Please share with the community what you think needs improvement with FlexPod.
What are its weaknesses? What would you like to see changed in a future version?
If they could reduce some of the complexity at the system manager level for ONTAP. I find it gives a lot of flexibility. You can do as much or as little as you want. But to be able to do as little as you want, you do have to do a lot. So, if they could bring that down to a more manageable effort level, that would be nice and simplify it a bit.
FlexPod can improve with a single control management interface to manage all aspects and components of the solution.
There is always room for improvement. I believe we can do hot swaps on the fly. On the release upgrades, if there was a way to do a release on the fly, that would really be cool because it does take some downtime. It takes restarting. It is more of a software thing. Customers hate doing releases. An area for improvement would be on Level 2 and 3 support when there is a release issue.
Hyper-V is not as well supported by NetApp and Cisco as VMware is, which is something that should be improved.
The solution has not reduced our data center costs.
It hasn't changed the application performance in our company but obviously the new hardware gives it the performance increase. Overall nothing more changed. I would like to have the installation of the top virtualization on its own rather than doing it through the admin. For example, if FlexPod is configured after the configuration of the host, the ESXi is installed also, but it should be part of it rather than doing it as a separate system.
Something that we struggle with because we're a relatively small scale organization and the administrative effort is spread across so many different pieces of infrastructure, it would be nice to have a set of tools that enables us to get a little bit more information out of our system. Right now we're in the process of looking at OCI. We have free trial licenses for a two year period and we're investing quite a bit of time into writing reports and allowing it to tell us more information about our systems because we don't have a lot of time and we don't have a lot of sexy tools out there to give us information. We're going to go through this exercise with OCI, but at some point, that tool's going to go away and we may not have the funding to keep it on-premises. There are metrics and there's information in the system that a normal consumer like ourselves, a smaller organization, would probably not be privy to that information. It would be nice if some of those reporting capabilities were available just as a part of the ordinary suite of software that people buy.
It hasn't saved us CapEx.
This is an expensive solution.
I would like to see the FlexPod infrastructure get updated more often. Things like the firmware, the software packages, and the compatibility matrix have to update more often and seem to lag in development. We are kind of dragging on this. Because we were not performing all those updates more often, we are kind of delayed a few years. For example, we are using the FlexPod for the Call Center and Call Center has specific versions of their software. Cisco has recommended that we use NetApp version 91 as the final version for the Call Center software. We can not go beyond 91 and 91 is a two-year-old OS. There have 96 out already and will probably be presenting 97 in a few days. So we are literally lagging behind by years.
We would like to see the automation improved because there has been a learning curve having to create the workflows. They're looking at other automation tools, including one from Red Hat called Ansible.
The real improvement I could see on the FlexPod side is it falls on the NetApp components. The upgrades that they had to go through from 7-Mode to CDOT (Clustered Data OnTap) did not make for a good transition. I'm pretty sure they learned the lesson from that because you basically had to stand up a side-by-side system, copy your data over, upgrade your stuff and move your data back. No one wants to do that and it is a nightmare. It would also be nice if you could manage everything through a single pane of glass — but that won't happen. With a single pane, we could look at everything at once in the UCS (Cisco's Unified Computing System) components as well as VMware and the NetApp components. It would be good to be able to do that without having to navigate into four different web pages.
There is a history of issues with hardware availability. For example, we'll buy an array or a filer with a particular configuration and particular size of drive, sizing it appropriately. Then, as we grow, they're like, "Oh, you can always get more." Then when you go to get more, that model or type of disk is no longer available. It becomes this big process to try to figure out what we need to get, how it'll work, and how that'll integrate into the system. That could be simpler. They could do a bit more to guarantee the availability of parts. Obviously, not being the largest storage vendor, I know they can't sometimes control what the hardware vendors do. However, a bit more transparency and communication about this would be helpful.
In the next release, it would be really good to have some kind of unified update manager or something, which would allow us to update the whole infrastructure from beginning to end. All together like VMware, NetApp to go with Cisco, so that you don't have to do it separately in upgrading the NetApp, separately everything to UCS infrastructure then going with VMware. Something that will allow us to do it together in some integrated manner. The upgrades should be improved. We would like to have the ability to do unified upgrades of the whole infrastructure from beginning to end.
I would like to be able to pull in a file to specify a configuration upfront, rather than go through a lot of screens. There is a lot of manual effort there, and that is one place that mistakes can happen. In the SolidFire interface, if you use the GUI, you have to create one run at a time, or one device at a time, which is something that needs to be fixed. Having to do that is ludicrous.
I would like to see a more centralized support model.
I would like to see more of a centralized support model because we have all the FlexPod components and we hand build them. So, if we have issues with one particular stack, we're talking to individual vendors, e.g., for UCS, I have to call Cisco, and for storage, I have to call NetApp.
In terms of what needs improvement, nothing jumps out at me. It is meeting our requirements and so I'm pretty happy with the way it is right now. It would be helpful if they sold a pre-boxed option so that you can buy a rack and everything's already there, everything's connected.
The majority of the time, if we need more storage, then we need to work with customizing the NetApp deployment. Right now, we just do a generic deployment, then wherever we have a need for storage, we have to move some application out of the next FlexPod deployment. One thing is to customize based on the requirements, but the requirements change so frequently, they are absolutely obsolete in six months. I would like to see more artificial intelligence and machine language baked into the environment on the healthcare side. Right now, a lot of people are not leveraging AI, but we are in the insurance business and would like more flexibility by offering AI as a feature set into the healthcare environment.
We have had some problems with SnapSuite and the replication functionality.
The only support call that we have had in six years was related to an ONTAP upgrade, where one of the controllers didn't patch properly.
I would like to see more storage-related features. This solution has not reduced our capital expenditures.
Mainly, the interface needs improvement. I'm not a big fan of UCS Manager, sometimes. I believe they released the new one, and it seems like in every version something changes and something else doesn't work. When they switched to HTML5, I believe we had issues in version 3.2. They fixed it in the next version. The amount of work to upgrade a system for change control is tedious to have issues every time. I would recommend more regression testing, then testing the different browsers in that.
Possibly the UCS could get a bit better. Other than that, overall I don't necessarily have any sorts of constraints or issues with it. It's done the job that it's been bought to do.
In the next generation, I'd just like to see bigger, faster, and better. I think that's partly there. Just shove more memory in them, throw a faster proxy in them, use 100 gig infrastructure. Having more hundred gig ports and AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup/Modeling Language) workloads would be very nice.
FlexPod has not decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our company. There was a problem with the back-end configuration and we had a downtime of three hours. We encounter more downtime on procedural tasks we have to do than on technical tasks. In the next release, I would like to have a better monitoring option in which I can see the full stack and can then decide which steps to take.
It would be nice to have something like an automated, upgrade solution The tasks needed to upgrade the hardware within FlexPod are still quite behind compared to some of its other aspects. That's more on the Cisco side. For the NetApp side, the upgrade process is quite simple. It's been simplified. So, that's something that could be looked at. It has gone to HTML5, but it's still quite a bit bland. It still seems a bit like there were some features in the Java version that are quite hard to get into in the HTML5 version of UCS Manager, where you go to a profile and you need to drag it in. You can't move the box across. All the boxes are different sizes. If you have a lot of names, then you can't move it across, which is quite annoying when you're trying to do it. I would like more with the integration pieces, e.g., more with the REST APIs to be able to access it remotely. The footprint in the data center is quite large, especially when you scale out. Maybe find some hardware in the future, where if a new blade comes out, then Cisco can say, "Look, we'll buy those blades back off you, and we'll give you this blade for X amount of money." A buyback scheme would be good for hardware, and even NetApp as well. Something like a buyback scheme for blades and stuff moving forward would be good, because I know that they're going to put more power into them. E.g., replacing four blades might equal one blade, which would be awesome, but we are still going to have those four blades around. Maybe having something where it will give you this much money for these blades so we can upgrade. That would be perfect. With the upgrading, making that a little bit more streamlined and a bit easier to do, so it doesn't require as many man hours to do. I would like prerequisites for an upgrade.
There were a lot of elemental failures, like RAM or blades. Hardware stability needs improvement. We replaced a lot of RAM this past year. We had to replace the complete blade once after extensive troubleshooting. Any given time, we have approximately one blade down within the entire infrastructure, unfortunately.
It is not easy to implement. The networking configurations with UCS need improvement.
In the next releases of FlexPod, I would like it more integrated with some other HCI solutions. We are currently struggling with what to do for a solution moving forward. We can either continue with FlexPod or go directly to a different HCI solution. We have attended this conference to ask questions and to understand the differences between available products. We have found that FlexPod is already planning to move closer to having more features like NetApp HCI features than we thought, and that would be awesome.
The GPU based VDA solutions could use improvement.
I would like more support for different platforms, possibly different database platforms. I don't know if it supports Oracle today, but that would be a big improvement. As the product matures, being able to support the things that customers are really looking at. FlexPod is supporting more containerizations, and that's a step in the right direction.
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.
There are too many drivers and software combined all together, and we need to have compatibility between all of them.
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.
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.
It would be helpful to have more flexibility for adding other components. It is always better to have more possibilities.
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.
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.
Cisco should work closely with other vendors to ensure that their specialized hardware can be integrated.
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.
There are times where we have had issues with technical support.
As a solution, it isn't really very innovative. It could have better support for portals.
The main area that this solution has room for improvement is in Cisco support.
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.
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.
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.
One touch upgrades would be nice.
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.
There are not really any additional features that I could think of that are not available already. As technology is enhanced, that may change.
I would be interested to see more integration with other applications.
No really good opportunities for product improvement come to mind. For our organization, it does what we need it to do.
The procedure for contacting technical support could be simplified.
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.
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.
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.
Our environment does not always require this solution, so we are not reaping the optimal ROI.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We would like to have faster components.
They could improve the Cisco technical support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
There have been issues upgrading the firmware.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I would like to see synchronous replication and easier automation in the next release.
I would like to see drag and drop connectivity to Azure and Amazon.
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.
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.
I would like them to scale more to rack unit servers instead of blade servers.
I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to the product managers, there are some new products coming which will address some of our concerns around portability and compliance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The new one that we are purchasing is going to have solid state drives. So, obviously, more speed is always a good thing.
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 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.
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.
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.
We would like more security features.
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.
We have had some technical issues around the Java UI, but nothing major.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They should cram more space in there and find a way to compress things more; dedupe better.
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.
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.
* Some of the define features could use improvement. * It needs more power.
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.
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.