it is very important to make sure that you test it, you do a POC on your environment, and watch its behavior.

                            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

                            It is a partnership, more than a transactional relationship. You often find if you work for a massive, FMCG company, like AB InBev, that you will not find all the feature sets that you require as off the table products. 

                            What I want to see:

                            1. When you engage your customer and say, "This is what you are trying to go through. This is the direction we are trying to go through."
                            2. Often our customers want required feature sets, which will help our business going forward as well as keeping the vendor fulling aligned.
                            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                            DZ
                            Service Delivery Architect at Premiercomm
                            Consultant
                            Enables full-stack VMware integration and rapid cloning

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "When our clients choose to call NetApp or Cisco directly, the cooperative support model means they can get passed back and forth between the two organizations freely. It works really well."
                            • "The fact that it can run the entire stack in terms of protocols. The integration for most of our customers is VMware; the full-stack integration. Also, the ability to do rapid cloning."
                            • "I have never seen a more resilient HA product out there then NetApp's solution. If I want to know that I'm putting my workload on a solution, from a storage perspective, that is going to be up 100% of the time, I'm going to choose NetApp."
                            • "As the industry as a whole is moving more toward the simplification of IT, that is something where both Cisco and NetApp could look to improve further. Just simplifying the day to day management, the day to day issues that arise, and building more intuitiveness into the interfaces would help."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            The primary use case that we have for most of our customers is where they're in a converged environment and they also have file system storage. It's primarily where they're looking for a solid NAS-based appliance that also runs business-critical workloads well, with a highly available architecture.

                            The focus is data center workload as well as VDI workload. And once they've already got it, why not use it for file storage as well as other things to replace Windows file servers. It's easier to deal with a NetApp - which is typically more secure - than a Windows Server that you're going to have to patch constantly.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            For most of our customer base, the benefit is the cooperative support model. While we tend to offer ourselves to our clients as a first call for support - because we are familiar with the environment - when they choose to call NetApp or Cisco directly, the cooperative support model means they can get passed back and forth between the two organizations freely. It works really well.

                            What is most valuable?

                            For me, it really goes back to the protocols; the fact that it can run the entire stack in terms of protocols. The integration for most of our customers is VMware; the full-stack integration. They're into the VMware environment. Also, the ability to do rapid cloning, the whole nine yards. I don't know that there's anything I wouldn't pitch it for in most data center workloads.

                            What needs improvement?

                            In terms of a future release, I don't know that there is anything that I would specifically ask for. I'm happy with it and I like to see how they continue to evolve it.

                            As the industry as a whole is moving more toward the simplification of IT, that is something where both Cisco and NetApp could look to improve further. Just simplifying the day to day management, the day to day issues that arise, and building more intuitiveness into the interfaces would help. Especially from our customers' perspective, thinking about it from their shoes, a lot of them are wearing a lot of hats. Having things built into monitoring tools that actually provide suggested workarounds or suggested resolutions; continued improvement there is going to go a long way.

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            It is an incredibly stable solution. Back when I was a customer still, we were previously an all-HPE shop that switched to UCS. Stability with UCS was unparalleled, and it's the same thing with NetApp. I have never seen a more resilient HA product out there then NetApp's solution. If I want to know that I'm putting my workload on a solution, from a storage perspective, that is going to be up 100% of the time, I'm going to choose NetApp.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            Scalability is an area where NetApp has definitely grown, once they got out of strictly 7-Mode and moved over to cluster data on tap. The scale-out architecture versus scale-up architecture was more beneficial there and actually carried more weight within the industry when you started to see what some others were doing.

                            On the UCS side of things, I struggle with it back and forth, tying everything back through the fabric interconnects. I see that over time they're not going to scale out as well as they scale up, and you're going to have to replace them at some point. But it's still a much more scalable architecture compared to some of the competing solutions that are out there, like HPE Synergy.

                            How are customer service and technical support?

                            I get frustrated with TAC (Cisco's Technical Assistance Center) from time to time. Whether it's TAC or NetApp, working through level-one technical support has always been a challenge because it's usually a very scripted conversation. When you're an organization like ours, where we're troubleshooting for our customers all the time, you run through the common scenarios already, before turning to support. I like to be able to work my way up a little bit more quickly, and I've learned some tricks over the years to get to a level-two or level-three tech before burning too much time. 

                            Especially when you look at the fact that we also sell a lot of HPE and Nimble, solely because Nimble had great tech support - when you made that phone call, they picked up immediately - that's something that really went a long way toward improving their customer satisfaction. I'd love to see NetApp and Cisco do something similar to that. 

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

                            When I was a customer we still had NetApp, but it was all 7-Mode and then we were running HPE c7000 chassis. When we switched over we went to UCS Nexus and had upgraded to CDOT with brand new clusters at the time.

                            With my current organization, we sell a lot of solutions in many different categories but this is my go-to solution because of my comfort level with it, for sure.

                            When I'm having these conversations with customers, ultimately it's based around what the solution outcome needs to look like, what are the business requirements, what are the business needs and building it out from there. The biggest thing to take into account is the challenges that they're having, whether it's performance, or specific workloads and specific needs they have. A lot of customers use NetApp as just a NAS box, and I really try to do my best to get out there and evangelize that it's far more capable than that. I would say the same thing with UCS.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            I have a lot of experience with setup. I'm somebody who loves to dive into CLI on the NetApp side. I love to build the entire thing from scratch and not really use any of the setup tools that are out there. There is definitely a little bit of a learning curve for FlexPod still, especially as you're building out from scratch. But, at the same time, they have both done a great job at working to simplify that deployment process and make it more straightforward.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            In terms of maintaining the same level of guidance, had we been working with one vendor as opposed to two vendors at the same time, they both have their own individual best practices and there are a lot of best practices out there. There isn't necessarily one that's really the best. I think that there is enough crossover between them that I don't know that it really makes a big difference.

                            I rate FlexPod at eight out of 10 because there is always room for improvement, although there is nothing off the top of my head that I can specifically call out. Going back to the simplification of IT, everybody can always do more to really simplify things because we live at a time where so much of what we do is "a little bit of everything."  As we go through the continued evolution there, that is really the biggest area that both NetApp and Cisco could really improve: to simplify management, to simplify the monitoring, and the maintenance. 

                            Also, bringing down that cost of entry as well and keeping the costs lower would help to us get it into more small to midsize businesses. FlexPod Express is a great product, but continue to bring down that cost of entry.

                            My advice is "do it." It meets the needs of small to midsize business all the way up to the large enterprise that needs to scale in a massive fashion. It's a great product, it's a great solution, and we're really happy with it.

                            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                            BD
                            Infrastructure Manager at a consultancy with 10,001+ employees
                            Real User
                            It runs very well lights out. Set it and forget it.

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "It ships in a rack, so it is very easy to deploy."
                            • "It runs very well lights out. Set it and forget it."
                            • "With the components that come in FlexPod, it has enabled us to reduce connectivity down to one wire, whereas before, we had eight, 12, or 20 wires going to one server."
                            • "NetApp has some tools that you can purchase to do performance management, or you can go with another vendor and buy a product which does the same thing. It would be nice if there was more of these features with the product, not add-ons."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            Our primary use case is company back-end servers and services. The performance is great. 

                            We deployed this for our server environment in our company. Therefore, all the typical systems you would see in a commercial company are what we are running it on. It was not built for a specific use case. It was built instead for using hard servers or network-attached storage. Just putting it all together makes it simple to use.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            As a whole, it is inexpensive, and it uses the least amount of parts. You do not need a lot of things to make it work. It ships in a rack, so it is very easy to deploy.

                            What is most valuable?

                            • We call it one-man management; I do not have a whole team. 
                            • It runs very well lights out. Set it and forget it.

                            What needs improvement?

                            Performance management: NetApp has some tools that you can purchase to do performance management, or you can go with another vendor and buy a product which does the same thing. It would be nice if there was more of these features with the product, not add-ons.

                            For how long have I used the solution?

                            Three to five years.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            The scalability is awesome. With UCS and NetApp, it is very scalable. You cannot get more scalable than that.

                            How are customer service and technical support?

                            We have used technical support mainly for performing a function, not for repair. They have provided us guidance on how to do this.

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

                            Before we went FlexPod, we had hard physical servers with networking. Then depending on the networking and a virtual environment, we had several networking environment stacks which required us to have larger servers with more than one cable, maybe even more than one media type. Now, we have a whole rack full of media-type connectors, even media converters doing the same thing.

                            With this particular setup, you have one 10 gig or 140 gig cable, and that is all you need. Instead of having eight cables, you only have one. We had a physical server to NetApp storage. With the components that come in FlexPod, it has enabled us to reduce connectivity down to one wire, whereas before, we had eight, 12, or 20 wires going to one server.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            For design and initial setup, it was very simple.

                            What about the implementation team?

                            We had technical support help us with the implementation.

                            What was our ROI?

                            I have seen value from FlexPod. The connectivity is simple. There is less to break. There is less tinkering or lost time that you do not really notice. Also, we run our capital for three to five years, so we size it for that type of environment.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            I have run four FlexPod environments, and they have all been phenomenal. They have all worked until you had to turn them off. That is why I like them.

                            I can't imagine anybody not doing this today. But if nobody was doing this today, I would definitely push them to do it.

                            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

                            • Reputability. They have to have a good name. That is the big.
                            • Speed to deploy and getting the purchasing paperwork correct the first time: These are important things in our environment, because they just add to delays.
                            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                            AH
                            Senior Systems Engineer at a transportation company with 501-1,000 employees
                            Real User
                            Our downtime has significantly been reduced

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "It has never fallen out from under us when we were trying to do a critical push."
                            • "Our downtime has significantly been reduced."
                            • "The FAS in it, with all its flexibility and scalability, it is much more complex and could be simplified."
                            • "It would be great to see some form of interoperability between the FAS units and the E-Series, specifically for replication, even if it is just one more replication from a FAS to an E-Series. That would be amazing."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            We have four different use cases that we bought it for:

                            1. Our production VM or infrastructure is on a FlexPod with a metro cluster.
                            2. We have a CCTV system, which is a FlexPod using E-Series as a back end.
                            3. We have another E-Series FlexPod for backup infrastructure, with our combo products.
                            4. We have a test end environment, which is a mini replica of our production, VMware assistance.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            We have been using FlexPod for seven to eight years now. It has evolved a lot over time, primarily in ease of connectivity. It has been built around all the same platforms. It is just what storage back-end that we decide to tie it into it. Will we be using blades, a chassis server, or rack mount servers? This makes it easy for us, because everything is consistent. 

                            It does not matter whether I bought one five years ago or if I bought it today. All of my connectivity will be the same. When I put it in the data center, it takes a few hours, then I can have a base system up and going.

                            What is most valuable?

                            I work at a state agency. With FlexPod, I can contact to NetApp. I can contact our rep and I can get the building materials from him which includes all of my switching, servers, and storage in one place. It saves me a lot of time when I have to go out and send out a bid, especially the bids for larger dollar amounts and longer terms. The more efficiently I can get those bids out and processed, the better it is, and the faster I can deliver solutions to our customers (our users).

                            What needs improvement?

                            There are a few nuances. There is always something which bug you. It always seems like we run into the bugs. It is usually just a simple code update or something like that. 

                            There is always room for little tweaks and little improvements to make life easier. A few things, the E-Series is stupidly, simple. However, the FAS in it, with all its flexibility and scalability, it is much more complex and could be simplified.

                            We had not upgraded to the most recent release of ONTAP (and some of the other newer tools). The newer version that we are in right now went from an Clustered ONTAP 8.2 to an 8.3. In the 8.3, some of the stuff disappeared. It is there, but it is not intuitive to navigate to, like the IO Statistics, etc. I hear this will be fixed in the next versions, but we have yet to see it. 

                            It would be great to see some form of interoperability between the FAS units and the E-Series, specifically for replication, even if it is just one more replication from a FAS to an E-Series. That would be amazing. 

                            For how long have I used the solution?

                            More than five years.

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            Considering we are on our second generation of FlexPods. We are fairly happy with them. For the most part, the system is a rock. Whenever we have needed it, it has always been there. That is the key

                            It has never fallen out from under us when we were trying to do a critical push.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            We haven't hit any limits as of yet. Our most recent purchase is actually a 3.6 petabyte raw system. It is a 360, 10TB drive, which, at the time, is the largest they could do. It is an E-Series, it is more storage then we know what to do with right now.

                            We are only using about half of it right now, so the scale out to the future allows us to get where we want to go. We use it for a CCTV solution, so video never gets smaller, it only gets bigger because there are more cameras. More cameras with a higher resolution and higher frame rates. We made sure that we purchased a system which would will grow with us and scale with us as we need it to.

                            How are customer service and technical support?

                            Unfortunately, we had had to use technical support a few times, but for nothing major. We have not had any major failures, usually it is just your typical drive. We have 1500 spinning disks, so we have a drive die here and there. Most of the time, we do not have to do a whole lot. Usually a drive shows up, we slap it into the system, and it is good to go. 

                            They have been good working with our newer administrators, who are not as familiar with the storage platforms. They over take them, do the upgrades, or walk them through the deduplication processes. 

                            We can call them with anything. We also have a TAM who helps and facilitates a lot. Once we get to the back-end texts, we never have a hassle, even if they determine that it is a VMware or Cisco issue. It does not matter. They are always willing to stay on the phone, all we have to do is open a case with the other provider, and everybody works together and says,“Here is what we found.” 

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

                            Environments that I worked with have always been hodgepodge. We are not huge right, but HBMSUs were even older than when EVAs were popular, but those were limited to block storage only. Yet, in the organization I am in, they were limited to Fibre Channel, therefore going to a FlexPod and having the flexibility to do NFS, CIS to do Fibre Channel, ISCSI, etc., it doesn't matter. We can do it all in one array for whatever vendor solution that we pick, whatever storage they say we need, whatever hardware they say we need, we have it. We have the flexibility to put it all away.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            It was very straightforward. Each solution is a little bit different: Everything from the E-Series being the simplest to MetroCuster being the most complicated, but they have all been relatively straightforward to setup. We have been using NetApp services for most startups, so this has been a big benefit, especially with technology that we did not necessarily understand right off the bat. 

                            What about the implementation team?

                            Occasionally, we utilize support for upgrades. They do the prechecks, make sure the firmware is up-to-date, and run our baselines through to ensure everything is good. 

                            One of the NetApp consultants, Patrick Rodrigue, has always come out and helped us.

                            What was our ROI?

                            It is a little more difficult in government because we do not track that much on the soft dollar side. They look at it more as a capital investment. However, I can tell you from when I started there, when I started with the organization and we put our first FlexPod in our downtime has significantly been reduced.

                            From that prospective, if we look at our return on investment, we had have more productivity uptime. Our end users are obviously happier and IT is not constantly getting a black mark from the business because tech has not been worked.

                            What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                            Make sure you understand the technology that you need, and anytime that you are buying any storage make sure you understand storage. Do not just buy storage based on what somebody sells you in terms of IO or throughput. Buy storage based on the solutions you need, the technologies you need, and what will make your life a lot easier down the road.

                            Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                            It is not so much that we need to invest in FlexPod. I work pretty closely with all of our vendors, and a lot of times, we look and we evaluate. We evaluate all the available solutions out there. It does not matter whether it is a FlexPod or if it is one of the illegal EMC counterparts. We evaluate them all. We look at everything from Nimble Suite and the big brands, like FlexPod. Every time we go out and we evaluate solutions with their flexibility. The flexibility of a FlexPod wins out every time.

                            Having an extremely cost effective solution which is a pain in the butt to manage, a pain in the butt to support, or overly complex does not really do us any good. It ends up just costing us, even though we do not track money. It ends up costing us time, which in turn, costs us money, and management does look at that. 

                            We look at performance. We look at the available options and how they unified a platform, especially when it comes to storage. Recently, we were comparing FAS units to a VNX from EMC. The big difference and big selling point for a FAS unit was the data filer with virtualized block put right on top of it. We do not have to maintain separate controllers. The VNX had to have a Solera and a clearing head in it in order to do block and file based storage. We had to separate discs at a point in time. This is a few years ago, so some of it has changed since then. However, when I talk about simplicity to manage, it also goes into cost. 

                            On the EMC side, I would have had to have dedicated disc per file and dedicated discs for block-based storage. On the FAS side, I could do whatever I wanted. I just had a big disk pool and I could divide it up however I wanted.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            We purchased through CDW. They were knowledgeable about the solution. They won the bid. It was very simple with us. We sent it out for a bid and they came back with the lowest cost on the response.

                            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: Cost is always important, but it is not our base. We look at performance, availability, overall usability, and simplicity.

                            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                            Drew Breece
                            System Analyst at ONEOK, Inc.
                            Real User
                            Non-disruptive and easy to maintain with fantastic support

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "It is easy to add-on to the tool. If we need to add a new switch, a new server, or a new chassis for Blades, it is easy. It is not disruptive. You just do it."
                            • "The nice thing about NetApp is the ease of administration. We have a new storage admin who did not do storage at all, and he has fallen right in with it. There are no real issues."
                            • "They should cram more space in there and find a way to compress things more; dedupe better."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            We use it for VMware. Most of what we do runs on it. Our business runs on it. Probably 60 percent of our environment runs on UCS and 100 percent on NetApp storage, with Cisco switching everywhere.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            The nice thing about NetApp is the ease of administration. We have a new storage admin who did not do storage at all, and he has fallen right in with it. There are no real issues. 

                            From a Cisco standpoint, we moved away from HPE Blade hardware into Cisco UCS hardware, and it is awesome. We like it a lot. They work well together. 

                            Both products are easy to use. Together, they are harmonious.

                            What is most valuable?

                            It is easy to set up and maintain. It has not had any problems. We like support from Cisco and NetApp, though not so much from VMware.

                            There is support for configurations and ways to do things. We just follow them. Knock on wood, we do not have any issues with it.

                            What needs improvement?

                            They should cram more space in there and find a way to compress things more; dedupe better.

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            No stability issues.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            It should meet our needs. It is easy to add on to the tool. If we need to add a new switch, a new server, or a new chassis for Blades, it is easy. It is not disruptive. You just do it.

                            How are customer service and technical support?

                            When we have to call for support, NetApp's people are great and their support is great - I like them as a company. Cisco support is fantastic. 

                            Although we have never really called in for a ticket under the FlexPod umbrella, it is nice to know that we have that option. If we have a VMware issue, a Cisco issue, or a NetApp issue, this is just a nice thing to have.

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

                            We had issues with our old storage provider: quirky stuff, weird outages, almost-outages, and performance issues. We had some IBM hardware and NetApp. Our good luck with NetApp made the decision for us when it was time for a refresh. We got rid of IBM and went all-in on NetApp.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            We did a head swap upgrade about a week ago, which mostly went well for VMware systems. Everything inside the FlexPlod upgraded fine. We had an AIX system with an issue during the upgrade, but that is not my area.

                            What about the implementation team?

                            Relax, as it will not be that hard to implement.

                            What was our ROI?

                            No downtime, which is a good thing.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

                            • Ease of use.
                            • Support: Getting support from a gigantic organization that is ancient, like IBM, was a real challenge. We had some weird bugs that cropped up with IBM and their software which is developed for array replication, in conjunction with VMware. We do not have these issues with NetApp. It just works. Support and supportability are very high.
                            Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                            it_user886947
                            TSE at Insight Enterprises, Inc.
                            MSP
                            Enables our customers to consolidate everything into a relatively small chassis

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "The advantage is being able to consolidate everything into a relatively small chassis."
                            • "I like the combination of the brands that they decided to include, in terms of its compatibility, e.g., they integrated UCS into this solution."
                            • "I have noticed a lot of customers, they will kick it over the fence. It is FlexPod; it is that mystery animal. The room for improvement is to better present it to those users, so they will not have to be afraid of it."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            Customers use it to consolidate their resources, rather than having a more extravagant and very high-cost center. FlexPod seems to be a simpler, more economical solution and, obviously, it is a lot easier to work on.

                            Our clients will use it for anything from healthcare (a lot of surgical) to major consumer distribution, universities or higher learning institutions. Large customers, like Digital Realty, who do business with smaller companies, all try to get the same type of solution.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            I am from the old school. When FlexPod came out, everybody ran away from it, and went to GDC at Cisco. However, here it is, and it is huge and very convenient. The advantage is being able to consolidate everything into a relatively small chassis.

                            What is most valuable?

                            I like the combination of the brands that they decided to include, in terms of its compatibility, e.g., they integrated UCS into this solution. That is the real advantage: its partnerships.

                            What needs improvement?

                            I look forward to seeing some of the innovations that they come out with for the FlexPod solution. It has been one of those products that I do not criticize it too much. I just look forward to seeing what else is there and the new thing that they are going to come out with. So far, I have been happy with what I have beem seeing.

                            However, for a lot of our customers, the complexity of FlexPod can be a little overwhelming. When I talk to the customers and they stop speaking technically, they start speaking emotionally, that is when I realize, "We need to get back to talking to them about what FlexPod is." It is a term and a partnership. 

                            If there is something wrong on the NetApp side. Let us focus on that. I have noticed a lot of customers, they will kick it over the fence. It is FlexPod; it is that mystery animal. The room for improvement is to better present it to those users, so they will not have to be afraid of it. Once they realize, "This is actually a good product." They will turn around on it and stop trying to run away.

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            It is pretty stable. There are a few tweaks needed. There are a few things that they can always improve on. Altogether, when you are looking at that many different flavors being mixed into the same bowl, it works well. I am happy with that.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            It is definitely scalable. This is a great platform that you can build from. If you need to think about scalability in the future, this is the solution because you can stay small and build it out as you go, as you grow, and stay ahead of the market.

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

                            In terms of selecting a vendor to work with, collaboration is important because the product is the product. It will sell itself. What supports that? Collaboration. This means being able to work with technical support and engineers to deliver a solution for the customer, who does not care about the challenges that we have to face. 

                            The customer just wants the product and that is our goal: To be able to deliver something from behind the "green curtain." If they love it, they buy it, then they want to buy more of it. We have to plan for it and integrate it with our future endeavors. That is what we are all here for.

                            What was our ROI?

                            I have not paid attention to ROI. 

                            As far as the real value, it is a simplistic consolidation where I can actually talk to somebody on the phone, and say, "You should not have to leave the room or go to another floor. This should be laid out like this." 

                            It is very convenient, and that is a good value right there.

                            Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                            Usually, I will find some type of "phoned-in designs". Something they want to call their "FlexPod." There are a lot of imitators out there. There are a lot of guys who will buy some NetApp and Cisco products, etc. Then, they will say, "Let us put this all together." However, FlexPod has something good here. That is why it caught my eye.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            Do not be afraid of it. Roll your sleeves up, and get into it, as it is not that hard. Speak the language, and if you don't, call somebody.

                            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
                            it_user870267
                            It Managed Services Provider at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
                            Real User
                            I can leverage its multiple storage features but it doesn't have much DR capability

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "It provides us with a lot of agility, on-demand or through orchestrations. We deliver hundreds of servers."
                            • "I can leverage its multiple storage abilities. We have various kinds of storage in our environment, like IBM or NetApp. We can mix those types of storage with the FlexPod environment."
                            • "The biggest problem we have seen is, we were using the vStorage which comes with the NetApp environment, a kind of fiber connect. We were missing fibre channel connectivity and we got lots of I/O errors."
                            • "I would like to see more orchestration tools in FlexPod because we virtually end up with integrating the v-orchestration tool within FlexPod. I would like to see something like that included within FlexPod."
                            • "We don't see the much DR capability within the FlexPod so for that, we have to maintain our own DR capability with DSRM."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            The use case is that it is running with multiple applications with VMware, and this a two data-center model, Flexpod, along with NetApp storage. It's quite useful.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            Prior to FlexPod, we only had a physical environment. At that time we decided that we had to go to a 100 percent virtualized environment. From a physical environment, we were able to work into the FlexPod where we leverage all the virtualizations.

                            It provides us with a lot of agility, on-demand or through orchestrations. We deliver hundreds of servers. It has created a lot of agility in this environment.

                            What is most valuable?

                            First of all, it's a converter. It's not dependent on, it's not coming with specific storage. I can leverage its multiple storage abilities. We have various kinds of storage in our environment, like IBM or NetApp. We can mix those types of storage with the FlexPod environment.

                            What needs improvement?

                            The biggest problem we have seen is, we were using the vStorage which comes with the NetApp environment, a kind of fiber connect. We were missing fibre channel connectivity and we got lots of I/O errors. This is the one big problem we have faced with FlexPod.

                            I would like to see more orchestration tools in FlexPod because we virtually end up with integrating the v-orchestration tool within FlexPod. I would like to see something like that included within FlexPod.

                            We don't see the much DR capability within the FlexPod so for that, we have to maintain our own DR capability with DSRM.

                            For how long have I used the solution?

                            More than five years.

                            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                            FlexPod is pretty stable. It has worked in this environment for more than five, six years and still, for the next four to five years, there will be some piece of the FlexPod here. It's pretty stable.

                            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                            There is a scalability issue with the FlexPod in terms of scale out. We always have to go and procure this piece in the data center. We always have to order a new piece of equipment for the FlexPod. That increases the cost.

                            How are customer service and technical support?

                            We have professional support. They are pretty responsive and they support us.

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

                            We switched because of the virtualization. We were a completely physical environment and we wanted to go to a virtual environment. That is the reason we went with FlexPod.

                            Regarding our most important criteria when selecting a vendor, this is a very big organization and there are multiple vendors. So it's all about the partnership. In this organization, we choose the vendor at the very beginning for three years or five years and go with the long term.

                            How was the initial setup?

                            Although I was not involved in the initial setup, I saw when we were moving from physical to virtual that it was pretty smooth. The initial challenge was the configuration within the data center. But I don't think it was a technical challenge.

                            Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                            Right now the Cisco is there. This is a Cisco shop and an IBM shop too.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            I would rate FlexPod as a seven out of 10 because it has gone through a long journey in our organization and we have had pretty good support. The FlexPod environment still exists and, according to the roadmap, it will go to 2020.

                            In terms of advice, this is all about converged and hyper-converged. If you are looking to convert your environment, then I would definitely suggest going with the FlexPod.

                            Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                            it_user319338
                            Director of Innovation at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
                            Consultant
                            FlexClone allows you to create copies of volumes quickly, without using physical space

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "Centralized administration with Cisco UCS Director allows you to perform all administrative functions from a single interface, as well as automate tasks."
                            • "UCS Profiles enable recovering a physical server in less than 15 minutes."
                            • "FlexClone allows you to create copies of volumes in seconds, and without occupying physical space."
                            • "Perhaps the automation interface could be improved."

                            What is our primary use case?

                            In our facilities we use FlexPod to host business applications: bpm'online (our tool for the help desk), SugarCRM, Microsoft Exchange Server, Cisco CallManager, some applications related to telephony and collaboration, and for demonstrations of our solution.

                            How has it helped my organization?

                            On some occasions, when we have needed virtual machines to install new applications, the administrator has provided them in a matter of minutes. Similarly, we have created virtual desktops for environments of 50-100 users in minutes. Finally, the integration with VMware NSX has allowed us to recover from a failure of the main site in a matter of minutes.

                            What is most valuable?

                            • Centralized administration with Cisco UCS Director allows you to perform all administrative functions from a single interface, as well as automate tasks.
                            • UCS Profiles enable recovering a physical server in less than 15 minutes.
                            • FlexClone allows you to create copies of volumes in seconds, and without occupying physical space.

                            What needs improvement?

                            At the moment I do not find any functionality that could improve, other than perhaps the automation interface.

                            For how long have I used the solution?

                            Three to five years.

                            What other advice do I have?

                            I consider this solution a 10 out of 10. It is a very complete solution and easy to administer.

                            Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                            it_user865491
                            Senior Storage Analyst at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
                            Consultant
                            Enables us to map a storage LUN onto an ESX cluster, but backup requirements need clarification

                            Pros and Cons

                            • "It is a very well-thought-out solution with great virtualization. A good option we have is mapping a storage LUN onto an ESX cluster. That way, in case a particular ESX is down, it can migrate (using vMotion) to another host in the cluster, resulting in high-availability."
                            • "The ability to create vDisks on NFS exports is an added advantage. This is very helpful when we reach RDM limit."

                              What is our primary use case?

                              I am working on a FlexPod environment, though it is not the exact FlexPod box from NetApp. Our environment is custom made, resembling FlexPod with UCS chassis, NetApp storage, and Cisco MDS. We have five HA pairs and a MetroCluster, along with Cisco MDS in front and Brocade as back-end switches (for MetroCluster).

                              What is most valuable?

                              It is a very well-thought-out solution with great virtualization. A good option we have is mapping a storage LUN onto an ESX cluster. That way, in case a particular ESX is down, it can migrate (using vMotion) to another host in the cluster, resulting in high-availability.

                              The ability to create vDisks on NFS exports is an added advantage. This is very helpful when we reach RDM limit.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Currently, the only issue we have is with our backup solution. We have SnapProtect from NetApp as our backup tool. While taking VM backups, SnapProtect’s requirements say that all VMDKs should be on the same datastore, but from the VMware perspective, all VMDKs should be spread out. This is an ambiguity that we have in our environment.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Less than one year.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              The solution is really good but with 7-Mode I would rate it at seven out of 10. With NetApp  Cluster Mode the rating is higher.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user865494
                              Associate at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
                              Consultant
                              Helps us run VMware Horizon View and standalone workloads

                              What is our primary use case?

                              The key features and functionalities of NetApp FlexPod that the company uses run: VMware Horizon View standalone workloads. The environment is NetApp Controller FAS8040, Cisco Nexus switches (5000/7000/9000) and Cisco UCS Server with fabric interconnect.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              A single FlexPod can support a load of 2,000 - 5,000 employees without downtime.

                              What is most valuable?

                              SolidFire all-flash block storage in an existing FlexPod data center environment. This improves the agility and performance, including the additional load of cabling.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Support for multiple vendors' hardware Support for SAN with Cisco 9000 switches Automated deployment and configuration with respect to CVD

                              For how long have I used

                              What is our primary use case?

                              The key features and functionalities of NetApp FlexPod that the company uses run:

                              1. VMware Horizon View
                              2. standalone workloads.

                              The environment is NetApp Controller FAS8040, Cisco Nexus switches (5000/7000/9000) and Cisco UCS Server with fabric interconnect.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              A single FlexPod can support a load of 2,000 - 5,000 employees without downtime.

                              What is most valuable?

                              SolidFire all-flash block storage in an existing FlexPod data center environment. This improves the agility and performance, including the additional load of cabling.

                              What needs improvement?

                              • Support for multiple vendors' hardware
                              • Support for SAN with Cisco 9000 switches
                              • Automated deployment and configuration with respect to CVD

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Three to five years.
                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user252573
                              Information Technology Architect and Business Consultant
                              Vendor
                              Provides us with flexibility, everything is fully configurable

                              Pros and Cons

                              • "Software flexibility. Everything is fully configurable. The reliability results from the design. Elements are well projected (disks, blade, network, etc.). No single point of failure is identifiable."
                              • "FlexPod was born to be used like building-block elements, to create large EDP premises. If used to create a single FlexPod CED, optional operational collaterals (backup, management, etc.) are missing, both in docs and in design."

                              What is our primary use case?

                              My use case was a small FlexPod architecture (seven Cisco B-Series Blades, a FAS8200 in CDOT, two Cisco Nexus switches). One rack. We used Cisco 3xxx switches. Six profiles were defined so six blades were running and one was a spare.

                              On top of the infrastructure we used Oracle Hypervisor (OVM); the VMs were based on Oracle Linux. On top the virtual machines we hosted Oracle Database (pinned, to reduce license costs) or applications.

                              So two levels of flexibility per DR were activated: one based on profiles and one based on the hypervisor.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              The customer added the FlexPod-based solution to a real-time system to improve their overall system with a new analytics environment.

                              What is most valuable?

                              • Software flexibility. Everything is fully configurable. 
                              • The reliability results from the design. Elements are well projected (disks, blade, network, etc.).
                              • No single point of failure is identifiable.

                              What needs improvement?

                              FlexPod was born to be used like building-block elements, to create large EDP premises. If used to create a single FlexPod CED, optional operational collaterals (backup, management, etc.) are missing, both in docs and in design.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              One to three years.
                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user862512
                              Private Cloud Infrastructure Manager at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
                              Real User
                              Provides ease of automation. ​Newer platform reference architectures take a long time to harden.​

                              What is our primary use case?

                              Company-wide production and development of private cloud infrastructure.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Scale up/down CD/CI pipeline Development environments scale up/down

                              What is most valuable?

                              Converged infrastructure Engineered Reference Architecture Continued evolution of the architecture Manpower savings Ease of automation

                              What needs improvement?

                              Newer platform reference architectures take a long time to harden and be publicly available.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              More than five years.

                              What is our primary use case?

                              Company-wide production and development of private cloud infrastructure.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              • Scale up/down
                              • CD/CI pipeline
                              • Development environments scale up/down

                              What is most valuable?

                              • Converged infrastructure
                              • Engineered Reference Architecture
                              • Continued evolution of the architecture
                              • Manpower savings
                              • Ease of automation

                              What needs improvement?

                              Newer platform reference architectures take a long time to harden and be publicly available.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              More than five years.
                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              ITCS user
                              PMO Manager at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
                              Real User
                              The solution was simple to deploy, but we faced challenges with replication between the primary and secondary site

                              Pros and Cons

                              • "The solution was simple to deploy."
                              • "Compatibility issues with replication. The Oracle table formats were not working and storage replications did not work as well, until we had to introduce other components to make it work."

                              What is our primary use case?

                              I used the solution as disaster recovery (DR) for backing up the IBM Power series infrastructure. The primary site is running our core application, which is based on Java and Oracle databases installed on a SUSE Linux environment.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              The solution was simple to deploy, but we faced challenges with replication between the primary site and secondary site.

                              What is most valuable?

                              The fact that all the components were integrated, and its simplicity to deploy. The deployment took less than a week since there was no networking and/or storage integration.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Compatibility issues with replication. The Oracle table formats were not working and storage replications did not work as well, until we had to introduce other components to make it work. This is a good solution, but only if its on both the DR and DC for replication compatibility.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Less than one year.
                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user527184
                              Solution Architect at Thin Technologies
                              Vendor
                              Validated architecture means, once in place, they can use the platform within a day

                              What is most valuable?

                              • It's a validated architecture, so it's fairly simple to implement.
                              • The support is unified, so troubleshooting becomes less complicated. 
                              • It's very easy to expand the solution for performance and capacity growth.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Turnkey. When we put the solution in place, they're able to use the platform within a day of us being complete. It's very quick to implement.

                              What needs improvement?

                              From its prime competitor, seeing some sort of an architecture around cloud built into the solution would be great, whether that's UCS Director or vRealize Automation, something that's got a validated architecture that's ready to go for that solution would be useful.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Because it's all based off of mature hardware with UCS and NetApp and Cisco across the board, it's a very stable platform, it's very quick. There are always little things that we can improve here and there, and configuration changes depending on what the customer is doing. But for the most part, it's a very fast solution and simple to work with.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              There are configuration maximums of each platform. I've yet to see an environment that we've hit those numbers on yet, but with the technologies that NetApp is releasing with All Flash, and the new blades from Cisco, we keep getting ahead of any kind of limits with technology advances.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              Most technical support issues that we have with the solution as a whole are usually around specific components, a failed drive or a bad blade; generally equipment that hasn't been burned in yet so it's dead-on-arrival, and we don't know it until we get it set up. Generally, we've had pretty good luck with such equipment getting turned around pretty quickly, so we can leave the site with everything fully functional.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I'm involved in most processes from scoping the solution and design through implementation and sometimes support.

                              Setup for Flexpod is pretty much cut and dry. Our methodology leverages the configuration worksheets that Cisco and NetApp have put together. We have those pre-filled and vetted by the client before we arrive on site. When we get on site it's a very procedural-based implementation. The unknowns are generally limited to a handful of items and we can work through those pretty quickly. The setup is very simple, and very scripted.

                              Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                              The major competitors are probably EMC with Vblock, and Nutanix is bringing up competition pretty quickly, and their solution is less expensive to get in on entry-wise, so that's a real competition point.

                              The advantage of FlexPod, specifically against Nutanix, is that we we can expand any single component of the solution without having to expand the entire solution. So if we want to add disk or add blades, compute nodes, we don't have to add everything at once. Incremental expansion is less costly. Additionally, NetApp is a more mature company in general - as are Cisco and VMware - than Nutanix is, so their future is fairly well set, where Nutanix's future is still relatively uncertain. That's not due to product reliability issues, but just due to market acceptance and maturity as a company.

                              Over EMC, EMC's products are generally more complicated to use and less robust overall. With their ever-changing landscape of ownership and acquisitions and leadership challenges, it's tough to say where their products are going to land the next few years.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              Don't just buy the solution that your sales guy is trying to sell you. Understand what your needs are, understand what your I/O requirements and capacity requirements are, and leverage the sales team's engineers to truly devise the solution that you're going to actually take advantage of. 

                              Don't get caught up in price, initially. The sales teams can always work on price. Focus on what the solution is going to do for you, and is it actually going to meet your needs. Then deal with price after that.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              ITCS user
                              Team Leader – Storage & Security at CoreLogic RP Data
                              Consultant
                              Validated design means that it's supportable by both NetApp and Cisco

                              What is most valuable?

                              The validated design is a huge bit. It means that it's supportable by both NetApp and Cisco, and that means that we're doing it the industry best-practice way.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              The benefit is certainly that it's compartmental. You can build a FlexPod for a small installation, you can build it for a big one. You can build a small one and grow it. It's flexible in that regard. It gives you the design and the structure to be able to expand as you need.

                              What needs improvement?

                              As a point solution, it does absolutely what it should. I'm not sure it needs any more.

                              Make it cheaper.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About three years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It's great. Very stable. Nothing to complain about, so that's good.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              We've engaged technical support somewhat, mainly during the configuration stage.

                              As I said, you've got the FlexPod system, gives you access to Cisco and NetApp support, and they'll run it through; so whichever one you're more comfortable with. My networking guys will log stuff with Cisco, and the storage guys will log stuff with NetApp, and they're happy using that support.

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

                              FlexPod is more about the way that the pod is build. We've probably used all the individual components before but never put it together. The validated design was the big thing for us.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              It's fairly straightforward. It's listed out for you, so you just follow the bouncing ball around, essentially.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We're a data analyst company, looking after property data. I'm not sure this product is uniquely valuable for our industry. It certainly has some value, especially in the mergers and acquisitions space where we need to stand up some infrastructure that matches ours in a newer environment, and be able to have that standard.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750741
                              Storage Consultant at Long View Systems
                              MSP
                              Pre-validated NetApp/Cisco infrastructure alleviates a lot of the design and testing; it works "out of the box"

                              What is most valuable?

                              It's a validated infrastructure, meaning that they're pre-validated. Cisco and NetApp have come together to essentially pre-validate against certain use cases. So a lot of the legwork and design have been eliminated.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Because all the testing and all the validation has been pre-done, a lot of that legwork does not need to be done at the user level. You can deploy faster. A lot of the solution is pre-validated, meaning that it just works out of the box.

                              What needs improvement?

                              They've just recently announced the SolidFire integration, which I think is pretty cool. We don't have any experience with that yet, but I'd like to see more details come out of that.

                              I don't think any solution is perfect, there are always little squeaky wheels that can be tuned, but the product works very well. It's not a perfect solution because, obviously, it doesn't always fit everybody, there are unique requirements that people have.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              We've been using it more than five years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Stability, I think it works really well.

                              We've had some issues where, the customer didn't necessarily know what their workload was, so they didn't necessarily know what kind of FlexPod solution they needed. But, for the most part, it works well.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It scales well. Obviously, with cluster-mode and ONTAP, you can scale nodes pretty much to what you need it to be.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              I've used the FlexPod support. Cisco will take ownership of that and run with it. I can get through to the right person and they're knowledgeable, absolutely.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              My industry is IT consulting, so my company has a lot of clients that are in various verticals. It can be healthcare, it can be education, so depending on what vertical they're in, they'll have a requirement to have a certain converged solution that they know that will work.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user527259
                              Director Of IT Infrastructure at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
                              Vendor
                              We can configure our compute and manage our storage, all from a single pane of glass, and it makes it easier on management

                              What is most valuable?

                              • Ease of use
                              • Safety
                              • Total cost of ownership
                              • Return on investment
                              • Cutting your sysadmin's time in half
                              • The single pane of glass: Where you can configure your compute and manage your storage, all from a single pane of glass, and it makes it easier on management.

                              Also, the 1-800 number to call for support across the multiple parts of the FlexPod. So, FlexPod is basically a joint venture between Cisco, VMware and NetApp. You call the 1-800 number and you get supported throughout the stacks.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Total cost of ownership (TCO) is key. The other things are the sysadmin's time is approximately cut in half: managing servers, building servers, deployment, and automation.

                              It is uniquely valuable for a company in the financial services industry. It is critical for us to use the latest and greatest in technology to have that edge against competitors in our marketplace.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Add more automation into the Cisco UCS firmware upgrade process to make it more streamlined than it is today.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              I have been using FlexPod since 2012.

                              What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

                              We have had a few deployments of FlexPod, one for production and one for the disaster recovery (DR) sites, and we have been happy with it so far.

                              If you do not take the time to learn the technology before deploying it, you are not going to be able to deploy it as smooth and as fast.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It is very stable. We have had it since 2012, and we have not had major issues with it. As long as you know what you do and you schedule your patching, following the processes that you have in place. You will have minor issues with it.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It scales out really well. If you need compute, all you need to do, just add more blades into your chassis. If you run out of chassis, you can just add more chassis, then you can add more blades. Same thing with the storage on the back-end, you can add more storage shelves, whether it is SSD, SAS, or All Flash.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              We have definitely used the tech support on multiple occasions, like with firmware upgrades, to get their opinion, and regarding interoperability matrices for the different products. If you upgrade the firmware for the CISCO UCS, you need to ensure the firmware version that you are upgrading to is going to work with your VMware vSphere and with the NetApp ONTAP software OS.

                              They are knowledgeable and we get through to the right people.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. It is straightforward if you understand the technology and how it works. If you are new to the technology, you will require some training for your people and your team.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750831
                              Infrastructure Architect at a financial services firm
                              Vendor
                              We like the simplicity of an all-in-one solution

                              What is most valuable?

                              The simplicity of having an all-in-one solution.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Simplicity.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Make it cheaper.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About six to eight months.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It's very good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It's very good as well.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              We haven't used it.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I wasn't involved in it.

                              Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                              We went out to tender.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We're in finance. I don't know if this solution is uniquely valuable in our industry but it works for us. It's not perfect but it does what we expected. We haven't had any…

                              What is most valuable?

                              The simplicity of having an all-in-one solution.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Simplicity.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Make it cheaper.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About six to eight months.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It's very good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It's very good as well.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              We haven't used it.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I wasn't involved in it.

                              Which other solutions did I evaluate?

                              We went out to tender.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We're in finance. I don't know if this solution is uniquely valuable in our industry but it works for us. It's not perfect but it does what we expected. We haven't had any problems at all.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750819
                              Bdm at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
                              Reseller
                              Simple, very scalable solution, vertically and horizontally, with excellent integration to Cisco

                              What is most valuable?

                              • The simplicity
                              • It's really scalable
                              • The integration with Cisco and NetApp is perfect

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Since the customer had Cisco, he was really into Cisco, all the gear was Cisco, the network, the security, etc. It was easier to show UCS and Nexus and then to attach a NetApp storage. I can say that since we have a lot of Cisco clients, Flexpod is really valuable, because they are used to Cisco and it's easier to position NetApp.

                              What needs improvement?

                              I know about NetApp, not Cisco. So I don't know what's going on in the next release. But for NetApp, I expect with 9.3 coming out, a lot of features, more improvement of the data usage.

                              The memory, that you can enable flash to even increase your performance. So this will SCM.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Stability is really nice. The support of both NetApp and Cisco, the unified support, is really good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              The scalability is really good because it's not a silo. You can expand both storage-wise or network-wise or even servers, and if we pick another convergent infrastructure, it's difficult or they are locked. So you can scale either way, either vertically or horizontally.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              When we are positioning against a cheaper solution it's really difficult to sell NetApp to our small customers, so it's really difficult to position. The customer has to see a lot of value. Once we have medium and bigger customers, it's really easy to position and it's perfect.

                              Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
                              it_user750810
                              Consultant at a tech services company
                              Consultant
                              If a blade fails you just add a new one, SAN booter, and pop in an SD card and it's up; great flexibility

                              What is most valuable?

                              You've got flexibility within it. It's all profile driven.

                              And the personalities of the blades within the solution. One could fail, you just pop a new one in and you have SAN booter, you have SD cards that you can just pop right in and it's back up and running. I like the redundancy that you get with that.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It's usually a great fit for most customers, depending on the size obviously. I just feel like it's one of those golden bullets in a lot of cases, to just get something on the ground with them and to have something that they're happy with long term.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About five years now.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It's great. Haven't had any problems with it. I mean, sure there are bugs like anything else, but it's always been solid.

                              With any software release you're going to have false alarms and you're going to have some failures that you have to upgrade to resolve, but they're usually few and far between, which is great.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It's really scalable. UCS domains, you can just continue adding more if you need to. It's all based on how many you can plug into a set of fabric interconnects, so it's very scalable.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              I've had to use tech a lot but it's always been really great. Sometimes there are some language barriers but it's always good.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              It's solid compared to everything else I see out there. All these other server manufacturers don't quite have the same level of integration that the Cisco has with this product. I really do like how Cisco has pulled it all together compared to, say, Dell or any of the other manufacturers. It's just much more simple for me to work with, and eventually to customers, it's a great hand-off when it's time to leave.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750768
                              Principal Storage Engineer at Digital River
                              Consultant
                              Easy to configure, quick to deploy, and easy to train new users

                              What is most valuable?

                              Ease of configuration  Ease of training for whoever is going to be using it

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Deployment time is probably one of the biggest ones. You can get it set up and start using it in a quick manner.

                              What needs improvement?

                              I think it could be a little bit more flexible and if they found a way to implement more of a supported cloud solution to it, I think that could help a lot.  Then there's things like AltaVault which, if there was a way to have that as a shipped feature with it, could be useful as well.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Six or seven years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Solid. Very good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              Pretty good. I think there is…

                              What is most valuable?

                              • Ease of configuration 
                              • Ease of training for whoever is going to be using it

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              Deployment time is probably one of the biggest ones. You can get it set up and start using it in a quick manner.

                              What needs improvement?

                              I think it could be a little bit more flexible and if they found a way to implement more of a supported cloud solution to it, I think that could help a lot. 

                              Then there's things like AltaVault which, if there was a way to have that as a shipped feature with it, could be useful as well.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Six or seven years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Solid. Very good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              Pretty good. I think there is some room for improvement. It depends on how big of a company you're at, but we outgrew some of the solutions that we had installed and then we ended up having to custom-build a different solution.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750738
                              Principal Analyst at Muscogee Creek Nation Casinos
                              Vendor
                              It has allowed us to expand our DR and backup strategies

                              What is most valuable?

                              • Ease of use
                              • Easy expandability
                              • They're quick to respond.

                              We haven't had a single problem with it yet.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It has improved the way our organization functions tenfold. We can deploy servers, storage, and everything else quickly. When we need to expand, we can do that quickly as well. It's just easier all around.

                              It has helped us grow. As our casinos grow, it has helped us expand and add the storage and everything which we need. It has given us the performance and stability that we need for applications, and it has allowed us to expand our Disaster Recovery (DR) and backup strategies.

                              What needs improvement?

                              I would like to see a little bit more monitoring. OnCommand Unified Manager is great. It just kind of gives you a really good high-level overview. So, I would like to see a little more detail.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              We have had it for six years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Extremely stable. We haven't had a single problem. It has never gone down. Our upgrades are within an hour, so our uptime is incredible.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              Scalability is also extremely easy. In fact, right now, we're looking at HCI for its scalability as well. I don't see another product out there that's as scalable as NetApp.

                              We've just started adding additional heads for clusters. We went to cluster mode last year. So, we've added in some cluster switches, and we've started scaling out.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              We have used them, but very rarely. When we do use them, they have always been really quick to respond. Getting knowledgeable people on the phone pretty quickly. It doesn't seem like you ever have to go through so many hoops just to trying to diagnose a problem. It's been extremely valuable.

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

                              We didn't have any centralized storage at all. When we purchased it originally, it was all to expand and growth, and everything else. NetApp was our vendor of choice.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. It was pretty straightforward. Since then, we've swapped our controllers, and all that has been pretty straightforward. We have not had any problems with it being too complex.

                              What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                              The price point is pretty competitive. I'm pretty happy with where the price is right now, but it can always be cheaper!

                              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                              it_user750783
                              Group Leader at a consultancy
                              Consultant
                              It has made it easier to deploy new virtual machines

                              What is most valuable?

                              It is versatile, and the profiles and things that you can create with it are good to work with and make it easy to replace the hardware.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It has made it easier to deploy new virtual machines. We use it for our virtual machine environment. Before, it was a lot just having to get the hardware ready. Now that the FlexPod solutions are built up, they make it a lot easier as far as networking.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Easier integration from the beginning, which they have put improvements in as far as setting it up. It was just a large learning curve for us at first.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Probably two to three years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              Once we got implemented, it was very stable.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It should scale out based on what I've seen.

                              We haven't had to scale out yet. We have fairly small environments, but many of them and they are all separated. But based on the solution, I think we could scale it more if we needed to easily.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              I have used it from the storage site, from the NetApp side, and also from the Cisco side. I contacted either vendor.

                              At times it's difficult to get to the right person, but eventually, depending on how far you push, you can get to the right person. Once I reach the right person, they are knowledgeable. Generally, my experience working with tech support is fine.

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

                              We were on a platform, which we thought didn't have a long life from another vendor.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. It was pretty complex.

                              There is a steep learning curve on the Cisco side to set up profiles.

                              What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                              I had pricing from separate vendors. I got storage from NetApp and Cisco Blade Servers, so I don't know. I didn't buy it as a package, so it's hard to say.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We bought the Cisco and the NetApp separately and integrated them ourselves, so that probably made it a little more difficult. But we followed all the guidelines that were published from both Cisco and NetApp regarding how to put them together. Now, it is sold as an already built together package, which probably would make it easier.

                              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                              it_user750837
                              Server Architect at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
                              Vendor
                              We were able to get everything up and running very quickly without having to consult with multiple teams across the IT infrastructure

                              What is most valuable?

                              • The central point of management
                              • The centralized management of the storage and the compute

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              • Improved functionality
                              • Speeds up deployment time.

                              The product is uniquely valuable because we were able to get everything up and running very quickly without having to consult with multiple teams across the IT infrastructure.

                              What needs improvement?

                              When we initially installed it, the automation piece really wasn't available. Maybe in a future release, if automation was built into the product that would be good.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Three years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              The stability is very good.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              The scalability is very good.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              We used technical support for the initial install. They were good, knowledgeable, and helped us get answers quickly. We were able to reach the right person quickly.

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

                              The original project was no longer needed, so we took it apart, and repurposed the components.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. I found it to be very easy.

                              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                              it_user318444
                              Advisory Engineer at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees
                              Vendor
                              ​Makes our configurations more consistent and easier to troubleshoot

                              What is most valuable?

                              Fully-supported end-to-end architecture using the compatibility matrices around it.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It makes our configurations more consistent and easier to troubleshoot.

                              The product is uniquely valuable for the industry because we've had some experience with a competing solution from another storage vending solution, and it was not nearly as stable.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Better integration with other vendors that are involved in the FlexPod solution, like Cisco.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About five years now.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It is very stable.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              Five years ago, it was very scalable. Now, the technology has changed so much in the last five years, it's not the most scalable solution out there.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              I have used technical support. It's very good. They were knowledgeable.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. It was straightforward.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We invested in this solution because we were trying to lower our costs and improve the time to implement and upgrade.

                              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                              it_user750858
                              Senior Systems Administrator at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
                              Consultant
                              Seems very scalable as we have had to scale out. We have actually doubled in size.

                              What is most valuable?

                              Simplicity.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It has allowed us to scale out a bit more.

                              It is a uniquely valuable product to our company, because it allows us to easily put a product in there as a whole solution without going out and purchasing different pieces.

                              What needs improvement?

                              We really haven't had any issues or problems out of it. We do feel with the whole FlexPod solution that we were actually sold more than we needed as far as extra parts. We just did a lift in shift of one of our FlexPods to a new datacenter, and instead of using the 5000 series switch, we went straight for the 7000. We didn't really need the 5000 series switches in the first place. 

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Two years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It's fairly stable. We have not had downtime because of the solution, but because of the software, VDI.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It seems very scalable. We have had to scale out. We have actually doubled in size.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup. At the time, it seemed complex, because we had never done it before, but as I look back on it, it was pretty straightforward.

                              What about the implementation team?

                              For installation, we used CDW's professional services. It was a learning experience for all of us. We actually helped them install it, so it was actually our first iteration FlexPod and it helped us actually get up to speed on it.

                              What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

                              I wasn't involved in this.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              We invested in FlexPod because we were setting up a VDI environment. 

                              Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
                              it_user750687
                              Storage Engineer at a financial services firm
                              Vendor
                              It cuts down on the time needed to provision anything

                              What is most valuable?

                              The automatic revisioning via the ability to provision through a single interface and touch all the components along with it. That really helps us to spin up things like test apps, DevOps, and all that stuff in one interface.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It cuts down on the time needed to provision anything. So if a business unit says, "Hey, I need this, because I need to do analysis on this portfolio that I'm going to buy", or "Are these customers going to pay?" We can provision things very quickly and they can get to work on making money.

                              It's uniquely valuable because the hyper-converge (buzzword) has taken over right now, but our converged infrastructure, even though it's three or four years old, is still doing everything we need it to do.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Maybe some of the graphical interfaces could be a little more user-friendly from the Cisco side of things.

                              I'm interested to see how the Converged System Manager comes out. It allows you to see all the components in a single graphical interface. Right now, we have to go to a couple different ones to see everything. We can execute scripts in the background against everything, but it would be nice to see a picture. That way we can give that to the executives, and say "Here, check out this cool thing we have." They probably don't understand it all.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              The company was using it before I got there. I have been there for about four years, so at least four years.

                              I started working on NetApp products in 2008.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              We haven't had any downtime in four years. I don't have any problems at all with the stability.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              There are some upper limits that we're never gonna reach. I don't have any concerns about scalability or increasing it.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              We have used it that much. Of course we have used some of it, but most of it is for a failed hardware or something like. We haven't had any major bugs.

                              We've never had any issues with tech support. So I would say we're very well-supported and satisfied with the way they do things.

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

                              The previous solution was physical servers with a storage so everything was separate, administered separately, and they decided "Hey, let's go with this FlexPod to size everything together with unified support and unified products." So that's why they chose it, to slim things down, but at the same time, to gain some functionality that maybe they didn't have before.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              The initial setup predates me.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750648
                              It Infrastructure Manager at a manufacturing company with 501-1,000 employees
                              Vendor
                              It let us not worry about the minutiae of the configuration

                              What is most valuable?

                              It's an all-in-one validated design. We don't have to worry about making sure that thing A supports thing B. It's all top-down, integrated, and validated, which means for us, it's going to just work.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It let us not worry about the minutiae of the configuration, and instead worry about how we put systems and applications online and the maintenance to build a new environment.

                              It uniquely valuable because it's leveraging first-party products and services. Systems, which we already would use, now they are all integrated with each other, so we don't have to worry about going out into the market and finding those components separately, then making sure that they work together the way we need.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Surprise me with something I haven't thought of.

                              Maybe it's out-of-the-box and can configure itself. Something that's beyond the simplicity that I already think is there. Abstract away some of the technical details of setting it up, so you don't need the experience of an engineer to come in and do the work.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              About four months.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              The stability is fine so far. It's solid. It's a rock.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              The scalability is fine.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              Technical support is a non-issue. That's another advantage with FlexPod, in particular, is it's one single endpoint for support. We don't have to call around and there's no finger-pointing between organizations.

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

                              Our old solution was outdated, old, and out of support. We were at our hardware refresh point of three to five years.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup and it was straightforward.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750624
                              Manager Infrastructure Services at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
                              Vendor
                              We've had to expand the storage infrastructure a few times and had no issues

                              What is most valuable?

                              The integration between Cisco and NetApp was quite key for us, and the VMware as well. The whole FlexPod stack is pretty key to that.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              We are using FlexClone to clone our production environments into Dev and UAT. We used to take a week per environment to do this, now we can get it done in a couple of days per environment.

                              It is uniquely valuable, because we haven't seen any other vendors in the market who are doing something similar to what the FlexClone technology is doing.

                              What needs improvement?

                              We've had a few technical problems, if those weren't present, then it would probably be perfect.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              Two and a half years.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              It is very stable. We've been running it for the last two and a half years in our production and DR sites, and we haven't had any issues whatsoever.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              It is very scalable. We've had to expand the storage infrastructure a few times, and have had no problems with scaling it out.

                              How are customer service and technical support?

                              I have used NetApp technical support. The first level is probably pretty average. As soon as you escalate above the first level and you start speaking to the second and the third levels, then the support becomes very good.

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

                              We spoke to NetApp, because one of our biggest concerns that we had was cloning our environments. We had to have identical replicas of our production environments in Dev and UAT, and the flexible solution was the best option for us at that point.

                              What about the implementation team?

                              We contracted through a third party to do the initial setup.

                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750825
                              Storage Administrator at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
                              Real User
                              It's superior compared to any other blade type system, but needs to improve its usability

                              What is most valuable?

                              My favorite part is the storage side, allocating the storage, it's very easy. The WWNs, you got the virtual WWNs. It's a little different from physical servers. I like that it's pretty easy to provision storage.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              From a user perspective, they have no issues.

                              As far as my role and what I do (my duties), it's easy. They are able to see their storage immediately, they don't have any problems with connectivity issues like you'll see on a physical server compared to a blade implementation.

                              What needs improvement?

                              Usability: It's a little bit convoluted. It'd be nice if they had it pretty straightforward. If it was a straightforward out-of-the-box configuration and could operate out of the box, that would be nice.

                              Ease to work with.

                              For how long have I used the solution?

                              It's been six months, since it was implemented. Currently, we provide the back-end storage to the FlexPod.

                              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

                              So far, very stable. So far, it is okay.

                              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

                              Scalability is pretty good. You can extend it out, extend out storage as well your guest systems. Yes, it is not a problem.

                              How is customer service and technical support?

                              I have not used technical support for either FlexPod or Cisco.

                              How was the initial setup?

                              I was involved in the initial setup for the storage piece and it was complex. As far as the design, FlexPod is a complex piece of equipment. You just can't read a book and be ready to get it operational. You have to go through professional services that have some experience with it.

                              What other advice do I have?

                              Do a little research, find out if the business case applies to them, how they could leverage it, and if it's something they could leverage in their environment. Get a PoC, that's another thing. Definitely get a POC for the product to determine if it's good for them.

                              Most important criteria when selecting a vendor:

                              • Stability, after the product is implemented into an environment.
                              • Scalability
                              • Responsiveness to certain type of issues.
                              Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
                              it_user750828
                              Senior Cloud Systems Engineer at Alarm.Com
                              Real User
                              Everything is built with doubles and has double paths, so it's highly redundant

                              Pros and Cons

                              • "The ease at which it scales and its redundancy factors. It's extremely redundant and easy-to-scale."
                              • "There are certain things that are just hard to do on a physical infrastructure, like for instance you need to make petabytes of data available at high speed."

                              What is most valuable?

                              The ease at which it scales and its redundancy factors. It's extremely redundant and easy-to-scale.

                              The software integration, the APIs, are really good. Because everything is going to such a hybrid world, it's better to push things through software than it is to do it manually. The more that they're making the commands the same in your cloud solution versus your private solution is great. It's making our lives a lot easier.

                              How has it helped my organization?

                              It's very quick. It's very fast. Because it's so highly-scalable and redundant, it's easy to buy new products and scale up quickly onto business demands and needs.

                              As far as data center technologies or blueprints, it's pretty high up there. But FlexPod has the ability to grow with your company and it has the ability to provide many solutions, and we have yet to find a problem that we haven't been able to solve with our infrastructure. It's been great.

                              What needs improvement?

                              There are certain things that are just hard to do on a physical infrastructure, like for instance you need to make petabytes of data available at high speed. That's really hard to do in private data centers. I'm not really sure how they could do that without making direct links between them, or something.

                              They can try, but I think really the hardware just needs to get better. I don't know there's a lot they can do about that, other than just let time pass. They already do a great job. There's just certain things that are made better for the cloud as opposed to a private data center, and I'm not sure they can really fix those until the hardware gets better.

                              They're already doing things that I would like, especially on the Cisco sid