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. 

Buyer's Guide
FlexPod XCS
April 2024
Learn what your peers think about FlexPod XCS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2024.
767,095 professionals have used our research since 2012.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod is very scalable.

How are customer service and 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.
PeerSpot user
Infrastructure Lead at a non-profit with 51-200 employees
Real User
Streamlines infrastructure with integrated convergence, reducing costs, and offering flexibility in component configurations
Pros and Cons
  • "One of the most valuable aspects is its integrated convergence infrastructure, particularly the LAN and SAN cloud features that offer a unified fabric."
  • "There could be room for improvement in terms of offering more flexibility in CBD options."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is within our commercial infrastructure, where it integrates with FSCs and factories. This integration allows us to manage and utilize a mix of storage resources efficiently. It's especially valuable for handling heavy SAN workloads, as our site doesn't have a significant amount of NAS storage.

How has it helped my organization?

By utilizing a ten-gig converged infrastructure instead of separate components, we've reduced our rack space requirements, eliminating the need for deploying additional switches in separate gear configurations. 

Our FlexPod configuration was custom-built, as we purchased UCS components separately and assembled them into its setup. This approach has resulted in significant cost savings, primarily due to reduced power consumption. We've also achieved impressive performance, with ten-gig line rates, eliminating the need for fiber channels. 

The primary benefits we've seen include reduced rack space requirements, decreased power consumption, and effective consolidation which allowed us to repurpose the reclaimed space to add more NetApp filers. 

It enabled us to scale without the need to expand our cabinet or cage, particularly when adding clusters. It's a bit challenging to provide an exact figure, but I'd estimate that we achieved a cost reduction of approximately ten to fifteen percent.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable aspects is its integrated convergence infrastructure, particularly the LAN and SAN cloud features that offer a unified fabric. The integration brings a lot of flexibility, significantly reduces setup time, and requires fewer configurations. 

Additionally, when you purchase it, it often comes preconfigured, making it a breeze to set up. You can simply plug it in without the need for extensive configurations. It offers versatility that can cater to various sectors depending on workload and resource demands. It's adaptable to different needs and the flexibility extends to the mix of disk capacities; you can combine fast and Flash Elite, allowing you to optimize costs by not relying solely on flash storage.

What needs improvement?

There could be room for improvement in terms of offering more flexibility in CBD options. Many organizations, especially nonprofits like ours, face budget constraints, and having a range of mid-level switch options alongside high-end ones would allow for more cost optimization.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for over six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The system has been exceptionally robust, maintaining reliability even in high-demand scenarios and during outages. Our ability to bring up the UCS quickly has been impressive, and we've encountered minimal issues related to firmware glitches or advisories for the firmware in use.

How are customer service and support?

Our experience with its support has been exceptionally positive. They have been highly responsive and proactive in addressing any technical support issues. We've rarely encountered any problems, and there has been no need to push or chase after them. Every time we've reached out to their support team, they've promptly responded, and we've received resolutions in a timely manner. I would rate it nine out of ten.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

While we previously used Nexus switches, we've now transitioned to the Nexus Nine series, which offers enhanced capabilities. We're currently in the process of upgrading our UCS chassis and V200-M5 blades to stay up-to-date with the latest versions. Despite these upgrades, we haven't encountered significant challenges, as FlexPod has proven to be a reliable solution over time. In the past, we followed a traditional approach where we used Dell for computing and relied on NetApp for storage. Additionally, we had some HP equipment in our infrastructure. When the time came for hardware lifecycle management and replacing our aging systems, we explored our options. It was during this evaluation that we considered FlexPod. We realized that being a Cisco-centric environment, FlexPod would be a perfect fit for us. 

Over time, as we've continued to work with FlexPod, it has become evident that Cisco's UCS architecture, particularly when paired with NetApp, offers a more comprehensive and flexible solution. While other vendors like Dell may excel in computing, they tend to lack the depth of integration and support for FC/FCoE that Cisco's FlexPod architecture provides. 

Cisco's approach allows for a broader range of configuration options, provided they align with validated designs. This versatility has not only streamlined our operations but has also allowed us to explore more creative and efficient solutions, ultimately improving our infrastructure.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward and simple.

What about the implementation team?

Regarding maintenance, our fabric interconnects have been running smoothly, with minimal issues. Occasionally, we face challenges during firmware upgrades for the B200-M5 blades due to the older hardware, but overall, the deployment has been stable and effective.

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

I find the licensing and pricing structure to be favorable.

What other advice do I have?

Expanding the choices in switches could enhance the cost-effectiveness of FlexPod implementations. Overall, I would rate it nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
FlexPod XCS
April 2024
Learn what your peers think about FlexPod XCS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2024.
767,095 professionals have used our research since 2012.
PeerSpot user
IT Manager at Capgemini
Real User
Enables us to have shorter maintenance windows, instant backups, and instant recovery which also minimizes the number of alerts
Pros and Cons
  • "For us as an IT department, it helped us a lot. Before we implemented FlexPod, we were using different solutions all based on a virtual infrastructure. On VMware, before implementing FlexPod, we had a lot of problems doing backups with disaster recovery. After integrating it, it enabled us to have shorter maintenance windows, instant backups, instant recovery, which also minimized the number of alerts that we get from the application team and from the employees who were working on the application that something is not working."
  • "The upgrades should be improved. We would like to have the ability to do unified upgrades of the whole infrastructure from beginning to end."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it internally for one of our departments to provide the platform in which our employees are working to support our customers.

How has it helped my organization?

For us as an IT department, it helped us a lot. Before we implemented FlexPod, we were using different solutions all based on a virtual infrastructure. On VMware, before implementing FlexPod, we had a lot of problems doing backups with disaster recovery. After integrating it, it enabled us to have shorter maintenance windows, instant backups, instant recovery, which also minimized the number of alerts that we get from the application team and from the employees who were working on the application that something is not working. Most of the time the reasons for the alerts were backups that had been done or there were some problems with them. Constantly getting snapshots in a virtual infrastructure. Thanks to FlexPod and thanks to NetApp snapshot technology, we were able to reduce it. Even now at this moment, we do not have any kind of information that there's some kind of issue because of backups.

Unified support for the entire stack is really important. It was one of the major points and one of the major decision-makers. FlexPod offered unified support. Before, when using various companies and providers, we had a lot of issues with support. For example, whenever we were opening a case with one of the vendors, they always said that it's not their problem, it's not with their application. Our solution is because of them. With FlexPod, now we do not have that issue. We can go to one of the partners or one of the vendors and tell them we have a problem and they will help us directly. Then they will tell us that they do see a problem that we have. That it's not with Cisco, please contact NetApp, give us the ticket number from NetApp and then it will work jointly or the other way around. Now it's much easier for us, for the technical teams to deal with all the issues, that we have in our environment.

FlexPod has enabled our staff to become more efficient. We have more time. We have been working with FlexPod for around 10 years now. Since then, we've grown three times. We are still managing the difficult infrastructure with the same number of people. I think it is the best proof that having a unified solution can minimize the admin effort.

It is hard to say by how much FlexPod has improved our application performance but we do see improvement. We do see a lower number of tickets coming to us saying that there's a performance issue with applications or there are some latency issues. Once we switched to FlexPod, especially for the last few years, when we are using AFF, we do really not see any kind of tickets coming saying we have performance issues.

FlexPod has decreased unplanned downtime incidents by a lot. With FlexPod, we have the opportunity to do un-disruptive upgrades. Since we began using FlexPod, I did not see any kind of disaster or any kind of maintenance that would really impact applications or end-users. We could do it basically on a daily basis without any kind of problems because of the redundancy, which we have there and the way the upgrades can be done.

Our data center costs have decreased as a result of having FlexPod. We could reduce the number of racks in which we are using in the data center because of the way FlexPod works. I think that at this moment, compared to what we had before using FlexPod, we still have a lower footprint in the data center as we had 10 years ago.

What is most valuable?

The validation designs, which we are using, are mostly for the deployment of FlexPods, Cisco, VMware, and NetApp. We do not use any validated designs for the application because most of the applications that are hosting our in house-build applications. Wo do not have any validated designs as those are only done internally.

What needs improvement?

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. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is really good. We do not experience any kind of stability issues. I think the best proof is what we have now. We are now with FlexPod for a few years. Now we are running the third deployment of FlexPod and we are planning to do another one which will come next year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is just fantastic. There's no problem to go vertical or horizontal. It's quite easy, modular, and can be done online.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is really good, especially when it comes to cooperation between various vendors like VMware, Cisco, and NetApp. At this moment, we do not have any kind of problem with support so we can easily get the kind of support that is needed.

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

Before, we were using a service with VMware, but there were various vendors. We had storage that was delivered by a different company. Your compute by a different company, networking by a different company. We had a big footprint in our data center. Secondly, we had a lot of issues with support, as I said. We were looking at solutions to help us solve the problem. Minimize the footprint in the data center. Minimize the discussions with vendors whenever we are buying something, so that we would not have to go to many different vendors and ask for the pricing and negotiate the price for the solution. 

Compatibility and basically going with FlexPod enabled us to resolve those issues. We can talk with one partner whenever we're buying FlexPod for us. It's just one vendor, it's FlexPod. The support works, we do not have any issue with that. When it comes to integration, we know because of the validated design, that it will work and it will suit our requirements.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite straightforward. We didn't have many issues with it. Of course, 10 years ago when we were starting with it, it was quite a fresh thing. There were not many documents available or validated designers like we have now, but we didn't have any major issues implementing it.

What about the implementation team?

We are using one of our partners, with whom we have been working with for many years. It's a German company, and we are getting really good support from them. Not only when it comes to integration and deployment, but also consulting and design.

What other advice do I have?

We did the research. We went through different vendors when choosing a FlexPod solution. For us at that time, and today, it is the best solution on the market when it comes to converged infrastructure. It has a really easy implementation, which gives you a lot of flexibility with the server profiles, which gives you easy disaster recovery with snapshot technology. If you are looking into such technology, have a look at FlexPod and you'll see that it will suit your needs.

I would rate it a ten out of ten. It gives us all the capabilities that we need. It gives us good performance. It gives us easy disaster recovery. It gives us easy modular upgrades and extensions. Basically, everything we need.

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.
PeerSpot user
Senior Client Executive at Sirius
Real User
Minimizes staff, so you don't have to hire more people
Pros and Cons
  • "With FlexPod, it is about the synergy of the server, the storage, and the whole management layer. Together, it is really about minimizing staff. You don't have to hire more people. You can work with the minimum level of resources and the availability is really good. We have had very little downtime."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

In our case, we were building out a brand new data center. They were rolling out Epic, which is a big healthcare application. So, we bought 200 UCS servers. This was five years ago when we first implemented this, and the FAS 8060 has been serving this customer very well. It has allowed them to start with what was 26 hospitals and grow up to 45 hospitals, all with the same set of infrastructure over the last five years. 

How has it helped my organization?

With FlexPod, it is about the synergy of the server, the storage, and the whole management layer. Together, it is really about minimizing staff. You don't have to hire more people. You can work with the minimum level of resources and the availability is really good. We have had very little downtime.

What is most valuable?

  1. Scalability. We knew that we needed to grow, but we allowed them to start with a footprint. Then, we were able to add shells and drives. With the way that ONTAP works, it was seamless migrations throughout. 
  2. Ease of use. They were familiar with NetApp and some standalone environments, which made it a lot easier for them.
  3. It is cost-effective.

What needs improvement?

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.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

On the whole, this Flexspot environment is very stable. We have had hiccups. Over a five to six year period, one could look at any environment, and say, "There have there been hiccups." However, for the approximately 90 percent availability that we are looking for. we are very happy with the results.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. There are times when we get stellar support, then there are times when you get an individual who may not have had the right sense of urgency when we had a sense of urgency. But when we escalate, the response is very good. So, we are happy, and that is why we continue to invest in NetApp.

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

We have a different storage platform running cache database, which is its main application or database for their healthcare environment. Due to a number of future proofing. scalability options, and simplicity, the customer chose to go to with NetApp from a competitive platform. So, we have just finished the migration off the competitive platform that went very smoothly. They are in GenIO testing right now. Within a few weeks, we were able to migrate them off, and it's going well.

How was the initial setup?

The way that we do the initial setup, there are a lot of volumes. There are multiple copies of the same database. 

Let me speak specifically about our recent migration, where the customer actually has four copies of their production workload. In this specific environment, it is complex. Could my customer do it by themselves? No. We helped with that implementation. Their scripts are written in just to help automate the process. This enabled the migration to go very smoothly.

What was our ROI?

We were able to optimize utilization. We had NetApp over two data centers and in the secondary data center we noticed that the utilization of storage was not optimal. So, we broke up the clusters, which was really easy to do. We were able to repurpose a lot of the drive sets that were in the secondary data center and move them to the production data center. That was a huge cost avoidance at the two and a half year mark which saved the company money and still met the production requirements without having to buy anyone else's storage.

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

The NetApp portion was a $5 million investment five years ago. That has served the customer well over five and a half years. They are having to do another upgrade. But, if one could forecast as well as we did five years ago, that is pretty good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I came from IBM and my customer had IBM in place before. So, we can't do FlexPod with an IBM. We can't do FlexPod with a Pure. Dell EMC is a probably the closest one that can do the whole converged environment. But, in this case, my customer would not choose to do this with Dell EMC. 

The synergy that Cisco and NetApp put together initially for FlexPod worked very well together from an availability standpoint, minimizing staff to manage the environment, keeping costs down overall, and just enabling the whole environment to work smoothly.

What other advice do I have?

I would give it an eight (out of 10). I always think there is room for improvement, especially with technology changing as much as it is. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
PeerSpot user
Senior IT Analyst at a construction company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Used to replace failing hardware and provide storage for small remote sites
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our organization by 25 to 30 percent."
  • "I had one problem at the site where I had an aggregate that would not shrink after I had deleted some stuff. It took a few tries to get the right guy on the call. We do have a NetApp SAM with our company, and it really took getting to him to get the solution fixed."

What is our primary use case?

It is mostly for small remote sites. The WAN link isn't good enough for them to come to the enterprise site at this time. So, we do a lot of file shares, VMs, etc. It's to run the local business.

Our FlexPods are NetApp FASs, Cisco UCS, and Cisco switches. That's our version of a FlexPod. We call them ROBOs (remote office/branch office). We have about a hundred throughout the world that we deploy in different regions. For us personally, I do the NetApp side of it. We're running NetApp version 9.5P6. That is the lowest version that we run in our ROBO environment. 

While the deployment model is on-prem, we are moving to a backup model in the cloud for them for DR. In the next month or two, we are going to start that.

How has it helped my organization?

It's done really good things. A lot of it for us is being able to have that storage with the whole solution onsite at a small site, which may not have the WAN capabilities to use the corporate servers for their applications. So, that does help.

A lot of what we've done with the FlexPod is to replace hardware that was failing. We had a lot of UCS solutions go into replace IBM Blade Servers which were majorly failing. We had all types of problems with those. 

We've also had challenges in the beginning where we didn't size sites right. We just totally blew it. We took their monthly closing down to a crawl, then ended up replacing it with an AFF solution, which was great. It really helped us out a lot.

It's just been a little bit here and a little bit there. The biggest thing is being able to have that remote site, and that they can keep running. If they lose the WAN, they can keep running. It's helped not having P1s and P2s at sites because they're dependent on corporate to be able to get something and they lose network connectivity. E.g., we had a site where the roof went. The site is in Fargo, North Dakota. They had a roof collapse at their site, but they kept going because, while they had other problems, they weren't reliant on going to a corporate data center to run their apps in the factory. They were sitting there able to keep continuously running even though they had a roof collapse.

We have done the all-flash at some sites. The one site where we totally blew the configuration, we came in with an All Flash FAS, and it went from them not knowing if they were going to be able to do year-end closing to year-end closing happening because they're an Oracle site. They had been on SAN previously, and all our ROBOs are NAS. We don't have any SAN in our ROBO environment, which is our FlexPod environment. So, they went from a SAN environment to a small FAS that didn't meet their needs, then with that AFF, we've had no problems since then. We installed it right before Christmas, literally two days before Christmas by pulling out the old and putting in the new.

For the entire stack, we have what we call a ROBO team in each of the regions. I'm part of the U.S. team. We have the same team work on this stack for every installation in the Americas, which includes places like North America, Mexico, and Brazil. It's really helped us because we've done documentation that we can push off to our separate teams that do the support, like server support, UCS support, and our storage support. This helps us out. Everything is the same. We've tried to keep everything the same and keep them as common as we can, so it helps with our operations team, which actually is in India. They know that if they can go to any one of those sites and there should be very similar setup.

For the longest time, with all the failures that they had with the IBM Blade Servers, our server staff was rushing to bring in storage and servers because of all the failures. Because of this solution, we now don't have very many problems. The only problems that we do have is sometimes storage gets a little out of control. They need more than they thought they needed. Other than that, it's been very smooth. We rarely have major problems at that size.

What is most valuable?

We've gotten it down to a science to install. So, it's been very easy to install. It has been very flexible for us because some sites don't need as much storage as other sites. Instead of going for a regular four terabyte, 12-drive solution, we can take it down to a two terabyte SaaS solution if the site doesn't need that much storage. Because we're trying not to have storage just sitting there, doing nothing, it's very flexible for us. We do have sites that have over a 100 terabytes. So, it's been a very flexible solution for us.

We do a little bit of Oracle at some of the sites, so the validated designs have been very good. We've had very good results. We have no complaints about latency or anything like that. Most of it is a lot of just file shares and stuff like that. But we do have Oracle and SQL at some sites.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. It does depend on what model you get. For example, we don't try to put a small model in a site that we think would be growing.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support has been very good. I have had a few calls with them. I had one problem at the site where I had an aggregate that would not shrink after I had deleted some stuff. It took a few tries to get the right guy on the call. We do have a NetApp SAM with our company, and it really took getting to him to get the solution fixed. 

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

They were trying to replace all the older hardware with new hardware, getting some new sites as well. At some of the sites, they used the IBM Blade Servers, which were having high failure rates. That was a big wreck. We were going to a UCS solution, so they were trying to integrate into the UCS solution as well.

Three or four years ago, our management decided they were going to put in EMC VNX at a site that had a lot of Oracle in it. It was one of our bigger sites. They do big trucks there, and for the three years that VNX sat there, they had all types of Oracle problems in terms of latency issues, but could never get that latency issue fixed. We brought in a ROBO solution, and I didn't do any tweaking on it. I just put it in and put the Oracle on SAS drives, then separated them out by themselves. We've had no complaints in two years.

How was the initial setup?

We did not use WWT for the initial setup, and we did have problems. A lot of it had to do with the gentleman who worked on the program left. From our perspective, it was a lot of trial and error. It took a couple deployments to get a rhythm to it. After that, since the first two to three deployments, it's been very smooth. With the same team, we know what we're doing. We have the same project leader.

What about the implementation team?

We did the deployment, but we did use our WWT. With WWT, we have them set up the basic configurations on everything. For the storage solution, they set up by the IPs and made sure everything is connected correctly. They don't get into the deep dive into the software or deployment. That is something we do.

They get it so when it's at the site, it gets plugged in. The network guy gets the ports plugged in and gets support set up. Then, we can get onto the storage and UCS, provision VMs, etc. Once that's setup, we can start working.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

The solution has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our organization by 25 to 30 percent.

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

Everything is purchased, so we do not do any leasing with this product.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution a solid nine (out of 10). The solution has been good for us. Nothing is perfect. That is why I wouldn't give it a ten. However, everything that we have done with it has been spot on. We've had very little problems with it. We're able to integrate it really well.

I would recommend going for this solution.

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.
PeerSpot user
Ameet Bakshi - PeerSpot reviewer
Assistant VP at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Seamless integration from both a hardware and software perspective
Pros and Cons
  • "The best thing about this solution is the tight integration with VMware, Cisco, and NetApp from both a hardware and software perspective."
  • "I would like to see more storage-related features."

What is our primary use case?

Our solution includes 7K switches, an 8060 as our filer, and Cisco 1610 as our interconnect switches.

We are not on the cloud yet, but we are currently exploring all of our options.

We use our FlexPod for all of our work, including our company applications.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has been helpful to our organization in many ways including provisioning storage, provisioning applications, and maintaining applications.

The validated designs for major enterprise applications are very important for us. They help with time availability, architecture, and security. From an application uptime perspective, it's important.

This solution has helped to simplify our infrastructure. All of these individual components integrate well with each other, and from a customer standpoint, I don't really have to worry about compatibility and other things on my end.

The unified support for the entire stack is something that is important to us.

This solution has decreased our unplanned downtime.

What is most valuable?

The best thing about this solution is the tight integration with VMware, Cisco, and NetApp from both a hardware and software perspective. The integration of the products works seamlessly.  If you have a mismatch in versions then FlexPod can help you with that, otherwise, you may have problems.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more storage-related features.

This solution has not reduced our capital expenditures.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is good. We have not had any downtime, nor issues in terms of application performance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good because we can add blades to our system.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support for this solution has been good. The support team maintains applications on all of these products. Their training is good and the support is good.

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

We purchased this solution to increase our capacity.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is straightforward and easy.

What about the implementation team?

We had consultants from EBT assist us with this solution, and our experience with them was good.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is researching this type of solution is to consider their requirements. If they're looking for an on-premises solution, with everything integrated, then I would recommend FlexPod.

This solution is good, but it is not perfect.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

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.
PeerSpot user
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.
PeerSpot user
Engineer at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Easy to fix and upgrade, which is good, because we cannot afford downtime
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is critically important because we cannot afford downtime."
  • "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."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is healthcare for billing applications. With FlexPod, we use it mostly on some databases and billing applications. We are also using it now for containers, mostly with VMware.

We have the Cisco UCS M4 Blade Server, 6300 Series Fabric Interconnect, and NetApp AFF A800.

What is most valuable?

The number one feature is easily support. It is all converged. If it something breaks, it is easy to fix. It is easy to upgrade. These are some of the key reasons why we deployed it.

What needs improvement?

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.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is pretty good.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are very important. With upgrades and fixes, we can't afford downtime. That is number one. When you have multiple systems coming together there is always a chance of something not being compatible or something goes wrong. With this converge infrastructure, we know it has been tested by the companies. We know the issues beforehand, which is critical.

The firmware is all pretested and published. So, we do not have to go through the same process. That is how it impacts downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability from the computer is pretty good. On the storage, they need to do something. They have to come up with some other options to scale both on the computer and also on the storage layer. An idea to fix this is possibly connecting the NetApp high availability model with a FlexPod by having them sit right next to each other. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support a few times. I'm mostly on the architecture side. The engineering team uses it. I hardly use the technical support, though I've used it in the past. It's good depending on the support level you get. We have enterprise level support. We have the highest level support from Cisco and have never had an issue.

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is critically important because we cannot afford downtime.

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

Before, it was on a Cisco UCS C240 M5 Rack Server, and we moved some of the applications on a very limited use case. With the innovation of the AFF A800, its ease of management, and supportability, we have seen some performance improvement with the solution. The performance has improved by two or three times.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was fairly complex because of the sheer number of servers, more than 30,000 servers.

Once deployed, it is set up and forget it. We do not have a dedicated FTE to manage this solution all day long. That's a good thing.

What about the implementation team?

I highly recommend if you're deploying this, do not deploy this on your own. Definitely work with partners. That is my number one recommendation.

What was our ROI?

We don't have a TCO model right now.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have a very strong Cisco partnership. All our networking stack and some of security stack is all Cisco.

VxBlock was also on our shortlist.

We chose FlexPod because we already had NetApp deployment onsite (on-prem).

The history of this product's innovations affects private hybrid cloud, mostly. We have a VMware cloud foundation running on FlexPod and want to take this to the next level, either VxRail or on HyperFlex. Those are the solutions that we are looking at right now. I think they are working on SEEBURGER as the next step, but maybe we might introduce NetApp HCI.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution as an eight out of 10. I would suggest or recommend FlexPod for deployment if you are moving from a predefined converged infrastructure or validated design architecture. Though, you have to customize it based on your requirements. Right now, do not just jump in. Work with a partner to build out your requirements, then deploy it properly.

Our data center is huge, so it has let us reduce some cost, but nothing significant.

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.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
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Updated: April 2024
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Converged Infrastructure
Buyer's Guide
Download our free FlexPod XCS Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.