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FlexPod OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

FlexPod is #2 ranked solution in top Converged Infrastructure tools. PeerSpot users give FlexPod an average rating of 8 out of 10. FlexPod is most commonly compared to Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series: FlexPod vs Cisco HyperFlex HX-Series. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 26% of all views.
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.

Buyer's Guide

Download the Converged Infrastructure Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: May 2022

FlexPod Customers

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

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FlexPod Pricing Advice

What users are saying about FlexPod pricing:
"It's expensive, but when you pay for enterprise support and enterprise products, you have to pay the big bucks."

FlexPod Reviews

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Neil Bembridge - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Infrastructure Manager at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Interoperability among the vendors' devices is a key for us, along with the ability to call one vendor for support
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps are also extremely important in our organization. We don't always have time to research products and solutions ourselves. By going with a validated design, we're assured that it's the latest and greatest. It's supported by the three major vendors that we deal with."
  • "I'd like them to bring back the GUI for NetApp ONTAP. They changed the interface in version 9.8, and it's not great. In 9.9 they've tried to bring it back a little bit, but it's still not great."

What is our primary use case?

We have high-IO SQL workloads. We have over 200 SQL Servers for our flagship platform so we definitely need compute, storage, network, all of that in one, that's going to perform under pressure.

We're using AFF A700s, which at the time we got them, were the latest and greatest of all-flash storage. The Cisco UCS portion that we're using are M5s and M4s. They were top of the line when they were released, as well. 

We're looking for low-latency and high-compute, and that's what FlexPod gives us.

How has it helped my organization?

We have an overnight production run. We take a bunch of files from some of our clients and mash them around and throw them into the databases, and then processes them in SQL. We've been able to reduce that run-time, just by upgrading the UCS portion, by 20 percent in the past year.

We've implemented a lot of initiatives over the past five years, but bringing in SSD was the big one. Then we added more controllers and updated UCS hardware. Those are all steps that have enhanced our application performance. This year, we also adopted SnapCenter, which is a NetApp product, and that has increased the reliability and efficiency of our backups as well.

UCS has also reduced our data center costs. We had HP machines, which took up the better part of 2 racks. Bringing all that into a UCS chassis, with the FlexPod solution, has reduced power use and it has reduced physical footprint and has cleaned up our racks. We have easily saved over 50 percent physical space. 

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the interoperability between the devices, between the Cisco, NetApp, and VMware. That's always nice. 

The supportability is also good, the fact that we can call one vendor and they'll help us. We don't need to call our vendor, Softchoice. We could call NetApp and/or Cisco and/or VMware, and they would all help us. We wouldn't be pushed away to the sides. They're not going around blaming people. The solution is sold as-is and it's supported by the three parties. They have to support it, and that's nice.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps are also extremely important in our organization. We don't always have time to research products and solutions ourselves. By going with a validated design, we're assured that it's the latest and greatest. It's supported by the three major vendors that we deal with. That's not really something we could find with other vendors, although, to be fair, we haven't looked around.

What needs improvement?

I'd like them to bring back the GUI for NetApp ONTAP. They changed the interface in version 9.8, and it's not great. In 9.9 they've tried to make it better, but its still as useful as 9.7 and before. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using FlexPod for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable.

The way that we have NetApp built, with HA, it provides redundant workloads. The storage failover is pretty transparent, so when there is an outage, none of our workloads is affected. It's proven and tested. They throw the term "non-disruptive" around a lot, and it actually is non-disruptive. Obviously, I was hesitant when I read that, and I wanted to test it for myself. But I've personally been involved in some of the storage work that's been done over the past two years, and I can agree that when NetApp says it's non-disruptive, it is, in fact, not-disruptive.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Over the years we've expanded our FlexPod, our NetApp nodes, from four to six.

It's scalable. If we need capacity, if we need to scale up we can purchase new blades and have more powerful CPU and RAM. If we need to scale out and have more space, it's pretty flexible. Whether we need to do storage, compute, or network, they are all components that we can just purchase and hook in.

How are customer service and support?

NetApp has definitely been there for us. They're a good partner of ours. We also use our third-party vendor called Softchoice. They're our primary support guys and we go to them first, and then they will open a ticket with Cisco or NetApp or VMware, if necessary. When it comes to NetApp, when we have needed help their support has helped us. The unified support for the entire stack is extremely important. The fact that we can just call one vendor and get support on it is a huge bonus.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

NetApp has been with our organization since before I started working here, although back then it wouldn't have been a FlexPod solution. It would have been a piecemeal solution of HP and NetApp.

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

It's expensive, but when you want entreprise services and support you pay for what you get. 

What other advice do I have?

We still require the proper skills and the proper people in place to manage it. It's still a network. It's still storage. It's still virtualization. I wouldn't consider it a small-office type of solution. It's definitely a data center or enterprise-level solution. But it is a little bit simpler than if we were to piece together the solution ourselves with other vendors. If we were to get an HP and build ourselves a NAS, for example, or even if we would get something that's not supported the way that our FlexPod solution is, it could be more complicated.

I don't think the solution has saved our organization in terms of capital expenditures because we do upgrades, either because we need space or because we need compute, every year. But I wouldn't say that's a bad thing either. It's not like we have drastic spending. It's a matter of trending. If the business is doing well and the application and the platform are doing well because we're onboarding more clients, we need more compute and storage.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
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Senior Infrastructure Analyst at a legal firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Provides unified support for the entire stack, allows us to confidently run everything, and brings efficiency
Pros and Cons
  • "Integration is most valuable. This is a reference architecture. So, we don't have to design something from scratch and figure out how it is going to work."
  • "We would like one-click upgrades."

What is our primary use case?

We have FlexPod Mini for the primary data center.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod's validated designs for major enterprise apps in our company are important because there is stability. There are zero downtimes and high availability. There is good support for the systems that you can run on the platform. FlexPod is a validated architecture, and basically, the spectrum of what's supported is pretty wide. So, you can run pretty much everything without thinking twice about it.

It provides unified support for the entire stack. For example, if you have an upgrade or a new version on NetApp, there is a compatible version for the Nexus switch, and there is a compatible version of VMware and/or Cisco UCS firmware. Instead of upgrading piece by piece or guessing what is going to work with what and whether there are any bugs, for an upgrade, you can follow the chain and what has actually been validated. It reduces a lot of overhead for the team.

It has made our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. Instead of designing or trying to follow the lifecycle of each piece of equipment, by working with a unified stack, we do it once, instead of doing it five times for five different pieces.

It has definitely improved application performance in our company, but I don't have a baseline.

What is most valuable?

Integration is most valuable. This is a reference architecture. So, we don't have to design something from scratch and figure out how it is going to work. 

What needs improvement?

We would like one-click upgrades.

NetApp released a new version with a new interface. For somebody who has been used to the old interface, it's a change. It is taking time to adjust to the new interface, and it would be nice to have some of the old features in it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We are very positive about it. It has been a great experience. We've actually refreshed the hardware which indicates that it is working and is stable. We are satisfied with it, and we're just continuing with this.

How are customer service and support?

Our experience is positive. We've refreshed it. We've purchased additional NetApp, which speaks of the positive experience. I would rate it a nine out of 10.

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

This was our first experience with it. Before this, we'd buy hardware, storage products, and networking products, and we tried to integrate them. Whatever surprises we got, we dealt with them. With a validated architecture, there's a little bit more confidence that whatever you're putting in place has been validated, and then you got two major names, NetApp and Cisco, behind you.

How was the initial setup?

In technology, I'm afraid there's really not much that's straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We have some skills to do some of the tasks, but for implementations, we usually go for integrators. The experience with the integrator was great, and the time was basically within an acceptable timeline. The project timeline did not extend, and from that perspective, the implementation was straightforward. You can have some expectations for start and finish.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We worked with our integrators to look at the available solutions and follow the market trend based on our requirements, and this one checked most of the boxes. At the time, instead of NetApp, there was HP storage or HP servers with HP storage. Based on the previous experience and experience with the staff, integrator's feedback, and market popularity, the choice was Cisco/NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

If anyone is just going from a conventional SAN to VMware Hypervisor, it is the most reliable option moving forward. Following technology trends, if you're moving from a conventional server to SAN and you would like to integrate from encryption to SAN-to-SAN replication to any features—ranging from security, ransomware protection, and DR—this solution covers it.

It simplifies infrastructure from edge to core, but I don't know if it also simplifies from core to cloud. 

We are not yet using FlexPod's storage tiering to a public cloud. We also haven't fully adopted most of the innovations, such as all-flash CI, private and hybrid cloud deployment, secure-multi-tenancy, end-to-end NVMe, cloud storage tiering, but we are getting there in terms of whatever trends are there in the market within cloud integration, flash, and NVMe. It is improving our infrastructure, and we will be there. We are currently in the process of adopting some of these.

It has only theoretically decreased our company's data center costs in terms of floor space, power, or cooling. That's because when we went into FlexPod in a data center, we were migrating from one data center to another. At the moment, they still coexist. We are still in transition. So, in terms of cooling and power, we are still cooling and consuming power in both locations. Until we completely go off one of the data centers and move some of the workloads to the cloud, practically, there won't be any reduction in the data center costs. 

I would rate it a nine out of 10.

Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
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Buyer's Guide
Converged Infrastructure
May 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about FlexPod, Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and others in Converged Infrastructure. Updated: May 2022.
597,291 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Ricardo Perazzolo - PeerSpot reviewer
Service Delivery Director at VORTEX TI
Reseller
Top 20
Great Converged solution high scalable and true data management.
Pros and Cons
  • "The feature I have found most valuable is data protection."
  • "Areas for improvement would be the support for the engineering team, who seem to have no clue when you open a case, the communication with and recognition of resellers, and the documentation, with could be more detailed."

What is our primary use case?

My primary use case is for private cloud, database servers, and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

How has it helped my organization?

It allows us to deploy and fly fast quickly.

What is most valuable?

The feature I have found most valuable is data protection architecture as a whole. Integrating applications like Oracle, SQL, VMWare is a key differentiator. Operations are elementary and consistent. You realize this when you have to scale, and all the management keeps the same way.

What needs improvement?

Areas for improvement would be the integrated support task force with all vendors, the communication with and recognition program for resellers, at scale documentation I believe it would be more detailed (Graphs and Projections @ latency/IOPs/Throughput). I would like to see more integration with the public cloud in the next release.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using FlexPod for ten+ years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is surprisingly performative and high available. In addition, all components are fully redundant.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is highly scalable. Because of the nature of flexibility on a solution, we can customize any component, which is great. Still, when we get off the documentation (cause is too flexible), we have to double attention to the limits of individual components.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support for this solution is fine. However, there is some room for improvement, especially when the cases involve the ecosystems. For example, the support team could have a unified war room.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

How was the initial setup?

For the initial customer or engineer, installing for the first time, this product sometimes is challenging to set up. For more senior customers who have automated scripts, it's much easier. Deployment takes a few hours, perhaps around half a day.

What other advice do I have?

When the operations matter, you definitely have to look at FlexPod. I see Flexpod as a singular competitor for two reasons, once you scale the solution as you need and the operations and administrator's effort keep the same. The flexibility allows you to scale just the necessity you need with no waste of investments. I would rate this solution as ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer:
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Aklilu Shifera - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Engineer at Symbol Technologies PLC
MSP
Top 5Leaderboard
It's the primary solution we recommend for clients who need high availability
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod is the primary solution we recommend for clients with high-availability server requirements. Our clients find FlexPod's management helpful. You can manage everything via plugins."
  • "As the technology grows, we're looking to upgrade our storage systems to something faster, and we're hoping to improve our servers with next-generation technology. So we want to enhance our server infrastructure and explore server virtualization with VMware. That's the improvement that our clients are demanding."

What is our primary use case?

We've deployed a couple of projects for universities. They have been using FlexPod for a VDI solution as well as their file systems and servers. We usually use cheaper firewalls to secure the solution. We mostly use Cisco, which is higher power as well. 

What is most valuable?

FlexPod is the primary solution we recommend for clients with high-availability server requirements. Our clients find FlexPod's management helpful. You can manage everything via plugins. 

What needs improvement?

As the technology grows, we're looking to upgrade our storage systems to something faster, and we're hoping to improve our servers with next-generation technology. So we want to enhance our server infrastructure and explore server virtualization with VMware. That's the improvement that our clients are demanding. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been in this business for a few years, but I joined this company five years ago. I've been working with FlexPod since I started at the company. My first task was implementing a storage system using FlexPod for some university clients.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod is highly scalable. The advantage FlexPod has over some other solutions is that you can scale independently using multi-servers. If you want the scale up the storage, you can create a number of disks.

How are customer service and support?

We usually provide frontline support for our clients. But if something is beyond our knowledge, we get support from the vendors.

How was the initial setup?

Installing FlexPod isn't complex if you follow the implementation guide that the vendor provides. We partner with major vendors like Cisco, NetApp, and VMware, so we have extensive implementation support to help us with migrating the solution. Our first deployment took about nine weeks. Implementation requires only two or three engineers, and we use a third-party provider for the security part. In total, it's a maximum of five people. 

What was our ROI?

The return on investment is very high for FlexPod implementations.

What other advice do I have?

I rate FlexPod eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Download our free Converged Infrastructure Report and find out what your peers are saying about FlexPod, Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and more!
Updated: May 2022
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Buyer's Guide
Download our free Converged Infrastructure Report and find out what your peers are saying about FlexPod, Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and more!