Network Administrator at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We have seen a huge improvement in application performance and it enables us to run mission-control workloads

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

Buyer's Guide
FlexPod XCS
May 2024
Learn what your peers think about FlexPod XCS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2024.
771,740 professionals have used our research since 2012.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is really stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution.

How are customer service and support?

I would rate technical support a nine out of ten.

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

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

FlexPod was recommended by our architect and vendor, WWT.

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

Our licensing fees are on a yearly basis.

What other advice do I have?

I highly recommend this solution.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
System Analyst at ONEOK, Inc.
Video Review
Real User
We can call one number for support, and everyone works together
Pros and Cons
  • "The assurance and the peace of mind that we get from knowing if we had an issue with either the NetApp equipment, Cisco equipment, or our VMware enviroment, we can call one number for support, then everyone works together and nobody is pointing fingers all over the place."
  • "Setting up a Cisco USC environment can be complex."

How has it helped my organization?

It has not improved my organization, because the products work so well on their own. We have not had any issues with it. Knock on wood.

It just works fine.

What is most valuable?

The assurance and the peace of mind that we get from knowing if we had an issue with either the NetApp equipment, Cisco equipment, or our VMware enviroment, we can call one number for support, then everyone works together and nobody is pointing fingers all over the place.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very consistent. We have had other systems that we have had to replace. Other vendors who we are migrating away from, or have already done so.

However, we are fully onboard with NetApp at this point. We love the company and their products with their ease of use and support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have several NetApp systems and we know that if we run low on space that we can add a shelf. We just recently did a head swap on some older systems, and it went fine. There were not any big issues.

How is customer service and technical support?

NetApp's tech support is top-notch. We have a good relationship with our local guy. If he does not know the answer right away, he reaches out to somebody in the larger office and we receive answer very quickly. We are very happy with support.

How was the initial setup?

Depends on who you are talking to whether the initial setup is straightforward or complex. Setting up a NetApp is one thing, setting up a Cisco UCS environment is another thing. We did not buy it as a FlexPod. We bought all the ingredients individually, then registered it as a FlexPod because it is licensed as such. 

We had subject-matter experts doing their roles. In the end, they realized it was a FlexPod and it should be registered as one. 

What was our ROI?

As far as ease of management, we do not have to hire more people to administer it or cross-train someone who is not necessarily an expert in one thing or another. If they do not know it and the primary person is out, then we can just call, someone will answer and help us out.

ROI is not a question or concern.

What other advice do I have?

I would give it an eight or nine out of 10. I am not going to give anybody a 10, because you cannot achieve it. We are very happy with NetApp and Cisco, and our FlexPod solution.

Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: Cisco and NetApp are best of breed. We just fell into this from years of using other products and vendors. 

At some point, you learn along the way that this company over here does a good job and I have heard good things, and this other company also does a good job. Then, these two companies find each other and you get a great solution.

Disclosure: 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.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
FlexPod XCS
May 2024
Learn what your peers think about FlexPod XCS. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: May 2024.
771,740 professionals have used our research since 2012.
it_user527316 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Systems Engineer at McLean-Fogg
Vendor
It allows us to receive support, planning and installation services from a single provider.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the integration and the ability to have support, planning and installation from a single service provider.

Integration between the UCS blade side and the NetApp side is excellent.

How has it helped my organization?

The ability to really leverage the 10-Gb connections between the UCS to the Cisco Nexus switch and then to our NetApp really improved performance for us and allowed us to experience a huge amount of growth with no loss of performance.

Also, we've been able to move to and implement a new ERP system, J.D. Edwards. Because of the modularity of the system, when we need more compute resources, we just buy more blades. If we need more disk, we just buy disk shelves. They integrated very easily.

It simplified our workflow.

What needs improvement?

Right now, we have no flash at all in our NetApp side, so one thing we're looking forward to is going to ONTAP 9. We're also looking forward to looking at integrating some flash shelves to see what the performance will really be. Everybody tells me it's fantastic.

We're rolling out J.D. Edwards location by location so the amount of performance we're going to need is going to grow and grow and grow. So far, there's been no problems but I like the fact that I have that growth path to put in flash and improve performance if necessary.

In a perfect world, I would also love to be able to manage everything from a single pane of glass. I think we're talking about such disparate technologies that I would understand if that is very difficult to happen. In our environment, I'm in control of Cisco UCS manager and the NetApp side but when we get to the Nexus switches, I don't even have the log-ins, our networking guy does. That's something that I don't have a problem with. He's very good and he works very well together with me. It would be nice to have control from a single pane of glass.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for about three-and-a-half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've had exactly one issue and that was a related to a hardware failure, a RAM stick, that took down one blade. It was at a SQL cluster, so the other blade just took over flawlessly. We didn't have any downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is tremendous.

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

Before we went with FlexPod, we were still a NetApp customer. We were using Dell rack servers connected via 1-Gb links for NFS and 4-Gb fiber channel for block storage and still running VMware vSphere. Things were okay but it was time for a hardware refresh. At that time, we evaluated Dell, HP and Cisco UCS; both rack and blade servers. We pretty much eliminated HP right away. One of the reasons we decided to go with the UCS was that our NetApp reseller was very much certified with Cisco and had a good reputation. As I’ve mentioned, it would have that one source, where we could get support for everything through that reseller. It also didn't hurt that Cisco offered a fantastic deal, where they quoted a price for their blade servers almost exactly the same as what Dell wanted for their rack servers. The price is a huge factor for our company. We're a privately held company, so price is often the primary factor.

How was the initial setup?

For the initial setup, I worked with a reseller. They had two awesome engineers, one from the UCS side and one from the NetApp side. They worked hand-in-hand with me and the people at MacLean-Fogg to make sure we got everything done right. That is the real key with the FlexPod. If you get all your definitions and all your profiles set up correctly in the UCS manager, then adding a blade is very simple. You put in the blade, you turn it on, you apply that profile to the new blade and you're up and running.

The big thing with a FlexPod is, you've got to get it right at the beginning and then everything from that point on is very simple.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user320889 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Solutions Consultant with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Solutions that we put up on FlexPod were best-practices configurations - SharePoint, Exchange, SQL. They can all be downloaded from the FlexPod portal which reduces the risk of incompatibility

A customer, a global law firm, was looking to move existing data into a new data center, so they had strong deadline. They had a very diverse set of technologies (Dell, HP, Cisco, VMware, Oracle, NetApp, etc.), and couldn't control costs or procedures when a new business requirement came up.

I performed a gap analysis to determine what building block of technologies were needed, and the opportunity was right for the FlexPod solution infrastructure. You can use FlexPod to standardize the system and to have just a single control center and one vendor to work with.

Solutions that we put up on FlexPod were best-practices configurations - SharePoint, Exchange, SQL, etc. and they can all be downloaded from the FlexPod portal. It reduces the risk of incompatibility and down-time from making new configurations, profiles, and templates.

The other key reason for choosing it was the long-term vision of agile, automated infrastructure, giving private-cloud solution based on FlexPod. The struggle was their speed of deployment (contacting different vendors that took time through the internal authorization procedure), and FlexPod sped up this process by 50-60%.

It's a great solution for enterprise-level customers, but it needs something smaller, maybe hyper-converged for software-heavy, smaller infrastructures that work in the cloud.

The nature of running FlexPod in its pre-defined infrastructure is that it's not pre-configured. It comes in bits that you have to put in yourselves. Clients want something that meets their requirements that you can just plug-and-play, and this is especially true for cost-sensitive and less-knowledgable clients.

My advice would be to make sure everything works per your business justification. How does it fit into your long-term strategy? For example, if you already have lots of investments in other vendors, you're going to have to rip them all out to use FlexPod. Take what you've got, and see how it matches up against business goals. See where the gaps are that need to be filled - maybe FlexPod works for your and maybe it doesn't. Also, you should assess the capital costs and ask how it'll fit into existing datacenter architecture

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're a vendor-agnostic consultancy who are a Platinum Partner of NetApp.
PeerSpot user
it_user320889 - PeerSpot reviewer
it_user320889Senior Solutions Consultant with 10,001+ employees
Real User

That's a great point Jason, In fact i have successfully positioned this exact solution for few of our customers and it makes perfect sense not only for SMB but also for any remote sites which require limited amount of infrastructure footprint.

See all 2 comments
Network Architect at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Opened our eyes to how our current infrastructure wasn't performing as well as it should
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod's native integration with hyperscalers is one of the reasons we chose to look at it and NetApp. That is one of the key components of our infrastructure. That native integration is very important."

    What is our primary use case?

    We were trying to come up with a unified vendor for a hyper-converged solution. Our deployment model was SASE.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Using the solution definitely opened our eyes to how our current infrastructure wasn't performing as well as it should. It made us redefine a couple of RFPs for vendors to provide new types of solutions.

    It also helped reduce troubleshooting time on architecture configurations. Our troubleshooting time has dropped by at least 25 percent.

    What is most valuable?

    We really like the integration between NetApp and Cisco and how fluid the transition would have been from our previous compute and storage vendor.

    FlexPod's native integration with hyperscalers is one of the reasons we chose to look at it and NetApp. That is one of the key components of our infrastructure. That native integration is very important. All of our servers, everything that we have on-prem, runs on it. We haven't moved fully to a hybrid or in-cloud model yet, so we need to be able to run things locally for operational purposes.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I used it at a previous job for about six months and we evaluated it at my current organization for 90 days.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We had no qualms with the stability of the solution. It was up for the entire duration with no problems. We ran into zero issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We had contemplated getting multiple FlexPods, but once we evaluated them to fit our models, we determined that one would probably do. The scalability is there, but our exposure to it was not relevant.

    We had it spread out across four data centers in a single geographic campus. Multiple departments would have had resources on the equipment if we had gone with the solution.

    How are customer service and support?

    Tech support from NetApp and Cisco is pretty good. We engaged them multiple times throughout our evaluations.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    We did not have a previous solution.

    How was the initial setup?

    I was involved in the original spec'ing, scoping, and architecture of the solution. But the integration and implementation was up to some other folks on the team.

    What was our ROI?

    We definitely saw a lot of operational cost savings using FlexPod. As far as capital outlay goes, that was a little bit too much for us to swallow and we weren't able to recognize enough savings in that area to afford it.

    If the flexible consumption had really minimized our upfront spending, we definitely would have gone into it, but we found that the "cost containers" were not enough to make the operational life cycle of the FlexPod equipment worthwhile for us.

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

    The pricing and licensing were tough to swallow. We would have liked to have had the solution be part of any state or other government GSA contracts.

    Everybody wants to see a cheaper and more cost-conscious solution instead of the solutions that are out there today.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We evaluated Pure Storage, Nimble, which is now HPE, and we also took a look at some larger EMC solutions.

    What other advice do I have?

    The flexibility, operational efficiency, and scalability of FlexPod are amazing. This product would have been the solution that we went with outside the price. The functionality and features that it provides are, bar none, the best in the industry.

    The product itself is great. It is just that the cost and licensing are prohibitive.

    But for someone looking for the most cost-effective solution, I would definitely tell them to consider this as one of the products to evaluate.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    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.
    PeerSpot user
    Sr Systems Engineer at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Reliable, easy to manage and has decreased the footprint in our data centers
    Pros and Cons
    • "We initially started out with siloed clusters and now we've been able to cluster everything together so that we have multiple nodes in our clusters. We have multiples on different data in different data centers. We've able to do replication between data centers. That's been very beneficial for us as we look to derive a mature DR model."
    • "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."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is for all of our data storage and so primarily VMware virtualization. We run over 95% of all of our computers running on VMware.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We initially started out with siloed clusters and now we've been able to cluster everything together so that we have multiple nodes in our clusters. We have multiples on different data in different data centers. We've able to do replication between data centers. That's been very beneficial for us as we look to derive a mature DR model.

    Our data center costs have been lowered. We are in a bit of a unique position where we have a different group that actually pays for the costs of the data center, so we don't see a specific benefit. It's been cost savings in terms of a far smaller footprint in two data centers and then also the associated fewer networking costs as we're just consuming fewer and fewer ports as we've gone to the FlexPod model.

    Unplanned downtime incidents have absolutely decreased in my organization. We went from having somewhere around three to five outages every year to us not having had any outages in the past four or five years. That's been very, very beneficial for us.

    What is most valuable?

    We've always appreciated the value of the NetApp because it's been incredibly reliable. It's at a decent price point. We are a local government entity and so we have funding issues that probably some commercial entities don't have, but we've been able to buy cost-effective solutions. We feel that this has scaled in terms of technology improvements over the years, but ultimately we're a small team that manages all the systems and we're split in a thousand different directions and so storage management's a very small part of my day or week. The reliability and the relative ease of use, are the real things that keep on bringing us back to NetApp. It's been the reliability and ease of management.

    In terms of the importance of FlexPod's validated designs for major enterprise apps, we are a big consumer of SAP, so it's important that we have all products that fit into the SAP hardware compatibility list. 

    It simplifies the infrastructure from edge to core. It's been an easy configuration for us. We have separate teams that manage all pieces of the infrastructure and I think that it helps the collaboration be a little bit easier.

    FlexPod's history of innovations has maybe helped us in the context that we've traditionally always been a spinning disc environment where that's the price point that we've typically been able to afford to spend our money. We're starting to deviate away from going with the SaaS layer and SATA layer to more of an SSD layer and SATA because of flash pools, which is a new technology that we were able to leverage on the SSD discs. That is working us into a position where there's less and less demand for us.

    The unified support for the entire staff is very important because we've been a NetApp partner at my current company for at least eight years and we have 95% virtualized on VMware and we transitioned away from multiple vendors to a Cisco UCS server stack almost exclusively. We're very dependent on those technologies to keep our business running. We run 911 services for multiple jurisdictions and these old services have to be available 24 hours a day.

    It has improved the performance of our application by around 50% because as the models matured in our data center and we went from a lot of local storage to centralized storage. We made a big investment in storage, so we're also putting a lot of confidence in the system to deliver the IO that we need and that's proven to be the case.

    What needs improvement?

    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.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using FlexPod for the last eight years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We deployed it in conjunction with several VARs. We worked with Peak Resources. They are somebody that we've had a relationship with for quite a while. We are very happy with the engineering staff. We feel like it's a good working relationship and they've served us well.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We are a consumer of Cisco UCS, we constantly adding blades into the infrastructure as needs arise and we're constantly purchasing storage multiple times a year. We know that the solution scales well and is very flexible in that regard. We can add SSD as we need. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support is fantastic. We're in Denver, Colorado and we've got a really good strong team out there associated with NetApp, so we are happy with the partners and we are happy with NetApp themselves. It's all been great. No issues.

    What was our ROI?

    We feel the ROI is good. It's really helped us get rid of a few hundred physical servers that were unreliable and had inconsistent performance. Now we have a platform that is consistent and has a lot of native high availability capabilities built into it. Snapshots, RDP, just simple things like that that offer us an immense benefit.

    What other advice do I have?

    We've been highly supportive of FlexPod and we continue to be highly supportive. We've had a lot of go-arounds with the peers and other state and local government organizations and we've had some people abandon what they've done and go the same route that we've gone. We feel that's a bit of a success story for us because we believe in the product.

    I would rate it a solid eight out of ten. Not a ten because there's always budgetary issues. Specifically related to the Cisco side of things, we've seen very, very strong fluctuations in some of the pricing of the hardware and being a local government entity where we don't have the ability to just find money for things out of thin air, which a lot of commercials and the prices seem to do, we have very, very fixed budgets and so that's a frustrating process to go through. But the NetApp pricing's generally been pretty consistent. We generally have a four year replacement cycle. So the money that we allocate for replacements generally is pretty right on cue for what our capacity needs are.

    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: Partner.
    PeerSpot user
    Cloud Engineer at a manufacturing company with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Real User
    Easy to set up and maintain, increased our uptime, and improved application performance
    Pros and Cons
    • "NetApp is always coming up with features that I want before I know that I want them."
    • "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."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case for this solution is virtualization. We run both VMware and Hyper-V.

    We currently have an AFF8040 that is running with Cisco UCS in our FlexPod solution. We have a four-node cluster, where we have the AFF but we also have a second cluster with spinning disks. It's nice to have them clustered because I can move my high-performance workloads over onto the SSD, easily. If we have things that we determine aren't taking advantage of the SSD, I can volume migrate it back to the spinning disk and not waste high-performance capacity on workloads that aren't utilizing the speed of the SSD.

    The solution's validated designed for major enterprise apps are very important to us because we would prefer not to open support calls, and with the validated configuration, it just works.

    We are not yet using this solution for tiering to a public cloud, but it is something that we're looking into.

    How has it helped my organization?

    This solution has improved our organization in that we have reduced administration time and reduced troubleshooting time. We know that the performance is there when we need it.

    The history of innovations has had a positive effect on our organization. NetApp is always coming up with features that I want before I know that I want them. For example, it was helpful when we no longer had to dedicate a certain number of disks to our root volume.

    In terms of application performance, bringing the AFF in has made a huge difference in some of our manufacturing and labeling applications.

    What is most valuable?

    With the Cisco UCS, having the profiles and being able to swap hardware in and out is super valuable.

    This solution is easy to set up and maintain.

    I like the fact that NetApp has fully embraced the cloud and the SaaS backup is available. I always hear from my other cloud engineers that Microsoft backs it up, but I don't trust that. I want my snapshots.

    What needs improvement?

    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.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using this solution for six or seven years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    This solution is incredibly stable. In the past six or seven years that we have been using NetApp, aside from the disk replacement calls that we get occasionally, I have only had one other support call. We see disk failures once or twice per year.

    The other support call was related to an ONTAP upgrade where one of the controllers just did not patch properly. The other clusters were still working fine on the other controller, and we got support involved. It was a known bug and they took care of it. The cluster was back up and running with full stability in under an hour.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have not had to scale this solution much, although our CAO has tasked us with being fully cloud by 2025. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I haven't had to open up any support cases recently. That said, the unified support for the entire stack is very important to us. If we ever did need to open a support call, we know that NetApp and Cisco are going to work together for a solution. When you get solutions that aren't paired like that, a lot of the time you get vendors pointing the finger back and forth at each other and bounce the support tickets back and forth. Knowing that NetApp and Cisco have worked together to verify this solution and are committed to working together to solve problems is very important for our organization.

    On the occasion where we needed to use technical support, it was excellent.

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

    We were using IBM SAN and HP servers before this solution, and our uptime has increased from about ninety-five percent uptime to five-nines or six-nines.

    Our IBM SVC SAN was over-engineered. The person that brought it in didn't want to take the time to properly size the solution, so they just overbought. We switched to this solution because management wanted us to look for ways to cost-save.

    I had a very small amount of experience with NetApp while I was with a previous employer, but the storage people at the company spoke very highly of NetApp. We brought them in to compare cost, features, and performance, and NetApp was brought into the environment after that.

    How was the initial setup?

    This solution is super easy and straightforward to set up. It is almost "set and forget", and everything works really well. It actually took longer than it should have, simply because I stopped the engineer and had him walk me through every single step so that I understood what he was doing and why he was doing it.

    Without my interruption, he could have spun it up himself in a couple of hours. However, it was important for me to understand how the system was deployed and why things were set up the way that they were so that I was able to support it going forward.

    What about the implementation team?

    We brought in a company called MCPc to help us deploy initially. Interestingly, the technician from MCPc who helped us with the deployment ended up becoming our NetApp sales engineer, so I still work with him to this day. I knew nothing about NetApp at the time, so he got me up to speed initially. Then I went to a couple of NetApp Insights and took a couple of certification courses, and I am very comfortable with it now.

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

    The total cost of ownership with this solution is good.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    Prior to choosing this option, we looked at a smaller IBM solution, as well as solutions from EMC. The big winning factor for NetApp was cost. At the same time, since we've brought NetApp in, I've found that NetApp's storage efficiency is unparalleled.

    I recently had a discussion with a business unit in one of our remote sites that needed some more performance out of their 2650 and they were telling my bosses that they could get an IBM SSD solution for $10,000 USD. Their cost of adding a NetApp shelf would be $26,000 USD. I have no idea where they got those numbers, but never in my entire career have I experienced IBM being cheaper than anybody else.

    When we factored in storage efficiency and cost savings that we get from using Commvault IntelliSnap for backups, it makes absolutely no sense to use anything other than NetApp.

    When we originally looked at bringing Commvault into our environment for backup, using Commvault streaming technology, we were looking at several million dollars for backup. When we went through this with the NetApp rep and actually looked at how much streaming backup we needed for Commvault, and how much could be done natively with IntelliSnap, that cost went from several mission dollars down to a quarter of a million dollars. That was huge.

    What other advice do I have?

    We are a very lean organization, so this solution has not necessarily made our staff more efficient. If we were not already that way then we wouldn't get anything done.

    My advice to anybody who is researching this type of solution is to make sure that you include FlexPod and be sure to consider the costs in the evaluation. I cannot imagine a situation where the total cost of ownership is not comparable. 

    This is a solution that makes my life easier and I can always count on it being up. For me, that is the most important thing.

    I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user