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FlexPod OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

FlexPod is #3 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. FlexPod is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 61% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 28% 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: January 2022

FlexPod Customers

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

FlexPod Video

Archived FlexPod Reviews (more than two years old)

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Solutions Architect at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Enables us to quickly provision all of our hosts and all the resources that we need for the environment
Pros and Cons
  • "Going from the old monolithic server and silo storage that they used to use is an improvement. With the FlexPod solution, just being able to manage and monitor the overall environment helps."
  • "I think it is sufficient for now, but in the next generation, I'd just like to see bigger, faster, and better."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use is mostly for footprint consolidation — reducing the number of cables and easing the management model compared to just working with monolithic servers. Having access to the UCSM (Unified Computing System Manager) and managing that way seems to be a lot easier.

How has it helped my organization?

Going from the old monolithic server and silo storage that they used to use is an improvement. With the FlexPod solution, just being able to manage and monitor the overall environment helps. It saves a lot of money on all the various tools that are required to manage a traditional solution. Most of the necessary management and monitoring tools are included with the FlexPod solution. So, that's nice.

Potentially through the use of NetApp technologies on the back end — like the FlexCloning and the Snapshots — we have changed the way we do our development workflows and actually the way we do DR (Disaster Recovery) as well. So, we are using UCS (Unified Computing System) on service profiles and leveraging all their servers for test development in normal operating conditions. In the case of DR, you just have to switch service profiles. You boot to a different line off of that and you are able to turn the development test into the DR environment. That's nice.

What is most valuable?

For me, the most valuable feature is probably just the orchestration and automation that can be done around the whole solution from top to bottom, from servers to storage, networking, and using UCS Director. With the FlexPod solution, you are able to quickly provision all your hosts and all the resources that you need for the environment.

What needs improvement?

In the next generation, I'd just like to see bigger, faster, and better. I think that's partly there. Just shove more memory in them, throw a faster proxy in them, use 100 gig infrastructure. Having more hundred gig ports and AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup/Modeling Language) workloads would be very nice.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is nice. With this product, you can just add more compute, buy another chassis, and it might be fairly inexpensive, but you plug it in and away you go. There is no more dedicating ILO (Integrated Lights-Out) ports or track ports or whatever, out-of-band management, et cetera. So, that makes the opportunities for scaling nice.

How are customer service and technical support?

I give both Cisco and NetApp a ten for their efforts in technical support. I have used a lot of other vendors' support services, and pretty often it is an absolute joke. If there is an issue, the FlexPod support team is there to fix it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is fairly straightforward. Once you get the understanding of how the system works, it is fairly easy to set it up. 

What about the implementation team?

We do the consultations, so I set it up myself.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There are a lot of hyper-converged solutions out on the market these days, a couple of our customers have tried those and they felt a little constrained within those environments. The FlexPod is nice because it is still made up of separate components but it is centrally managed. 

I actually used to manage the FlexPod at one company I was with. It was great there because it was all Cisco UCS. We leveraged Cisco UCS director to provision and add capacity when we needed to. Another company I was at used a Blade infrastructure along with fabric switches so that was the same sort of model. It is just easier when compared to other solutions. Fewer points of entry make it more manageable.

What other advice do I have?

I used the Gen4 FlexPod at a previous company and we are reselling Gen5 to a couple of other companies. All using 40 gigs. It would be tough to quantify how much is actually saved, but I know it is a significant reduction in the number of cables, number of switches, and number of servers that they have to use. On $1 million billing for materials, I'm guessing they're probably saving at least $25,000 to $30,000. Overall they see a bit of return on investment.

We have talked about getting a hundred gig infrastructure so we can incorporate AI or machine learning, but they are not there yet.

The efficiency of data protection and data management goes back to leveraging UCS director and UCSM. Just the ability to provision the environments quickly is significant. I would say that FlexPod simplifies IT operations for unifying data management. Our customer is not currently using any cloud right now. I personally have not used any cloud, but I know there are opportunities for some integrations. 

They are leveraging SnapMirror to replicate all their source data and their production data center over to DR, as well as test development. It is easier than a host-based copy. Keeping all the switching within the FlexPod environment instead of having to go up to the core all the time probably helps out.

In terms of switches, cabling, the chassis — being able to fit eight servers in 6U obviously, helps out in terms of data center savings.

The advice I would give to people considering this solution is to certainly leverage all the tools and applications that Cisco and NetApp have developed around the FlexPod solution. You could certainly buy things separately and piecemeal it together, but things like the CSA and the solutions support becomes a nightmare. When you get a nice certified FlexPod solution, all the tools come with it. It makes a big difference in the environment and usability.

On a scale of one to ten where ten is the best, I would rate FlexPod as a nine or a ten. I love it. Again, there are obviously a lot of new HCI products that are coming out. But in terms of being able to manage it, I think that FlexPod is pretty solid as is.

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.
Jose MarianoCampelo
IT at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Helped us implement capabilities we did not previously have and has good availability
Pros and Cons
  • "Availability is the most valuable part of this solution. We have not had any trouble since we installed it."
  • "We would like more integration with some other HCI solutions so we can take advantage of other opportunities."

What is our primary use case?

We have a VMware solution that we use with our servers and we also use it to see if it might be a solution for us as an exchange server.

How has it helped my organization?

The improvement of our company is in terms of viability. The solution helped us implement capabilities we did not have previously. We do not have any issues right now. However, we are starting to outgrow the current setup. It is not as robust as we might need in the near future. We are coming up to a time where we can renew the solution and have more nodes for storage and we are considering expanding our use of the product.

What is most valuable?

Availability is the most valuable part of this solution. It is not the only solution out there that we could use, but it is a very good solution. We have not had any trouble since we installed it.

What needs improvement?

In the next releases of FlexPod, I would like it more integrated with some other HCI solutions. We are currently struggling with what to do for a solution moving forward. We can either continue with FlexPod or go directly to a different HCI solution. We have attended this conference to ask questions and to understand the differences between available products. We have found that FlexPod is already planning to move closer to having more features like NetApp HCI features than we thought, and that would be awesome.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We do not have any trouble with the product since we installed it. It is always available and it is always stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of FlexPod is very good. We are now on a mission to get this product renewed. Also, we are exploring how to use it with other HCI. In terms of scalability, over the last three or four years, we have scaled up and added storage and scaled hardware. So it has improved and it works very well.

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

When we were deciding whether to bring on FlexPod as our solution, we did look into other vendors and other solutions. FlexPod was far more advanced than other solutions that we were introduced to at the time.

The primary reason we selected FlexPod is that we understood that the solution was secure and could upgrade and manage day-to-day work. This is why we decided to go with them. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

During the initial deployment, the head of the department worked with a partner and the support of the reseller that provides us with the solution. They are very good. The partner's name was SouthGate.

What was our ROI?

Over time, FlexPod saved our company money because the old storage and network solutions were more expensive to maintain, so we save on that front. I don't have exact numbers, but I am sure of the savings.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are a team of five members and we also work on our storage solutions. We are all here to learn about and understand new products and see what we can do to progress either with the same product or with different solutions. We are evaluating everything as long as it is appropriate.

What other advice do I have?

The validated designs for major enterprise apps in our company are very important. It helps us in using a lot of Microsoft applications.

FlexPod simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud, and that is one of the main reasons we chose FlexPod. We want our environment to provide for users, power users, and service providers in several ways. That is why we developed this FlexPod solution.

The solutions unified support for the entire stack is also very important. We analyze the way the support for our products is utilized. So we need to be with a solution that integrates with support for software along with the storage.

Our team is more efficient since we started using the product as it has enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. We don't have to spend time matching each resource to its use.

The advice I would give to someone at another company who is researching FlexPod is that I would recommend that they go straight with FlexPod and not worry about it.

On a scale from one to ten where ten is the best, I would rate FlexPod as a nine-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.
Find out what your peers are saying about FlexPod, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and others in Converged Infrastructure. Updated: January 2022.
566,121 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Systems Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Improved application performance and is 100% stable
Pros and Cons
  • "Things got a lot faster. We can pull and test in DEV systems much more rapidly and are clearing up a lot of DBA time. In the past, every time we tested it, we needed to be refreshed. In the past, it would take a day of our DBA's time, and now it's just point, click, and ten minutes later it's done."
  • "Not a ten because it could always be cheaper, it could always be faster."

How has it helped my organization?

Things got a lot faster. We can pull and test in DEV systems much more rapidly and are clearing up a lot of DBA time. In the past, every time we tested it, we needed to be refreshed. In the past, it would take a day of our DBA's time, and now it's just point, click, and ten minutes later it's done.

FlexPod has improved our application's performance. It is now ten times as fast. 

Unplanned downtime incidents have decreased. We've had two and a half years with zero downtime. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the reliability and tools such as SnapCenter and SnapManager. We use them a lot. They make life easier.

On the surface, validated designs for enterprise apps are not that important but it's knowing that they work, and if they don't work, I can get support for them. We did have some pretty nasty bugs early on, around four years ago, but we haven't had problems.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is 100% stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I don't have any problems with scalability. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Support is able to fix our problems but we don't use them much. 

I haven't had many problems, so FlexPod's unified support hasn't been that important. But if I did have a lot of problems, it would be important. I'd rather just not have problems, so that's a good thing.

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

It worked for me at my last company so we went with FlexPod. It's what I know. It's what I trust, it's comfortable, and it's worked well for me in the past.

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

It was more expensive than others but the reliability in the tools has saved us money in that regard, so it's worth it.

What other advice do I have?

It is more complex than just basic storage systems. That's intimidating to some people but it works well for me because I've learned it, I know it, I've been using it for ten years and it's not a big deal to me. But it is intimidating to some people and if you push past that, and just learn it, it is worth it. Especially for the additional tools and the environment it allows you to utilize.

I would rate it a nine out of ten. Not a ten because it could always be cheaper, it could always be faster.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Zbyszek Sitarek
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.
Pre-Sales Specialist at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Improves application performance for our customers and has decreased unplanned downtime incidents
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod's unified support for the entire stack is very important. Before, the customers would log a ticket by Cisco and a ticket by NetApp. It's better when vendors can parter and look for a solution together."
  • "You must build each block separately, that's a disadvantage sometimes."

What is our primary use case?

Our customers use this solution. It's a validated design and there's one solution for compute and storage. The validated design is an advantage when you take all of the separate parts.

How has it helped my organization?

The flexibility between Cisco and NetApp is valuable. When there are new parts of new devices like the new AFF 400, then the speed is not fast enough to implement what the customer asks for, but the design is not validated. It's faster to validate the design for new equipment.

FlexPod's unified support for the entire stack is very important. Before, the customers would log a ticket by Cisco and a ticket by NetApp. It's better when vendors can partner and look for a solution together. 

It improves application performance for our customers. Before FlexPod, you could make a design and that design was not strong enough for some applications and now there is a good validated design. The validated design gives space for the applications to run or not. Performance has been improved by 50%. Before we had to make separate designs, now, we are more confident that a design is good to work for the type of application. 

It has decreased unplanned downtime incidents. 

What is most valuable?

It's easier to sell to a customer because it is a validated design but sometimes the customer wants another feature and then it's a problem. You must build each block separately, that's a disadvantage sometimes.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes we reach out to the NetApp support from the NetApp part or the Cisco part but the engineers by us are also certified to install FlexPod. We have had good experiences with them. They speak the same language as us which is an advantage. 

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

Our customers choose this solution because of the validated design and for the one-stop solution where it's one contract. It's one building block which is an advantage for the customer instead of buying separate items.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our customers also look at Dell EMC. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
JasonDe Plessis
Platforms Engineer at Logicalis
MSP
Makes everything easier to manage and migration into the cloud becomes seamless
Pros and Cons
  • "I see the most value in the UCS portion. I love Cisco UCS."
  • "Possibly the UCS could get a bit better. Other than that, overall I don't necessarily have any sorts of constraints or issues with it. It's done the job that it's been bought to do."

What is our primary use case?

We have multiple use cases for it. Most of it is just based on the fact of its reliability and its performance. We have customers in the insurance industry, financial industry, retail and they mostly use it for compute and storage. 

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. Everything becomes easier. Everything is more collapsed. Everything is easier to manage and migration into the cloud becomes seamless.

With respect to FlexPod's unified support for the entire stack, it's always good to have a single pane of glass to work from. 

It has improved application performance. Anything that runs on instance nowadays is good. I suppose if you're going from spinning media to SSD you're guaranteed to see an improvement.

FlexPod has enabled our staff to be more efficient. Once it's working, it's working. There's not a lot of break-fix. It gives you time to be proactive and not necessarily reactive. I haven't come across a time when it's not working. We have the normal disk failures and hardware issues but everything is so redundant that it doesn't affect it. 

What is most valuable?

I see the most value in the UCS portion. I love Cisco UCS.

Its ability to scale seamlessly makes adding anything so much easier than having to run by separate new hardware from the get-go.

The validated design in the architecture is an ongoing debate. You don't need to buy FlexPod itself. You can borrow FlexPod based on the reference architecture. I wouldn't say that the validated design plays such a big role because you can just reference the architecture and technically have FlexPod as well.

At the moment, our customers don't use storage tiering to public cloud but there are plans for future use. 

What needs improvement?

Possibly the UCS could get a bit better. Other than that, overall I don't necessarily have any sorts of constraints or issues with it. It's done the job that it's been bought to do.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's never given me an issue. Stability is perfect. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't yet used their technical support. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite straightforward. As with anything nowadays, the workflows are just so good that it's easy to configure one thing and just move on to the other.

What was our ROI?

Initially, it might cost an arm and a leg but the return on investment is going to be worth it. It's going to be worth in the long run. So taking money upfront now to make make money over the long run just seems to make sense.

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

It has reduced our data center costs. Having everything in a single cabinet versus multiple cabinets can reduce your cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our customers also evaluated Dell ECM VxBlock. They chose NetApp because it's cheaper and during a POC it always performs and gives them what they want.

I have experience with Dell EMC, HP, and NetApp. NetApp is a bit more complicated to set up than everything else. Once it gets going, it's so much easier to manage than all the others. The others on the flip side are very easy to set up but then troubleshooting can be a bit tedious and complex at times.

What other advice do I have?

The advice that I would give to anybody considering FlexPod would be to just do it. It depends whether you know NetApp or not. If you don't know NetApp, when you get into NetApp it's a bit confusing based on storage, virtual machines and stuff that other storage vendors don't necessarily use. Do a lot of reading and researching.

I would rate it a nine out of ten. Not a ten because it's not like it hasn't broken. There have been issues, but it's not major issues. 

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.
Data Center Engineer at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
A reliable, versatile solution that offers great value and proven performance
Pros and Cons
  • "A valuable feature of the FlexPod solution is that it is all one architecture and I can call one number and get support for Cisco and NetApp without having to jump through open TAC (Technical Assistance Center) cases and do multiple things to get issues addressed."
  • "The upgrade process needs to be improved and it would be nice to manage everything from a single pane of glass."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for backing up and storing banking and financial data. It is especially important for protecting data mirroring between multiple data centers using a hybrid cloud type approach. We have our own cases for what we use but we do like the input we get from the manufacturers and their suggestions on how we should deploy things.

How has it helped my organization?

Before we had FlexPod, we had just stacks and stacks of servers. You know, every time you wanted to build a server you had to go buy a whole pizza box (case for computers or network switches), put it in a rack, plug it up. We had EMC, we had a bunch of different storage providers, the way it connected was makeshift, a couple of late servers here and there. So to be able to put everything in one rack, one solution with the storage, was a big step up. Plus, every time we need to expand the storage for the old system, it wasn't easy. Cisco blades simplify everything from a compute standpoint and you can easily upgrade the blades. All you got to do is add a new chassis, change out your blades, and the blades are done. If a blade dies, you pull it out, you get a brand new one or you change the motherboard and you just slide it back in depending on the policy that you create for the surface profiles and you are good to go.

What is most valuable?

A valuable feature of the FlexPod solution is that it is all one architecture and I can call one number and get support for Cisco and NetApp without having to jump through open TAC (Technical Assistance Center) cases and do multiple things to get issues addressed. When integrating with VMware, I know all the parts that came with it and all the parts and when I need to update something in it, I can just get the complete package, do all the firmware stuff and the fabric interconnects.

What needs improvement?

The real improvement I could see on the FlexPod side is it falls on the NetApp components. The upgrades that they had to go through from 7-Mode to CDOT (Clustered Data OnTap) did not make for a good transition. I'm pretty sure they learned the lesson from that because you basically had to stand up a side-by-side system, copy your data over, upgrade your stuff and move your data back. No one wants to do that and it is a nightmare.

It would also be nice if you could manage everything through a single pane of glass — but that won't happen. With a single pane, we could look at everything at once in the UCS (Cisco's Unified Computing System) components as well as VMware and the NetApp components. It would be good to be able to do that without having to navigate into four different web pages.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution has decreased downtime incidents by close to 100%. With the resiliency built into the system, one component fails and the others still work. I mean, you just can't get any better than that. So the stability of the solution is really good.

We have lost a blaze server here and there. But we run about 30 servers on each side, so, losing one isn't that big a deal. Besides that, we don't have that many issues with it. It just works. This is our third iteration. Obviously we bought it the first time and we liked it enough that we bought it again.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability does have some issues being that NetApp is all part of the FlexPod. It could limit how much you can scale. Depending on what head system you bought that came with NetApp it will make a difference for you to be able to scale. I don't remember off hand what the step-by-step is to upgrade. But I know sometimes that it can turn into an issue. If you didn't gage right and you bought the wrong piece and you went too small on your storage and you need to expand, you might have to change stuff out.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We've never had an issue with them. We paid for a service and we have a dedicated support person. We call him, he opens the case, then the engineers call us back. We don't wait on hold or do any of that. So it works really well for us. I like that. The solution's support for the entire staff has been very important. That I can get the help that I need and help find solutions to fix issues that happen between the stacks is really valuable.

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

Before we started using FlexPod we just had a regular old hodgepodge of different IT systems. A couple of Dell servers, a couple of HPs, a couple of IBM blades, and that kind of network doesn't really function well as a solution once your organization starts to get to a certain size. You need to commit to a solution that you will be able to grow with for the next five or six years.

The fact that the product integrates with all major public cloud services did not influence our decision to go with FlexPod, although I think that maybe the case with some people.

In the end, we went with FlexPod because of everything that they offered. The complete scalability of the system, the recovery capabilities of it, and the whole integration opportunity. The NetApp part was a big deal and a component we wanted because the NetApp storage solution could do everything that we wanted it to do. We didn't have to buy 60 licenses just to make it do what it was supposed to do right out the box. That was a big thing.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup and it was a bit complex. It was complex at first because I mean it was a new system and stuff and there were some parts that we had not managed before that we had to learn. Using the UCL software was new to us. We can easily manipulate the fabric interconnects. You don't have to get the networking people every time you need to do something. They just have to touch the 9k or the 5k or whatever you running.

What about the implementation team?

We integrated through Sigma Solutions as a reseller and consultant. They were excellent. We enjoy working with them. They worked with us on the first installation and then again when we redeployed our data centers and helped us get the FlexPod solution. They actually took us and brought us to California and we actually went to the EMC shop and we went to the NetApp shop there in California. We toured the main offices and looked at the solutions there and where we ultimately went for the next NetApp FlexPod instead of the EMC FlexPod version.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our shortlist included a Dell EMC.

What other advice do I have?

We have found that the solution simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud — although we have not really implemented the cloud yet.

The solution has made our staff more efficient and enables them to spend more time driving the business forward. It's primarily what we do. We don't really have other tasks. But as far as not having to worry about daily maintenance on the network very much — it just works. I'm not messing with it every day and trying to get something to work right. It is set up, it is configured, We have got our policies in place and you pretty much roll. We can focus on doing other things like analyzing the data, mixture throughput, things like that when you don't have to worry about the hardware tripping you up.

I think the integration improved application performance in our organization. The back end on the FlexPod with the 40 gig connections on the NetApp makes the DB admins life a whole lot easier with a lot less latency for them. And not only that, with the components, we can monitor it and see where they are being affected and then we can fix those issues for them without a lot of back-and-forths.

I'm sure the solution has saved the organization money. Because it creates a smaller footprint you do not need as many servers. I don't know offhand how much power and storage and residual costs we saved. But the solution has decreased organization data center costs.

The solutions have affected our operations with the opportunity to use things like All-flash, CI, Private and HyperCloud. I'd say that one of the biggest improvements was All-flash. Before we were still using mechanical drives and actually we did on the first generation of FlexPod. We are on our third generation. They did have mechanical drives in the first iteration. So for us to move to all-flash, which we have now, was a really good step up.

On a scale of one to ten where ten is the best, I would rank the product against the competition as a ten.

My advice to anyone considering this solution is that they really start out looking at their needs depending on the size of the company. The product is kind of expensive even from an entry-level standpoint. I know they have the edge systems for branches, but if you have a small to medium-size business you probably have to have a lot of data to make it worthwhile. I would say FlexPod would be the way to go if you are a larger business or one with large data volume.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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.
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Simplifies infrastructure from edge to port to cloud and is easily set up
Pros and Cons
  • "It simplifies infrastructure from edge to port to cloud. It proves that deployment is easy and straightforward. There isn't any need to do extra work."
  • "The GPU based VDA solutions could use improvement."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is for VDI.

How has it helped my organization?

We have offices across the globe in some 20 to 22 countries and there was a time when people from Singapore needed access because they experience similar issues as we do. When we implemented this solution, all 250 VDI sessions seamlessly were accessed over the internet. That's the benchmark.

It simplifies infrastructure from edge to port to cloud. It proves that deployment is easy and straightforward. There isn't any need to do extra work. 

We are definitely getting good progress and good improvement from them. It has decreased our data center costs by around 8 to 10 percent. 

FlexPod has improved our application performance by 40%.

What is most valuable?

With FlexPod, Cisco UCS compute-wise accessing is much faster.

FlexPod's validated designs for major enterprise apps are really important because we can go with our SAP HANA solution, our Hadoop solutions, our HP solutions, and our Media solutions. A vendor-specific solution is always preferred.

In terms of unified support for the entire stack, UCS hardware-wise is much faster. The storage and NetApp are good. We use Cisco switches and the connectivity and other aspects have improved. 

What needs improvement?

The GPU based VDA solutions could use improvement.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We don't have any issues with stability. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can scale up whenever we want.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is good. I would give them a ten out of ten. 

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

We used to do it by ourselves but we got a really good intro and demo for this product. We got a strong marketing push from NetApp. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It's all built at the factory and it came put together as a rack. Everything was straightforward. 

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator and the process was seamless. They took all of our requirements and from there it was straightforward. 90% of the process was done at the factory. We only had 10% to do and it was done within hours. 

What was our ROI?

We haven't seen ROI yet. 

What other advice do I have?

My advice to someone considering this solution is to go for it. 

I would rate FlexPod a nine out of ten because this is definitely a huge improvement based on what we saw. 

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.
Senior Storage Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
A sophisticated networking storage solution that has a flexible configuration and setup
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature of the solution is the flexibility in configuration and the setup."
  • "Updates are not frequent enough."

What is our primary use case?

We use on-prem for our unified network communications solution, which is basically a Call Center. We have a Cisco call center running Cisco software on FlexPod. That is our primary and only use case right now for it. We use HP as a computer hardware solution for the enterprise. We'll probably expand our use of FlexPod and we use it for everything else including the entire production environment.

The components we are currently using are Cisco Blade Server Chassis. The blades are M4, Fabric Interconnect 6248, I believe. The very first version. They are very old. We'll probably be upgrading in a few years, or maybe next year. We have MDS switches, 9148 — they are pretty old too. We will have to upgrade them. And then we have NetApp FAS8040 disks.

How has it helped my organization?

This is a solution that's designed by Cisco and NetApp together. We have our reference designs, so we pretty much can skip the part where we need the implementation delivery. We can work directly with the vendor like NetApp, and tell them "We need this, and here is your validated design." But that's what helps right there.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of the solution is the flexibility in configuration and the setup. We have not had any major issues so far.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the FlexPod infrastructure get updated more often. Things like the firmware, the software packages, and the compatibility matrix have to update more often and seem to lag in development. We are kind of dragging on this. Because we were not performing all those updates more often, we are kind of delayed a few years.

For example, we are using the FlexPod for the Call Center and Call Center has specific versions of their software. Cisco has recommended that we use NetApp version 91 as the final version for the Call Center software. We can not go beyond 91 and 91 is a two-year-old OS. There have 96 out already and will probably be presenting 97 in a few days. So we are literally lagging behind by years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had a problem with the stability at one point. We found it through Cisco tech support while they were helping us to troubleshoot this solution. We found a drop in the Fibre Channel frames. This drop occurred on the HBAs (Hot Bus Adapter) of the NetApp controller. But we had to troubleshoot every step of the way to figure it out. Because basically what was happening was that the Call Center virtual machines were crashing.

However, the hardware stability is very good. We have no hardware issues on the server site.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution is brilliant and works great. With the fabric interconnects, you can scale it horizontally. I don't know the actual stats, but I believe with the newer fabric interconnects, you can scale indefinitely pretty much.

How are customer service and technical support?

We did not purchase this product with the support contract, but I would like to try it. So our next purchase would be for sure including that part number for the FlexPod support.

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

When we went to invest in a new solution we were looking for ease of implementation, peace of mind, future reference, and stateless design. That is the ability to take out any hardware piece, replace it with a new one, reboot and — boom — ready to go.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward, but you have to know the integration document for the Cisco validated design. It is a must to know. Basically, the guy who performs the implementation should know it like the bible. It is actually the bible for those guys, and for the people who are using it. Those validated designs make our engineer lives, much easier.

What about the implementation team?

We did involve a reseller. I can't mention them by name but they are a very well-known company. The process was great. They set up everything, and they are still helping us with the architecture and the new features, and so on so forth. As a matter of fact, they would be helping us updating firmware on the fabric interconnects in the next few months.

What was our ROI?

Our return on investment is that the solution has made us more efficient. It is a ready-to-go solution. It's like you can start using it almost within a week of the delivery.

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

Our company makes purchases like CapEx (capital expenditure). So we do not have to maintain the license.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Because I don't have experience with the Cloud integrations, that did end up affecting choices initially. For now, we are going to be staying with NetApp but we are also looking at other products like Pure Storage and Nimble.

What other advice do I have?

The solutions that validate the designs for major enterprise apps is a nice thing to have because there are many components. For a single person or even for an entire IT department, it will be impossible to correlate software versions, hardware versions, firmware versions, and everything else. It's a huge matrix.

The vendor has to provide the compatibility matrix, obviously and has to provide the complete vertical to give those numbers, per each component, for all software, and for the firmware. The customer can't figure it out by themselves. So, and that's the reason for the FlexPod, so they can buy and integrate everything together.

We are not on the Cloud yet at all. I would say we'll be looking into it when it's time because I understand this is inevitable. So we understand the push on us into this territory, and I know it is all about the Cloud now. A few years ago it was completely different. Now, it is all Data Fabric Cloud, Azure, and Usenet.

The product has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our organization. Even the incident I mentioned about the crashing virtual machines was identified and solved in one day.

On a scale of one to ten where ten is the best, I would rate FlexPod as a ten. I love it all. I could give it an eleven. 

My advice to people considering the solution is simple: read the Cisco validated design, remember it, and use it. It is a must to have and must to know, and must to use.

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.
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.
Senior Storage Engineer at U.S. Bancorp
Real User
Pod flexibility along with the containerization of each pod is very nice and it is easy to expand
Pros and Cons
  • "The ease of expansion is the most valuable feature."
  • "It would be helpful if they sold a pre-boxed option so that you can buy a rack and everything's already there, everything's connected."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is for custom applications. 

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod has improved my organization in the way that it has given us much greater flexibility for getting our apps rolled out.

It simplified infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. We aren't doing anything to the cloud but within the infrastructure, it's much simpler because anytime we roll out dedicated applications, we are essentially deploying dedicated FlexPods for each application.

The solution's IT support has been key for it because we're able to size appropriately depending on the application and the flexibility to grow out each FlexPod depending on the application requirements.

It has also enabled our staff to be more efficient. Previous to this, the infrastructure was all outsourced and so when we were bringing everything insourcing, it enabled us to essentially start fresh. We were moving off of the legacy block storage from a specific vendor and this allowed much easier siloing of our applications so that we didn't have resource contention between the applications.

The application performance has also been improved. I don't have exact metrics but we're moving from legacy hardware to essentially new hardware, so there's a big jump in the actual overall hardware quality that we've been doing.

Unplanned downtime incidents have decreased. We haven't had any unplanned outages that I'm aware of since we went to the FlexPod model.

What is most valuable?

The ease of expansion is the most valuable feature. 

The solution's validated designs for major enterprise apps are very important.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what needs improvement, nothing jumps out at me. It is meeting our requirements and so I'm pretty happy with the way it is right now.

It would be helpful if they sold a pre-boxed option so that you can buy a rack and everything's already there, everything's connected.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod seems very stable so far. We haven't had any unplanned outages so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I am very impressed with scalability because, given the applications that we're running on it, it's much easier to ensure that the resources are dedicated for each application and we can scale each application's own pod as we need to.

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

We went from an outsourcing model to an insourcing model. It was a good time to make a conversion from legacy, just standard blocks, a lot of physical servers and convert over to a virtual environment and have everything integrated into a nice little box.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. We've got all our reference documentation and we had everything planned out. Our VAR did do a good job of saying, here are the components that we're using and here's how everything goes together.

What about the implementation team?

We used a VAR for some of it and then just for the purchasing. After the first couple of rollouts, we just use them for the purchasing piece and we started doing all our own integration. 

They were a bit slow. They were taking two to three weeks to roll out a pod and we were doing it in a couple of days.

What was our ROI?

We have not seen ROI yet. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

FlexPod was pretty much the way they wanted to go from the start.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a solid eight out of ten. It's not perfect. Everything's already plugged in when you get it out of the box. Obviously there is a bit more configuration involved than a VCE where everything comes in and you're buying a box, essentially. But that's a pretty minor knock on it.

It is a really solid solution. The pod flexibility along with the containerization of each pod is very nice.

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.
IT Manager at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Consultant
Simplified and saved time overall for all of the configuration and deployment but it is not a complete solution
Pros and Cons
  • "Backup, restore, and ease of deployment are the most valuable features."
  • "I would like to have the installation of the top virtualization on its own rather than doing it through the admin. For example, if FlexPod is configured after the configuration of the host, the ESXi is installed also, but it should be part of it rather than doing it as a separate system."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for virtualization, the VMs.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod has enabled us to consolidate some of our stuff. 

The validated designs for major enterprise apps are an integral part of our company. We only do validated designs in our thing and then we remove our data center consolidation and move stuff onto that.

It simplifies the infrastructure from edge to core. It simplifies the configuration metrics and saved time. FlexPod simplified and saved time overall for all of the configuration and deployment.

What is most valuable?

Backup, restore, and ease of deployment are the most valuable features.

What needs improvement?

It hasn't changed the application performance in our company but obviously the new hardware gives it the performance increase. Overall nothing more changed.

I would like to have the installation of the top virtualization on its own rather than doing it through the admin. For example, if FlexPod is configured after the configuration of the host, the ESXi is installed also, but it should be part of it rather than doing it as a separate system.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scalable. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I don't remember having needed to contact their technical support. 

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

We knew we needed to invest in a solution like FlexPod because we were growing and we have evaluated different solutions and after that we decided.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward because we did not do it, Cisco did it.

What about the implementation team?

I deployed through Cisco. We had a positive experience with them.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. 

It actually initially increased our CapEx.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Red Hat, VMware, HP, Cisco. We chose FlexPod because of the consolidation and reduced footprint.

What other advice do I have?

If configuration, unification, and standardization are the concern and if they are using it with Cisco as a network edge then I think it will be a good solution to go with FlexPod.

I would rate it a seven out of ten. Not a ten because a seven means for me that it is more than a five. A 10 would mean that I don't have to do anything else to improve. Improvements could be ESXi installations at vCenter installation and all of that. I have this to do it. It is a solution, but it has stops at a certain point. It is not a complete 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.
Sr Storage Engineer at a wholesaler/distributor with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Enables our staff to be more efficient and it simplifies our infrastructure from edge to core
Pros and Cons
  • "Not a perfect ten because it could use better integration on the network side between UCS and the switching layerKnowing that everything works, having a single place to be able to find out compatibility and things like that are the biggest benefits of this solution. The fact that LACP is not supported on UCS blades isn't so great. It would be nice if it was."
  • "Not a perfect ten because it could use better integration on the network side between UCS and the switching layer. The fact that LACP is not supported on UCS blades isn't so great. It would be nice if it was."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for everything except for ERP. We use it for VMware, VDI, SQL, and a mix of Windows and Linux.

How has it helped my organization?

FlexPod has enabled our staff to be more efficient. They spend less time managing multiple tickets with multiple vendors. If we open a ticket with Cisco and the issue needs to have NetApp pulled in or VMware pulled in, our contact is still Cisco and they still have ownership of the case, as opposed to, without FlexPod, the process would be opening a ticket with Cisco. Cisco would need to check something on the NetApp side. Then we would have to engage NetApp, open a NetApp case, coordinate some time to get everybody together on a WebEx, and then they could say that it's a Windows problem. Then we would have to open a ticket with Microsoft and do the whole thing again. The support is nice to have.

It has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents by around 10%.

What is most valuable?

Knowing that everything works, having a single place to be able to find out compatibility and things like that are the biggest benefits of this solution.

FlexPod's validated designs for major enterprise apps are very important in our company. For example, running our SQL clusters, being able to have compatibility information, and validated design information, for everything from SQL versions, OS versions, switching, firmware versions, and UCS and models of whatever hardware we're using, having all of that pre-validated and available is nice.

We do not use their storage into public cloud.

We have found that it simplifies our infrastructure from edge to core. It's just nice to have that single source of pre-validated designs and reference architectures.

The history of innovations has not affected our operations. We've been pretty stable. We haven't really done a whole lot as far as, being on the bleeding edge of anything.

Unified support for the entire stack is pretty important. It's nice to have. It makes it a lot easier from our perspective, to be able to make or have a single point of contact, for issues that are kind of gray as far as where the problem lies.

What needs improvement?

It hasn't saved us CapEx.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's been stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scaled easily to what we need it for. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Support has been good. There were a few hiccups early on but it's pretty well streamlined now.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. It would have been set up the same way if it wasn't called FlexPod. We're using Cisco Nexus, which is Cisco UCS, NetApp storage, and VMware are all things we would have done anyway.

What about the implementation team?

We did the setup ourselves. It was piece by piece and it was built by us and then validated.

What other advice do I have?

If you're a Cisco, NetApp or VMware shop then go for it.

I would rate FlexPod an eight out of ten. Not a perfect ten because it could use better integration on the network side between UCS and the switching layer. The fact that LACP is not supported on UCS blades isn't so great. It would be nice if it was.

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.
OliverSchnurer
Team Lead at Grenke Digital gmbh
Real User
Simplifies infrastructure from edge to core and has high performance that saves us time
Pros and Cons
  • "Our previous solution used to take 24 hours and now we're down to seven hours. It has really good performance."
  • "FlexPod has not decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our company. There was a problem with the back-end configuration and we had a downtime of three hours."

What is our primary use case?

We're using a FlexPod cluster with Cisco UCS and NetApp AFF. It's a four-node cluster. We use FlexPod for everything in our company. We're a financial company.

How has it helped my organization?

Our previous solution used to take 24 hours and now we're down to seven hours. It has really good performance. 

It simplifies infrastructure from edge to core but not to the cloud. We have five people running operations and they are quite busy. But for the scale of VMs for the customers, we need to have at least two more men to deal with infrastructure.

We just got AFF so we've got all flash on the environment now. This really speeds things up from something like eight milliseconds for I/O latency to under one millisecond which is great.

FlexPod has definitely made our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks. We're going more into automation now and we don't have to build all the VMs by hand. We automate this.

It has also improved application performance by around 50%. We're getting back more scale. I'm very happy with the performance of the database now. It has also decreased our data center's costs. We don't use so many racks anymore. We compressed all the stuff and we have a higher compute and more IOPs in the smaller racks.

What is most valuable?

Support of the firmware is the most valuable feature. The solutions' validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization is very important. It ensures our ERP system runs smoothly on those machines.

We don't use the storage tiering to the public cloud.

What needs improvement?

FlexPod has not decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our company. There was a problem with the back-end configuration and we had a downtime of three hours. We encounter more downtime on procedural tasks we have to do than on technical tasks.

In the next release, I would like to have a better monitoring option in which I can see the full stack and can then decide which steps to take.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of the stability, once it's up and running, it runs really smoothly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is excellent. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is good. It would be better if some P2 cases would be looked at from P1 guys as well, to give more experience to these orders. Last time we had four weeks on a P2 case, which wasn't very good. We have a task force and within three days, we managed to get through the problem. So this could have been resolved actually two weeks before.

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

We chose NetApp because we've used them before and we trust them.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. We are implementing ACI as well, application centric infrastructure and this is complex to the network. We are pushing a virtualization layer on to the network which is really complex.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator who was great.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Dell EMC and NetApp but Dell EMC was expensive. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it an eight out of ten. An eight because it's very reliable but there are some flaws which you need time to tackle them. There are some things that can be better. Better integration would make it a ten. 

I would recommend this solution to someone considering it because of the support it comes with and the high-performance. We can scale it up to a level which we will never reach.

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.
Solution Architect at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Easily upgradable, scales well, and saves us money in operating expenses
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature for me is that you can swap out pieces when you have to lifecycle your equipment."
  • "In the SolidFire interface, if you use the GUI, you have to create one run at a time, or one device at a time, which is something that needs to be fixed."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for all of our tier two and tier three storage, in all of our business units.

The ability to scale on demand allows us to get the capacity for the customer in a much more efficient manner in a better timeframe.

How has it helped my organization?

From an infrastructure standpoint, we have more cohesiveness between the teams. This was a concern to us and we're working to solve it so that we can operate in a more efficient manner.

From an ESX node standpoint, using this solution has reduced our footprint tremendously. I would say that it has decreased by approximately thirty-five percent.

We have done a lot of consolidation on the storage side. We have been able to put into one cluster what would have taken three or four in the older environment. It benefits us because there is less administration.

Some of our applications were on solid-state flash disks and some were on a hybrid platform. This new configuration is all-flash, solid-state, so nobody should have complaints about the performance.

The storage performance has most likely increased anywhere from ten percent to probably twenty percent, attributed to the all-flash, solid-state hardware.

We have seen a more efficient use of compute resources because we have fewer nodes committed. I would say that we are probably thirty to thirty-five percent more efficient.

Our maintenance costs have absolutely been reduced. We were going to have to pay between one and two million dollars, and by putting this in, we're avoiding those costs.

Our TCO has been reduced because one big piece of our former infrastructure was made up of Cisco SAN switches, and they are pretty pricey per port when you're using fiber channel. Now, we're using iSCSI, so we're saving a lot of money.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for me is that you can swap out pieces when you have to lifecycle your equipment. You never have to go through a big freeze, but instead, do small pieces at a time. It reduces the migration hassle.

The tools bring the compute and storage together so that we can see it in a single pane of glass.

What needs improvement?

I would like to be able to pull in a file to specify a configuration upfront, rather than go through a lot of screens. There is a lot of manual effort there, and that is one place that mistakes can happen.

In the SolidFire interface, if you use the GUI, you have to create one run at a time, or one device at a time, which is something that needs to be fixed. Having to do that is ludicrous.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been good so far. We have had some drive-type issues where we had to apply a new code level, but in my opinion, it is just part of the normal business transactions. The storage nodes cause certain drives to act as though they've failed, but they really haven't. You just have to remove them, re-insert them, and they work again. It is a bug.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We've grown and grown, and we've done it all online, so there are no concerns around scaling from a storage standpoint.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have been in contact with technical support a few times. Not a whole lot. I don't have any concerns with them.

How was the initial setup?

The setup of this solution is lengthy and complex, but we have been speaking with people about how to make it more efficient.

The complexity has a lot to do with when you're initially setting the equipment up. There's a lot of values that you have to plug into their various screens, and then you also have to do a reboot to pick up whether it's going to be a storage node or a compute node. Then, they're looking to fix status too, and you have to do a reboot after that, so you lose forty-five minutes and if you have a large install, that's a long time to build the environment.

What about the implementation team?

We used some of the professional services that were tied to the bundled packages.  We also obtain our hardware and resources through a third-party called WWT, and everything is great with them.

What was our ROI?

ROI is difficult to figure out but I can say that we have had two to three million dollars in OE savings by deploying this and getting rid of older equipment.

What other advice do I have?

Even though this is a fairly new product, it is very appropriate for business solutions, and not just your mom-and-pop shops. It scales rather well, and to me, the big thing is the rolling upgrade scenario as far as when it comes time to lifecycle your equipment. 

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
RafaelLage
CTO at ForceOne
Real User
CVDs reduce risks for implementations
Pros and Cons
  • "CVDs reduce risks for implementations. We always make sure that all installations are based on best practices."
  • "FlexPod can improve with a single control management interface to manage all aspects and components of the solution."

What is our primary use case?

We have been using FlexPod for a virtualized environment, mainly for virtual machines running on VMware or Hyper-V with database solutions, application servers, and web servers. In general, it is for all data center infrastructure. 

It is our integrated system between NetApp and Cisco.

What is most valuable?

FlexPod gets very strong performance and efficiency from NetApp storage as well as it is very simple to install and implement. We can be up and running in two or three day after we get the rack.

CVDs reduce risks for implementations. We always make sure that all installations are based on best practices.

FlexPod has so many versions and capabilities. So, we can simplify the data flowing between edge, port, and cloud.

What needs improvement?

FlexPod can improve with a single control management interface to manage all aspects and components of the solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable. It has redundant components and the uptime is 100 percent.

FlexPod has a long history of innovations in each release. They introduce each new functionality into FlexPod, like cloud integration and All Flash FAS. We are seeing all the time NetApp and ONTAP working together to create new features. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod allows you to scale as your business grows because they support a lot of expansions from the network sites.

How are customer service and technical support?

In Brazil, there is a special chain to support FlexPod technical support issues. It is a special chain that is integrated between NetApp and the software layer.

The unified support is very important because we have a single point of contact. Whether it is Cisco, NetApp, or VMware, they work together in order to solve any problem that the FlexPod has.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is very straightforward since all our installations are based on CVDs. So, it is very easy to install.

What was our ROI?

FlexPod can decrease data cost costs because it is an integrated solution. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We fear high availability so we can't buy from different providers.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate FlexPod as a 10 (out of 10).

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: NetApp partner in Brazil.
EricKutyla
Senior System Administrator at Bell Canada
Real User
Improves our business by giving us rapid support and rapid response to incidents
Pros and Cons
  • "The validated design is really important for us because it gives us a model on which to base our architecture and continued support for all firmware upgrades. It also provides consistency throughout the environment."
  • "If they could reduce some of the complexity at the system manager level for ONTAP. I find it gives a lot of flexibility. You can do as much or as little as you want. But to be able to do as little as you want, you do have to do a lot. So, if they could bring that down to a more manageable effort level, that would be nice and simplify it a bit."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case that we have is we like the support model of the FlexPod. We like it being converged with NetApp storage, Cisco, UCS, and VMware. We like having a single point of contact phone number for all support inquiries. These are some of the main selling features that we enjoy about FlexPod.

How has it helped my organization?

The validated design is really important for us because it gives us a model on which to base our architecture and continued support for all firmware upgrades. It also provides consistency throughout the environment.

FlexPod is making our staff more efficient. They don't have to spend as much time validating infrastructures and designs because that has been already taken care of out-of-the-box. The support model makes it a lot more efficient in the case of incidents.

What is most valuable?

The unified support is the most valuable feature. What I really enjoy about FlexPod is the support model. You have a single point of contact number for all troubleshooting issues and the vendor that you call takes ownership of the case. It goes with the NetApp validated designs, which are based on Cisco, which is really interesting.

The features of FlexPod that have had an impact on us are the new additions that we have made with the all-flash arrays: added performance, and flexibility management. These are very nice features. 

What needs improvement?

If they could reduce some of the complexity at the system manager level for ONTAP. I find it gives a lot of flexibility. You can do as much or as little as you want. But to be able to do as little as you want, you do have to do a lot. So, if they could bring that down to a more manageable effort level, that would be nice and simplify it a bit.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been awesome. No outages to report throughout the whole stack since we implemented the whole Flexspot solution. So, it's been really stable, which is nice. 

FlexPod has reduced the downtime in our environment because of the fact that we have a validated design and all the firmware is up-to-date, validated, and matched up across the entire platform.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We will see if it can scale, because it's still fairly new.

How are customer service and technical support?

FlexPod is improving our business by giving us rapid support and rapid response to incidents.

The FlexPod unified support was really important for us in a case where we contacted one of the associated vendors. They redirected the case, taking charge of it, and really speeding up the process of troubleshooting with the other associated vendors, who are included with FlexPod

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was was very well coordinated between NetApp and us. It was very smooth and very painless. 

What about the implementation team?

We leveraged NetApp services to come and install the solution in this case. It went very well.

What was our ROI?

FlexPod has saved data center costs, due to the fact that we reduced our footprint for storage in a big way. We went from three complete racks down to a 2U storage array for more than 300 terabytes of storage. 

We immediately saw a return on investment due to the fact that replacing our legacy storage arrays with the new AFFs reduced the footprint and maintenance costs. Overall, we saw an almost immediate ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The short list was a essentially Dell EMC and NetApp. We chose NetApp because of this FlexPod support model.

What other advice do I have?

Look at the end-to-end solution. Examine what the needs are. The solution is so flexible, and there are so many options. If you plan it well, you can plan a very cost effective cost-effective solution throughout the whole gamut of storage arrays available through NetApp.

I would rate it a nine (out of 10) because there is always room for improvement. I can't be perfect.

We don't use tiering to public cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Sales Analyst at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Support cases are focused and solved faster because of the unified support
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is the one support. Anytime that a customer buys a solution for a server, storage, or network, once they have trouble in their environment, everyone wants to find out who was wrong. With FlexPod, everyone is wrong and there is unified support. The best way to solve the problem is have it be everyone's problem, not just one person's problem. For FlexPod, you can call NetApp or Cisco, and I think it's the best way to solve the problem that the customer has."
  • "The networking configurations with UCS need improvement."

What is our primary use case?

We have a bank customer in Brazil who sells a lot of credit cards.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud.

The solution has made our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drives our business forward.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the one support. Anytime that a customer buys a solution for a server, storage, or network, once they have trouble in their environment, everyone wants to find out who was wrong. With FlexPod, everyone is wrong and there is unified support. The best way to solve the problem is have it be everyone's problem, not just one person's problem. For FlexPod, you can call NetApp or Cisco, and I think it's the best way to solve the problem that the customer has.

The best improvement is the validated designs. Everything has compliance. Sometimes when you have a trouble with a machine, or in your switch or storage, you can just call one place to solve the problem. 

The all-flash with the fabric interconnect, along with the connections between the solution, that is the most important aspect.

What needs improvement?

It is not easy to implement. 

The networking configurations with UCS need improvement.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The application performance has improved in our organization. The configurations of the networks are very substantive. If the customer has trouble, we just have to make the configuration one time, then everything is okay.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good because if you want to grow your environment, then you can do it. It has compliance, stacks, and nodes.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the technical support as a 10 out of 10.

The solution has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our organization because of the high availability of the solution. Sometimes, customers have talked about how good the support is. When they call to open a case, we can solve it in two days. To solve a problem, it use to longer: two weeks. Now, it can be solved in two to three days.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a little complex.

What about the implementation team?

We are the integrator. We have five or six people to implement it. In our company, we are segmented, like networking, server, storage, etc.

What was our ROI?

Before this solution, the customer had around 15 people managing the environment. After purchasing the solution, they had just one. Their OPEX was better after this solution, and the ROI was very fast. ROI happens in about two years.

I think it has reduced data center cost but we don't have this feedback from the customer.

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

We would like everything in one piece of hardware. This way we can just sell the product like a silo by putting everything in a stack together.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it a nine (out of 10). It is the better way for the customer to has less troubles and problems.

You have one configuration and one compliance with two companies, Cisco and NetApp. I think this is the best way to make solutions.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
AlexTsoi
Senior IT Infrastructure Specialist at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Makes our environment more homogeneous, so there are not as many technologies to study and learn
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution makes our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. The environment is more homogeneous, so there are not as many technologies to study and learn. People can focus on improving their knowledge in existing technologies."
  • "Hardware stability needs improvement. We replaced a lot of RAM this past year. We had to replace the complete blade once after extensive troubleshooting. Any given time, we have approximately one blade down within the entire infrastructure, unfortunately."

What is our primary use case?

Two hour production products are fully running in AWS. For the FlexPod, we just run everything on it.

We bought all the parts separately. So, we are running a certified FlexPod design with the AFF A700, UCS chassis, and Cisco Nexus FIs.

We are using both AWS and Azure.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution makes our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. The environment is more homogeneous, so there are not as many technologies to study and learn. People can focus on improving their knowledge in existing technologies.

It simplifies our lives.

We use a smaller footprint of equipment right now.

What is most valuable?

  • The compact design
  • Cost savings

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are very important. We use all certified designs to be eligible for the enterprise support and to receive support promptly. That is why we extremely rely on the certified designs and best practices.

What needs improvement?

There were a lot of elemental failures, like RAM or blades.

Hardware stability needs improvement. We replaced a lot of RAM this past year. We had to replace the complete blade once after extensive troubleshooting. Any given time, we have approximately one blade down within the entire infrastructure, unfortunately.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. It breaks sometimes.

The solution has decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our organization. We have almost eliminated downtime (by 90 percent) since using FlexPod.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very expensive.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We haven't needed to contact Cisco support regarding FlexPod as the entity. For NetApp and UCS, we receive a lot of attention.

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is very important. With FlexPod, you receive a higher attention level when you ask for support. This is very beneficial in a time-sensitive business.

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

We did not have FlexPod before. We had a bunch of standalone HPE rack servers.

We switched after analyzing the performance needs and what customers wanted to spend.

We reduced the environmental footprint, like reducing electricity costs and heating. However, we are hosting our data centers from somebody else. We reduced our footprint of equipment by approximately 80 percent. Meaning that about 70 percent of our cabinets right now are empty because we switched to FlexPod.

What about the implementation team?

For the deployment of UCS, we uses an integrator and fellow reseller. Our experience with them was very good. Everything works.

What was our ROI?

The application performance improved by 50 to 70 percent.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Cisco and NetApp were on our shortlist.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it an eight (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Systems Engineer at First Ontario Credit Union
Real User
Time to resolving a problem goes down quite a bit
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is the one call number for support and the fact that all the documentation comes with it. They have all of the preprepared plans for the deployment model and we can just choose which one we want for VMware, etc. The hardware is all listed. We buy that and away we go. It's called validated design."
  • "Mainly, the interface needs improvement. I'm not a big fan of UCS Manager, sometimes. I believe they released the new one, and it seems like in every version something changes and something else doesn't work. When they switched to HTML5, I believe we had issues in version 3.2. They fixed it in the next version. The amount of work to upgrade a system for change control is tedious to have issues every time. I would recommend more regression testing, then testing the different browsers in that."

What is our primary use case?

For both data centers, everything that we use IT-wise is run on both of them.

We currently use versions 4.1 and 3.2.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. It makes supporting it, troubleshooting it, and documentation a lot easier. Time to resolving a problem goes down quite a bit as well.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the one call number for support and the fact that all the documentation comes with it. They have all of the preprepared plans for the deployment model and we can just choose which one we want for VMware, etc. The hardware is all listed. We buy that and away we go. It's called validated design.

The validated design is nice if we have issues with anything. We can call the vendor, or if anyone says anything, we can say, "Well, we're already running by the certified design to the verify design. We're not doing anything out of the ordinary." It makes support a lot easier.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization is very important because of the whole troubleshooting problem, or if we run into any supportability problems. We say, "We've done what was asked of the company. It is all verified. We shouldn't have any funny things happening." As for management, if they come down and ask questions, we can say, "We're following best practices."

What needs improvement?

Mainly, the interface needs improvement. I'm not a big fan of UCS Manager, sometimes. I believe they released the new one, and it seems like in every version something changes and something else doesn't work. When they switched to HTML5, I believe we had issues in version 3.2. They fixed it in the next version. The amount of work to upgrade a system for change control is tedious to have issues every time. I would recommend more regression testing, then testing the different browsers in that.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it at my current company for years. I also used it for about two years at another company before where I am now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution decreased the unplanned downtime incidents in our company because it's newer, more supported. HPE had a lot of bugs in the system. Our guys would go to make a change, then all of a sudden, they would run into a bug. Next thing, we are down. There is a lot better documentation and support behind the FlexPods.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues yet. Anytime that we've ever had to scale, we just add another blade chassis, and away we go. We throw in more blades. It is very easy. We reuse all of our templates for that. So, it is very quick to deploy new hardware.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is the best out of all the ones that I'm responsible for calling, e.g., compared to Dell EMC. We've had issues with Dell EMC in the past, HPE as well. 

Anytime that I have called NetApp, they have an answer right away. Before with Dell EMC and HPE, we've been bounced around in their Tier 1 and 2 before you get to talk to someone who knows what is going on. That doesn't seem to happen with NetApp, or if it happens behind the scenes, we don't see it.

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is very important to us. When we have trouble with Fibre Channel or networking, it's just one number to call. You get someone who knows the whole stack versus having to chase down Brocade, Cisco, or NetApp.

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

Before, we used to run on HPE Blade Centers, so we had a networking guy, an HPE Blade Center guy, and a VMware guy. Using UCS and FlexPod, we now have two people at the company who run that whole stack, so there is no finger-pointing. It eases a lot of troubleshooting, because it's just two people versus multiple teams.

It has improved the application performance in our company. For us, it was about replacing old hardware with new hardware. The application performance was slow before, and it is better now.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward because I have done it multiple times before. I've had to do it probably four times now. Now, I just know what I need to do versus the first time I had to it. We worked with a reseller and basically read all the documentation the first time.

The process for deployment is rack and stack, then upgrade to the latest firmware. We go through all our templates and gather what we're currently using compared to what the latest version of UCS offers. We make any updates, as necessary,  then reconfigure, redeploy, and away we go.

What about the implementation team?

We did it ourselves.

What was our ROI?

We went from two racks down to one at one location. We stayed the same at another location. Power-wise, we never really paid attention to it. With cooling, there is less hardware.

The solution has saved our company time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We decided on NetApp mainly cost because of cost and the fact that we already have the in-house knowledge and expertise. Therefore, it just made sense to stay within the ecosystem we were in.

Usually, we have a look at other vendors, like Dell EMC and HPE. However, currently, it was based on the time cycle of the hardware refresh. It made sense to just go with what we already had.

We are looking at going down the next refresh with NVMe, and NetApp is the only one who offers that end-to-end solution.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the solution as an eight (out of 10). There is always room for improvement, but it's the best technology that I have used so far.

Genuinely have an understanding of where you want to go. We've had issues before at other companies where people like a hardware. Don't look at the hardware. Instead, look at what you want to do, then work backwards.

Right now, all of our needs are currently being met. I know we're going to move towards NVMe with the one data center once we update. However, that is pretty much the newest thing on the radar for me.

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.
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.
Senior Systems Engineer at a government with 201-500 employees
Real User
Good data center density, scalability, and technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "From the Cisco side, the most valuable features of this solution are the data center density, the deployment, and the management of the servers and the networking."
  • "Hyper-V is not as well supported by NetApp and Cisco as VMware is, which is something that should be improved."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is virtualization with Hyper-V.

We are using Cisco UCS and NetApp together in our FlexPod solution.

The validated designs for major enterprise applications are very important for our organization because we are part of the local government, and this solution is a critical platform for a broad array of applications and services that we provide to the public.

The history of innovations, in particular, the inclusion of all-flash, has had a positive effect on our database performance.

How has it helped my organization?

We are using the solution's tiering to AWS as a backup target for all of our data. It is essentially our DR and it is being sent out to AWS using SnapMirror.

In terms of making our staff more efficient, we have had a mixed experience. It isn't necessarily FlexPod, per se. Rather, we chose the wrong hypervisor. Hyper-V is not well supported. NetApp and Cisco don't know as much about running Hyper-V as they do VMware on top of the platform. It was really our choice of hypervisor that is the negative point.

We have been able to reduce our data center costs since implementing this solution. Three or four years ago, we were able to shrink our data center by fifty percent. This was a co-location leased space that we were able to reduce.

Our capital expenditures have been reduced, I would say, although I do not have exact figures.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the integration between NetApp and Cisco products. 

From the Cisco side, the most valuable features of this solution are the data center density, the deployment, and the management of the servers and the networking.

What needs improvement?

Hyper-V is not as well supported by NetApp and Cisco as VMware is, which is something that should be improved.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for about eight years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Across the board, this solution is very stable. We're very happy. It is very resilient and fault-tolerant. Downtime would usually be due to human error.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

On both the storage and the compute side, this solution is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's unified support for the entire stack is significant. In my experience, I've had situations where we built an architecture that did not have that model. It was difficult because as a customer, we ended up coordinating the support of the multiple vendors.

Our experience with them has been positive. We do have a technical account manager on the Cisco side, and the coordinated support is available if necessary.

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

Prior to this solution, we were using a multi-vendor storage solution that included HP Blade servers with equipment from EMC. We switched to Cisco, which was a strategic management decision.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was complex because we were doing it for the first time. We have some very experienced Cisco engineers on staff, which was key to implementing Cisco UCS because it was familiar to them.

What about the implementation team?

We had a reseller assist us with the deployment, eight years ago. Because this was new for us, NetApp was involved to make sure that it was successful.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options before choosing FlexPod.

What other advice do I have?

There have been some improvements on the Cisco UCS side since we began using this solution. In the earlier days, it was more difficult to upgrade, and there was pain involved during the process. That has gotten a lot better over time.

My advice to anybody who is researching this type of product is to consider their requirements. If their need is for a dense data center that is scalable, then this would be the choice because it scales easier than any other product I'm aware of.

This is a good solution, but our experience hasn't been perfect.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Director IT at a insurance company with 201-500 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.
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.
Director of Data Center Operations at Barry University
Real User
A simple and efficient solution for our DR that has helped reduce our hardware footprint and save costs
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable features of this solution are efficiency and simplicity."
  • "We have had some problems with SnapSuite and the replication functionality."

What is our primary use case?

Everything with NetApp right now is our DR and restore strategy. We have all of our VMs installed in an on-premises FlexPod.

We have another filter down in our DR site and everything is replicated using SnapProtect and SnapSuite.

The validated designs for major enterprise applications are very important to our organization. We have to make sure that everything is fully supported, end to end, and that we're not going to have any problems. When people have trouble they resort to finger-pointing and complain about the network, servers, or storage. With the one validated design, we contact NetApp and get support for everything we need.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has had a serious impact on our organization. How do you measure not having outages? It has allowed us to do business without any interruptions, which means that I can sleep well at night. After the last hurricane, we were completely up once it ended because we just brought up all of the VMs using VMware.

With respect to the history of innovations, the strategy that NetApp has taken with Cloud volumes online, Azure NetApp files, and all of those things, is good. We've already started using cloud volumes online and we're putting in a new solution with NetApp where we're going to be tiering everything off to Azure because we have a huge presence there. For example, we have an SQL server there, and we're going to be replacing the drives that are on SQL with Cloud Volumes Online so that we can leverage efficiencies. Other data, such as shares, are also going to be tiered off to Azure so that we don't have to be using production cycles, production backups and IOPS and everything, locally. We're instead going to send it to cloud storage.

Using FlexPod has absolutely made our staff more efficient.

This solution has increased our application performance, but we have been using this solution since 2003 and no longer keep metrics.

Our data center costs have been reduced because we've been able to shrink our data center. About ten years ago, we were at about one hundred and seventy servers. Now, we're down to eight blades. We've gone from seven racks down to two racks in the data center, and if you think about power, cooling, and everything else, it's a significant saving.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are efficiency and simplicity. You don't have to waste a lot of time managing things.

What needs improvement?

We have had some problems with SnapSuite and the replication functionality.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution since 2003.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is extremely stable, rock-solid.

We haven't had any failures, hardware-wise, in several years. The only issues that we have had were with SnapSuite, and it was related to replication. For this issue, we engaged with technical support.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

The unified support for the entire stack is extremely important for us. Anytime we have an issue, even though we haven't had any recently, we need to get it resolved as quickly as possible. Having a single vendor to go to for everything just makes it that much easier.

When we have had to contact technical support, they were very responsive, they follow up, and they take ownership of the issues right away. I would rate them a five out of five. 

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

We have always been using NetApp, although about twelve years ago we went through consolidation. We had Dell storage, some Hitachi, some IBM storage, and then we had a NetApp filer. Our multi-vendor hardware came about from purchasing the cheapest thing that we could get when something else was needed.

When we met with our NetApp rep, they came in and suggested that we consolidate. We had been having trouble with backups, using Syncsort, and they suggested that we move to SnapProtect and get everything on NetApp. They helped us to take everything off of all the other storage, consolidate down to NetApp, and then replace our entire backup solution with SnapSuite and SnapProtect. After that, they made sure that everything would replicate back up to the DR site.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution is fairly straightforward. Obviously, you need to know what storage systems are being used, etc, but in general, it is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We use Insight, formerly Datalink, to assist us with the maintenance of this solution. They are excellent. They helped with our implementation and they help us to deploy all of the solutions. If we have any questions about designs, where we are going in terms of the roadmap, etc, then between Insight and NetApp they are invaluable when helping us to make decisions.

What was our ROI?

I would say that we have seen ROI, although I do not have numbers to support it.

What other advice do I have?

I am looking forward to using the cloud enablement that they have been working on.

In the last three years, I lost money that was budgeted for capital expenditures, meaning that I have had to give it back because I literally have nothing to buy. We do have operating expenses and we have the capability, but everything that we are doing is moving into Azure, using managed services and software as a service. This means that we've been reducing our hardware footprint significantly. Especially with the efficiencies that NetApp brings, we don't need as much storage space.

My advice for anybody researching this solution is to evaluate your workloads.

NetApp is definitely the way to go.

I would rate this solution a ten 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.
JamesThomas1
Technical Consultant at Venn IT solutions
Consultant
A stable and efficient solution for our primary network infrastructure
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is the stability."
  • "I would like to see a more centralized support model."

What is our primary use case?

We have a custom-built FlexPod with a Cisco 6332-16FI and an AH-700.

It is being used as our primary network infrastructure.

The solution’s validated designs are pretty important for major enterprise apps in our organization. We follow them to make sure that we're compliant.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution runs our VMs. Our SQL databases, for example, are in our VMs, so everything is virtualized.

Implementing this solution has made our staff more efficient because once it is built, it's a matter of provisioning additional VMs. It's pretty simplified.

I think that with the new all-flash array, our application performance has been improved.

We did not have very much unplanned downtime before implementing our current solution, so I can't say that our new solution is much different in that regard.

This solution has probably not reduced our data center costs because our previous solution was relatively small. It was just one rack.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the stability.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a more centralized support model.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

To this point, stability has been good. We have had no downtime since I built this solution.

In our previous FlexPod, I think that both of the UCS-FIs went down during the firmware upgrade. That caused an outage. I do not know all of the details because that was before I joined the company.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can expand using additional chassis and additional disk shelves.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's unified support for the entire stack is beneficial. Basically, it's kind of all-in-one.

The technical support for this solution is ok, although we dislike using the online robot. It's caused delays in us reaching out to a real support engineer.

How was the initial setup?

I built the current FlexPod and it was pretty straightforward.

We had another FlexPod that was built by somebody else. It's easy to build and we are in the process of migrating all of the workloads over. We're always refreshed.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I also have experience with Vblock.

What other advice do I have?

We do not use the solution’s storage tiering to the public cloud. We are not using the cloud at all for the moment.

My advice for anybody who is implementing this solution is to engage some type of professional services just to set it up if they are unfamiliar with the technology.

This is a solution that I recommend, and if you're already familiar with other similar technologies then it is pretty simple to put it together.

We do not have the license for NDME yet, and we would like to see how much improvement it is over our current setup.

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.
Infrastructure Engineer at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
Real User
Simple management, good automation, and has lowered our total cost of ownership
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is the automation point because it's a lot less staff to have to manage it."
  • "We would like to see the automation improved because there has been a learning curve having to create the workflows."

What is our primary use case?

We use this system for the performance, cost of ownership, agility, expandability of it, and the automation.

I manage this solution, but I don't think of the FlexPod solution on a whole. I manage all of the individual components including Cisco UCS Manager, UCS Director, and UCS Central. I work with all of the storage devices including the flash arrays and the filers. I work with the switches via Flex channel or on the ethernet side.

We use the solution's tiering to a public cloud for archival purposes. We have everything in-house for the most part, but there is some data that is not that critical but needs to be archived because of government regulations. We have to keep it for quite some time.

With respect to the history of innovation, it has affected our ease of use, cost of ownership, we use less manpower to manage it, and we have better uptime. As far as disaster recovery, that's been a really big plus because we have the two fabrics. 

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has definitely simplified our infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. It's a simple process, for example, the way you create the cloud pools. It's not complicated and very transparent.

Our staff has been made more efficient by using this solution, enabling them to spend time on other tasks. Basically, they have time to do things other than managing FlexPod. It includes day-to-day operations, working on and closing support tickets, and other mundane activities.

Our application performance has increased since we implemented this solution. One a scale of one to ten we were probably at five, and now we're at a nine.

The number of unplanned downtime incidents has absolutely decreased since we started using this solution. We went from having maybe a hundred tickets a month down to perhaps ten.

This solution has helped reduce our data center costs because everything is centralized now and we don't have to have multiple data centers, with equipment from different vendors, different support contracts, and so on.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature of this solution is the automation point because it's a lot less staff to have to manage it.

What needs improvement?

We would like to see the automation improved because there has been a learning curve having to create the workflows. They're looking at other automation tools, including one from Red Hat called Ansible. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable. It has never gone down. We've had issues that were attributed to user error, but if everything is done correctly on it then you're not going to have to worry about any downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is very scalable. UCS, itself, will scale up to twenty chassis and you have eight slots in each one. That's scalability. The same thing with storage. If you need to add more disk shelves then you just add them. As far as bandwidth goes, we have seven Ks up into the core, which is over a terabyte worth of bandwidth right there.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's unified support is very important to us. It's just one number to call and then we get supported on all of the different components.

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate their technical support a nine.

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

Prior to this solution, I had experience with Vblocks. It is basically the same product, but on the storage side it uses all EMC and the compute is all UCS. All of the networking is still Cisco, VMware is still VMware.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution requires some training. Once you learn it then everything is simple, but in getting to that point, there is a bit of learning curve. The complexity comes from having so many different components.

The need to have skills from several different backgrounds. You need to have experience as a network administrator, a network engineer, a storage administrator, and a virtualization expert. It is a four-technology domain that includes network, compute, storage, and virtualization. Then you have a server administrator, and you have to combine all of these roles into one person. That is where the learning curve comes from.

What about the implementation team?

On the Vblock side, they use VCE, but I don't know who they use on the FlexPod side.

What other advice do I have?

We use Cisco validated designs but we don't do our own designs.

Our decision to implement this solution was not influenced by the fact that it integrates with all of the major public clouds.

FlexPod gives you the ability to manage the system in a simplified way. It gives you automation capability, which means a lot less manpower to manage it. Power and cooling requirements are lower. The total cost of ownership is lower. Finally, it just gives staff more freedom to do some of the other mundane day-to-day operations.

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
Senior Systems Engineer at First Ontario Credit Union
Real User
Intuitive, easy to use, and adds efficiency to our organization
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable features of this solution are the integration and ease of use."
  • "This is an expensive solution."

What is our primary use case?

We're in a financial institute and we have two data centers. We use this solution for all of our applications.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps are very useful for us from an engineering standpoint.

In terms of simplifying our infrastructure, we do not use the cloud right now.

FlexPod has saved our organization in terms of capital expenditures, although I cannot say by how much at this time.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution makes it easier for us, as engineers, to do a lot of design and a lot of the pre-work that goes into things. It is good in that respect.

This solution's history of innovations affected our operations because by using all-flash, we've sped up applications that couldn't do what they do because they were inefficient. These inefficiently-built applications needed more resources, so we used all-flash to compensate.

Generally speaking, application performance has been improved through the use of all-flash storage.

Using this solution has made our staff more efficient because they are spending less time fiddling with the backend stuff. It is more intuitive.

This solution has not had much effect on our unplanned downtime, but we did not have much before.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the integration and ease of use. The integration is intuitive.

This solution is easy to learn. There is nothing hidden, and it's all available for you.

What needs improvement?

This is an expensive solution.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have run into any issues yet, so as far as I can see, stability is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is easily scalable, and we have scaled quite a bit.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't had many cases where we have needed NetApp technical support. When we have, it has been quick and efficient.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved with the initial setup, but I can say that the work we have done with revamping the solution has been straightforward and simple.

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller to assist us with our original implementation.

Since that time, we have done half of the work ourselves.

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

FlexPod is expensive but from my perspective, it is worth the cost. I say this because of the ease of use and performance benefits.

What other advice do I have?

The fact that FlexPod integrates with all major public clouds did not specifically influence our decision to go with it.

I would rate this solution a nine 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.
Cloud Service Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Highly scalable solution that has been very stable
Pros and Cons
  • "The guides that we use to install FlexPods are always up-to-date. This is really helpful, especially if there is a new product with NetApp moving so far forward and Cisco as well. For them to join together and update a centralized document for the install process, it is really good. It helps us understand if there are features from the first version that we installed while upgrading that we need to implement. Those are in the document. So, we find that document useful and helpful when moving forward."
  • "It would be nice to have something like an automated, upgrade solution The tasks needed to upgrade the hardware within FlexPod are still quite behind compared to some of its other aspects. That's more on the Cisco side."

What is our primary use case?

It's a tenant environment. We sell it off to customers who need an environment, depending on the scale of their company, where there might be a couple of servers or 100 to 200 servers.

We are our own cloud provider. We use VMware vCloud Director because we provide that to our customers.

For UCS, we are on version 6.2. For NetApp, we are on 9.5.

How has it helped my organization?

Our private cloud sector of our company has grown exponentially thanks to the ease of deployment of the FlexPod architecture. We are also able to deploy a console to customers who want on-prem environments in a smaller deployment structure with a UCS Mini and direct-attached storage. So, it's helped us exponentially grow the business.

All-flash has helped the company a lot, especially for business critical applications. We found that customers want more performance than ever based on what is out there in the market. We find that innovation and integration with the whole FlexPod design has helped a lot.

What is most valuable?

The guides that we use to install FlexPods are always up-to-date. This is really helpful, especially if there is a new product with NetApp moving so far forward and Cisco as well. For them to join together and update a centralized document for the install process, it is really good. It helps us understand if there are features from the first version that we installed while upgrading that we need to implement. Those are in the document. So, we find that document useful and helpful when moving forward.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization is very important. It helps us to understand what we need to do and deliver, doing it at a supported level for our customers.

What needs improvement?

It would be nice to have something like an automated, upgrade solution The tasks needed to upgrade the hardware within FlexPod are still quite behind compared to some of its other aspects. That's more on the Cisco side. For the NetApp side, the upgrade process is quite simple. It's been simplified. So, that's something that could be looked at.

It has gone to HTML5, but it's still quite a bit bland. It still seems a bit like there were some features in the Java version that are quite hard to get into in the HTML5 version of UCS Manager, where you go to a profile and you need to drag it in. You can't move the box across. All the boxes are different sizes. If you have a lot of names, then you can't move it across, which is quite annoying when you're trying to do it.

I would like more with the integration pieces, e.g., more with the REST APIs to be able to access it remotely.

The footprint in the data center is quite large, especially when you scale out. Maybe find some hardware in the future, where if a new blade comes out, then Cisco can say, "Look, we'll buy those blades back off you, and we'll give you this blade for X amount of money." A buyback scheme would be good for hardware, and even NetApp as well. Something like a buyback scheme for blades and stuff moving forward would be good, because I know that they're going to put more power into them. E.g., replacing four blades might equal one blade, which would be awesome, but we are still going to have those four blades around. Maybe having something where it will give you this much money for these blades so we can upgrade. That would be perfect. 

With the upgrading, making that a little bit more streamlined and a bit easier to do, so it doesn't require as many man hours to do. I would like prerequisites for an upgrade.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. Since we've had it in, knock on wood, it's been absolutely flawless. We've had some issues, but that's to do with the upgrades and mainly with the fabric interconnects, and they can be a bit finicky. They're not as robust. They're robust in a way if you don't touch them, they look fine. But, in the upgrade process, we've had a lot of issues where there would either be corrupted images or they wouldn't upgrade, which would cause one of the switches to fail. Some of that stuff is very worrying. But from a performance perspective, it's worked as it should.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's highly scalable. It scales really well, but that also comes back to how you want to scale it. In terms of whether you want to add more chassis and if you want to add anything more to that. Then, that comes under the costings of the data center because the chassis are quite big. However, the scalability of it is perfect. We haven't had an issues with it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is pretty good. I would give it a seven or eight out of 10. A full 10 would be having the automated upgrading, getting them to do the upgrades, as that would take a lot of time off us having to do them. I am sure that there is a team you can get for that support, but it's quite expensive. Maybe that type of support for upgrades can be bundled in when someone buys a FlexPod deployment. Most of our time on the environment is spent on upgrading of the infrastructure.

We have really good support from NetApp. We get really good, really fast support from Cisco, as well. E.g., if there is a failed memory chip in one of the host servers that needs replacements, they are always on time. They send it out when they need to, and if the problem is not resolved, then they move that forward to the next tier.

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

We used NetApp from the start. Before my time, I'm not too sure what they were using. I think before it was just storage on servers, like integrated in. As long as I've been here, I've been using NetApp. 

At the time we went with that solution, public clouds didn't exist. However, knowing that it does integrate with public clouds is an absolute bonus. It's awesome because we're moving towards that type of integration. Knowing this makes our lives a lot easier because we don't have to move from where we are to get to where we want to go. We've already got what we want, which is absolutely amazing. So, it's great.

We are very strong NetApp partners.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. Complexity was added more from a customer perspective, where you need that custom setup for what they require. With the bundle, we did get to go to training for FlexPod's deployment and that sort of area. That also helped us a lot to understand the nuts and bolts and detail of what it is as well, which helped a lot with that knowledge.

What about the implementation team?

We work with Cisco and NetApp for the deployment. The guides are absolutely intuitive. You go from start to finish, deploying it all in one. In terms of time, we have used them to reference different aspects of how we should set it up if there are custom requirements, because not all deployments are put it in and deploy it as we go. We have had some custom requirements over time, but the initial one was just straight in and cable. It was quite intuitive for us, which was good. We didn't need for anyone to come out and install it.

What was our ROI?

I haven't seen ROI.

From an application point of view, customers have seen an improvement in response times for mainly database-based applications, and the need to have a lot of reads and writes for all-flash storage. The upgrades with the hosts from UCS to the new blades with PASA processes and more memory have also improved.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

From a flexible deployment and scalability point of view, we got NetApp. From enterprise and beyond, they are doing above and beyond anything that anyone else is doing at the moment.

Cisco are the leaders in LAN technology. With their hardware for unified communication of the UCS bundle, it's so straightforward and easy to set up. It integrates with a lot of other major vendors, which makes our lives a lot easier.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely support integrating FlexPod within a company, depending on their requirements. Even if it wasn't a a full, flexible deployment, just having a smaller deployment of the UCS Mini with a smaller NetApp for a customer, it is so scalable. You can do it for a smaller customer to an enterprise customer. I would fully support them implementing this into a data center based on their requirements.

The solution has made our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward, but there's still a lot of manual overhead that needs to be done. We're installing new chassis or upgrades. Upgrades is a really big one.

We find that the UCS shells are still quite power intensive. Maybe moving forward to the new releases of the blades that they have in their FlexPod deployment, we might be able to change a couple of blades to one blade because the power is exactly the same. They have the same quality of processing and memory. Right now, we find that it does take up a lot of space and power. Hopefully, in the future, once we do go through the upgrade process, pull out the old blades, and whatever we need to replace, we might do that.

I would rate it a nine out of 10. Nothing is perfect. You always have that one percent where you say, "Aw, I wish it was doing this," but at the end of the day, it can't. You're always going to be a bit picky.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
HammadSikander
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.
Systems Administrator at a healthcare company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Decreased unplanned downtime and increased application performance
Pros and Cons
  • "We have significantly less latency now with our imagery."
  • "The solution has not reduced our data center costs."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is storage for medical imagery.

How has it helped my organization?

We have significantly less latency now with our imagery.

It certainly has increased the speed of operations.

The solution has made our staff more efficient because it is easier to manage. This has enabled them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. From a management perspective, the interface is much easier to use.

What is most valuable?

Reliability and convenience are its most valuable features.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are fairly important. Speed-wise, we are not having any latency issues.

What needs improvement?

The solution has not reduced our data center costs.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have no issues with the stability at all. It's a very stable platform.

The solution has decreased unplanned downtime incidents in our organization by 15 percent.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I'm very impressed with the scalability of the solution. It can be expanded almost infinitely.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good.

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

Our old solution was horrible and slow. We were using Dell EMC. We switched due to perceived latency.

How was the initial setup?

It was very simple and straightforward. I had it racked within half a day and connected.

What about the implementation team?

For deployment, we used NetApp personnel and a reseller. The experiences with them were good.

What was our ROI?

The solution has improved application performance in our organization by 30 percent.

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

Our licensing costs are about $50,000 per year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Dynamics was on our vendor shortlist. 

We chose FlexPod after consulting with the vendor and NetApp.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely consider NetApp. I would rate the product as a 10 out of 10 because it is fantastic. 

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.
Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Increases time to do research and process development
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are very important. It's basically become critical to our organization to have that system functioning a 100 percent of the time. If that system is not functional, then our doctors and nurses can't provide the care to the patients in an effective way. So, it's important that it is stable, works, and easy to understand."
  • "There is a history of issues with hardware availability. For example, we'll buy an array or a filer with a particular configuration and particular size of drive, sizing it appropriately. Then, as we grow, they're like, "Oh, you can always get more." Then when you go to get more, that model or type of disk is no longer available. It becomes this big process to try to figure out what we need to get, how it'll work, and how that'll integrate into the system. That could be simpler. They could do a bit more to guarantee the availability of parts. Obviously, not being the largest storage vendor, I know they can't sometimes control what the hardware vendors do. However, a bit more transparency and communication about this would be helpful."

What is our primary use case?

We are using for the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for our hospital.

We are using a primary and secondary data center model. We have two locations where one is the primary and the other is the DR.

How has it helped my organization?

Essentially, it's reduced some of the overhead from our team of administrators, so they can focus on other areas.

The solution has simplified infrastructure from edge to core to cloud, which has given us some bandwidth to focus on some other core initiatives that we have.

The solution has made our staff more efficient, enabling them to spend time on tasks that drive our business forward. With the administration, it's given us a bit more time to do research and process development, even investing some time in automation.

What is most valuable?

We had everything that we needed to start it, stand it up, and get it working, then develop a proof of concept to see how it works. We could also scale it out to meet our business needs over time.

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are very important. It's basically become critical to our organization to have that system functioning a 100 percent of the time. If that system is not functional, then our doctors and nurses can't provide the care to the patients in an effective way. So, it's important that it is stable, works, and easy to understand.

What needs improvement?

There is a history of issues with hardware availability. For example, we'll buy an array or a filer with a particular configuration and particular size of drive, sizing it appropriately. Then, as we grow, they're like, "Oh, you can always get more." Then when you go to get more, that model or type of disk is no longer available. 

It becomes this big process to try to figure out what we need to get, how it'll work, and how that'll integrate into the system. That could be simpler. They could do a bit more to guarantee the availability of parts. Obviously, not being the largest storage vendor, I know they can't sometimes control what the hardware vendors do. However, a bit more transparency and communication about this would be helpful.

For how long have I used the solution?

We put it in about two and a half years ago.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution has decreased unplanned downtime incidents in our organization. So far, it's been very stable. We haven't really had any issues with it.

We did have one issue which was related to a misconfiguration with the power that did cause downtime. That was the first issue that we had since we put it in about two and a half years ago.

There was a misconfiguration with the power configuration. This relates to UCS where it was set to the grid incorrectly. Then, based on the population of the blades, it was overpopulated and there was a power issue. One of the circuits was actually connected to a low voltage circuit which caused some issues. With that, we lost almost the entire chassis for a period of time. It was not fun.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is just a system that we can scale as we need.

The scalability is good. We're in the process of systematically replacing all of the desktop computing environment in our health system with the VDI. Our plan is to take what we have and grow it to meet that need.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support a few times, mostly just for questions. 

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is really important. We can't ever find ourselves in a situation where something is down, and it's integrated with another vendor application and we're looking for support, that all the vendors are pointing fingers at each other. One of the requirements that we have for standing up a system like this is that it has this type of support.

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

We had primarily used another vendor for our Tier 1 storage applications, then when the all-flash options came out, they were seemed to be doing better. It was a more reliable, well-developed product. We actually switched when we upgraded our existing arrays to the all-flash offerings that NetApp had.

I wasn't the primary person for a good portion of the time that we've had it. Now that I've taken over that role, I'll be digging into it a lot more.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is complex, but not unreasonable. There is a lot to learn. There is a lot to do to make sure that all of the versioning is compatible. I know NetApp offers some tools if you're not familiar with it or you haven't done it before. I'm not sure that I've seen everything or know all the places to look for that information. So, it can be a little anxiety provoking in that sense.

What about the implementation team?

We have a partner through NetApp who does consulting for us. They came in and helped us configure it. The experience of working with them was good.

What was our ROI?

The main return on investment would be that instead of having to refresh all of our desktop hardware we have been able to go reimage existing machines and use those as thin clients, then also purchase new thin clients rather than buying actual hardware. It also reduces the overhead of having our technicians deploy those systems and maintain them.

If there are cost savings, they are are minimal, whether it's CAPEX or OPE. They balance out, as the vendors get paid one way or another.

What other advice do I have?

Develop a relationship with a partner. Those resources for us have been invaluable.

I would probably rate it about an eight (out of 10). That's just because it does meet the needs, but It's not perfect. Nothing is. There are some features or advertisements about what its capabilities are, but when dig into it or you get down the road, it's not exactly what it was advertised as.

We are experimenting with the solution’s storage tiering to public cloud right now. We haven't really gotten too far into it, but that's something that we're actually looking to do.

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.
Principal Infrastructure Engineer at a healthcare company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Allows managers to provision additional VMs
Pros and Cons
  • "It runs our VMs. Our SQL databases are all on VMs, so everything is virtualized."
  • "We dislike going online with the robot stuff. Many times, it has delayed our reaching out to a real support engineer."

What is our primary use case?

It is our primary on-premise infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

It runs our VMs. Our SQL databases are all on VMs, so everything is virtualized.

Once the FlexPod is built, managers provision additional VMs. So, it's pretty simplified.

With the all-flash array, I think it did improve application performance in our organization.

What is most valuable?

The solution’s validated designs for major enterprise apps in our organization are very important. We just followed them to make sure the CVD was compliant or matched to what they designed.

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack is beneficial. It is all in one.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more of a centralized support model because we have all the FlexPod components and we hand build them. So, if we have issues with one particular stack, we're talking to individual vendors, e.g., for UCS, I have to call Cisco, and for storage, I have to call NetApp.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, the stability has been good. We haven't had downtime or issues since I built it. 

The old one did have some outages. The old UCS FIs went down during the firmware upgrade.

Our stuff usually doesn't go down, so the unplanned downtime isn't worse or better than before.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our department is pretty small.

Our models are pretty small. So, we'll be able to expand additional chassis in place, then additional disk shelves.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had to file tech support cases. Our experience with them is okay. We dislike going online with the robot stuff. Many times, it has delayed our reaching out to a real support engineer.

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

When I came onboard, they had already purchased it. I just put everything together.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is pretty straightforward. 

My recommendation: If you are not familiar with the technology, you probably should engage some type of professional services to set it up.

What about the implementation team?

We hand built our FlexPod environment. It is composed of a Cisco UCS 6332-16UP FI, NetApp AFF A700, and an NDS.

It was easy to build. We had an old FlexPod built by someone else and I built the new one. We're in the process of migrating all the workloads over.

What was our ROI?

It hasn't decreased our data center cost by much. It just one rack replaced by another.

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

I heard the NVMe stuff is coming around. We don't have that license or that feature yet. So, we probably will try it out and see how much improvement that's over our current setup.

What other advice do I have?

Give it a shot. If you are experienced with other types of technologies already, it's pretty simple to put it together.

I would rate the solution as an eight (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Principal Architect at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
MSP
Shrinks your footprint in a data center and allows for easy cloud interaction, migration, and deployment
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution’s unified support for the entire stack provides one stop shopping."
  • "I would like more support for different platforms, possibly different database platforms. I don't know if it supports Oracle today, but that would be a big improvement."

What is our primary use case?

Over the last year, we've implemented several solutions with FlexPod. We implemented whatever the latest version is. I know we just put one in that was the latest version in a New Jersey school.

Our customers are using on-premise. It's all on premise, but we have implemented solutions that are more hybrid where they are deploying a model where they want their app dev groups to be able to deploy resources much easier to an on-premise infrastructure, as compared to an AWS subscription.

Generally, it's a mix between Azure and AWS. That's what we're seeing from customers overall. 

How has it helped my organization?

For a large food distributor using FlexPod, we were able to move them away from traditional server storage, networking, etc. This allowed them to have the ability in both data centers to have hybridity where the FlexPod infrastructure was local and wasn't hosted, then using cloud automation (mainly AWS) and being able to deploy company resources for their teams.

This really opened up a lot of doors for them. Their CIO's mantra was sort of cloud first. Well, here's a way to start on that journey and keep some of your stuff local. I think everybody knows you can't just forklift everything to the cloud. You need cloud readiness assessments: What are your application dependencies and tools that are you using? This is how we came up with the FlexPod approach.

The solution has decreased unplanned downtime incidents at our customers' organizations, specifically in the database and SQL realms. We are talking to some of our customers about containerization as well.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features is its ability to be able to have multiple options. It can be fully on-premise, it can be hosted, or it can be the hybrid model. For customers, this is the biggest windfall. 

Having the combined Cisco/NetApp platforms. Having the configuration options to tailor it a certain way. This Is a windfall as well, having options for configuration: small, medium, large, etc. Because every customer is different, and there's no cookie cutter.

It is very important that the solution validates the design for major enterprises. We rely on the validated design, specifically for the customer. When you look at the designs and what you have in mind, the prerequisites have already been done for you. So, it was easy to make the fit a little easier for each customer. Each customer being different.

The solution simplifies infrastructure from edge to core to cloud. It definitely simplifies it and aids in going to that journey. Cloud is the last piece of that route and this gives a seamless way to do this.

The solution’s unified support for the entire stack provides one stop shopping.

Data centers are shrinking. These solutions are part of that. Being able to have these solutions which will shrink your footprint in the data center and allow for easy cloud interaction, migration, and deployment.

What needs improvement?

I would like more support for different platforms, possibly different database platforms. I don't know if it supports Oracle today, but that would be a big improvement.

As the product matures, being able to support the things that customers are really looking at. FlexPod is supporting more containerizations, and that's a step in the right direction.

For how long have I used the solution?

I just started working with it. I have only been with my company for about six weeks.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's increased exponentially over time. I'm hearing a lot of this from my peers, as FlexPod has been out for a while now. With the improvements to the different versions, the stability has improved quite a bit.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Though, I don't had any case examples of where we've had to scale it in terms of customer experience.

How was the initial setup?

This is my understanding, since I don't deploy it. The initial setup is very straightforward compared to its competitors. Compared to an HPE solution, it is exponentially easier to set up. I know that as a fact.

What was our ROI?

It's sort of the one throat to choke philosophy. The customers in particular don't have to call here. If it's easy to get support, it isolates the problem on whatever stack you're running on. So, FlexPod supports multiple stacks. It doesn't just support one hypervisor or site.

The solution has saved our customers' organization in terms of CapEx. E.g., with the cloud availability, it's turned into sort of a hybrid CapEx/OpEx model.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I'm only delving into this solution over the last six weeks or so. I don't have the same level of expertise with FlexPod as I do with other solutions. I'm getting there slowly; trial by fire.

I came from a much larger integrated reseller. I worked more with FlexPods competitors where they really want to have these connectors and bolt-ons in place to be able to deploy something to Azure. As easy as it is to do it to an on-prem infrastructure, that's really where it's going for a lot of the commercial space.

For my current organization, it's opened up a whole new door for us as a NetApp partner to be able to have a competitive product against Dell EMC, HPE, etc., and to what I think to a degree is a better product in most cases, to go after that business. We go after the different verticals as well because we are in both the public sector and commercial space. So, these are much different verticals. Thus, you need to be able to the scalable solution. You need a solution that can meet the needs of these customers. When you're dealing with a healthcare versus a hedge fund, it is very different. Certain other companies they didn't have the same, they weren't able to scale or fit in these verticals.

Put them side by side. Do your diligence. There are other vendors out there. There are three other big players in this field: Dell EMC, Nutanix, and HPE. Obviously, each customer is different. But, if you're really looking at a true solution for hybridity with the ability to deploy to the cloud, take a real good hard look at the FlexPod CI solution.

We sell other products, and there are times because of the customer's relationship with another vendor that we might go with a different solution. However, we certainly look at putting them side by side.

What other advice do I have?

The product improves over time, it's definitely helped in all-flash CI, private and hybrid cloud deployment, secure-multi-tenancy, end-to-end NVMW, and cloud storage tiering.

We are talking to customers about the solution’s storage tiering to public cloud, but we haven't implemented anything yet.

I would rate them a nine (out of 10). I don't think anybody rates a 10, but FlexPod is close.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Network Engineering Manager at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Flexible, scalable solution for building and managing data centers and hosting customer data
Pros and Cons
  • "The ease of set up is probably the most valuable feature for us."
  • "We use technical support from time to time. Most of the time if we really need assistance we end up having to get above the tier one support. We're able to do a lot of the tier one troubleshooting on our own."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Taylor Brown
Cloud Infrastructure Engineer at Payments Canada
Real User
The workload for individuals is faster and our employees can accomplish their responsibilities in less time
Pros and Cons
  • "All-flash storage and low latency I/O enhance performance."
  • "The cost may be high compared to other solutions."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

The initial installation was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented through Paramount.

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at a legal firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
A resilient solution to host our ESX environment, with only a single call required for support
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature of this solution is that there is one call for support."
  • "It would be helpful to have more flexibility for adding other components."

What is our primary use case?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

More than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
MSP
Validated designs take the guesswork out of our IaaS
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution can be innovative when it comes to cloud computing storage and networking."
  • "The FlexPod service and support could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Ahmed Jehanzeb
Infrastructure Engineer at Suntrust Bank
Real User
Flexible and innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution can be innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. FlexPod is very flexible and innovative. We can design it as we like."
  • "I would like to see more cloud-centric modules that are specific to applications and more software-based solutions. That's all that is missing."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

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

FlexPod reduced our data center costs by around 20%.

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Architect at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Runs all of our mission-critical applications, and the cost benefits are obvious
Pros and Cons
  • "The Validated Designs are very good because they act as a reference to see whether we have done things properly."
  • "It would be very helpful if the upgrades for Cisco, VMware, and NetApp could be bundled together and performed at the same time."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

Almost four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is very good.

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

It is very resilient. The resiliency is obvious.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We use a qualified reseller for all our Cisco procurements.

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Overall, this is definitely a good product.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at Department of Homeland Security
Real User
Increased staff productivity and has simplified our support experience
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod impacted us by making things easier to deploy. The solution is a private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environment. That's very important to us. We're doing a lot of hybrid cloud."
  • "We haven't seen ROI yet."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for FlexPod is providing cloud services.

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the automation.

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable and resilient. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

FlexPod is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

The solution's technical support is knowledgeable.

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

We came in and the solution had already been installed.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of FlexPod was straightforward.

What was our ROI?

We haven't seen ROI yet. 

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is really stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a very scalable solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate technical support a nine out of ten.

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

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

FlexPod was recommended by our architect and vendor, WWT.

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

Our licensing fees are on a yearly basis.

What other advice do I have?

I highly recommend this solution.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Mohit Mittal
AGM at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Stable private cloud solution that has reduced our deployment time
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution has granular scalability."
  • "I would be interested to see more integration with other applications."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

It has also allowed us to streamline our IT administration.

What is most valuable?

The integration is something else.

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

The solution has granular scalability.

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support has been okay.

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We used a reseller for the integration. 

What was our ROI?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at DHS USCIS
Real User
Fast and flexible, but the user interface needs to be more intuitive
Pros and Cons
  • "This solution has given us a great deal of on-site storage that we didn't have before."
  • "The graphical interface could be made easier to use and more intuitive."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

It has streamlined our IT admin.

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is improving.

How was the initial setup?

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

This solution has reduced deployment time. 

What about the implementation team?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

This solution was implemented before I joined the company.

What other advice do I have?

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

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Practice Lead at Bedroc
Real User
A good solution for integrating compute, networking and storage in data centers with easy deployment
Pros and Cons
  • "The product is easy to deploy and use."
  • "It could be more innovative."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer service is above average.

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

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

How was the initial setup?

The installation was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
User at a tech services company with 5,001-10,000 employees
MSP
The agility reduces the number of hours that it takes to construct a physical or virtual data center
Pros and Cons
  • "It reduces the time required to dynamically provide applications to our end users and developers."
  • "It takes a very sophisticated group of people to run and maintain NetApp and Cisco products."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We do the implementations.

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for FlexPod is for better storage.

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

FlexPod needs more support on ML/AI networks.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

FlexPod is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
RajeshSrinivasan
Director at HCL Technologies
Real User
Reduced the complexity of our network monitoring but the setup is complex
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod has affected the workload of our network admin team awesomely. We have fewer employees. It's good."
  • "The initial setup for FlexPod is complex."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is very good. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good.

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for FlexPod is complex.

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultancy company for the implementation. 

What other advice do I have?

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

FlexPod supports both traditional and SCN reduced costs.

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

I believe that FlexPod is the best solution. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Engineer at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
An all-in-one solution that helps our teams work better together
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature is that it is all-in-one, and it is easy to get support on it."
  • "There are times where we have had issues with technical support."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of stability, it is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation in-house.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Sr Network Solution Engineer at InterVision Systems Technologies
Real User
Provides HA, fault tolerance, and DR to our customers while saving on data center costs
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable features are the Fabric Interconnect Manager and the UCS Manager."
  • "There are too many drivers and software combined all together, and we need to have compatibility between all of them."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What other advice do I have?

Using this product makes our life easy.

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

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

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

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Sr Platform Manager at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Makes it easy to grow our data center, but the management tools need to keep improving
Pros and Cons
  • "This solution has helped to make more things consistent within our organization."
  • "On the NetApp side, there are definitely things to improve in terms of software updates."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Corp Solutions Engineer - Network at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees
MSP
A resilient solution with a lot of flexibility that is easy to support
Pros and Cons
  • "It's a kind of one-stop shop as far as support goes."
  • "The biggest thing that I would like to see is more cost-effective FlexPod solutions."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very, very stable. 

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support for this solution is very good.

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Justin Wasden
Director of Datacenter with 51-200 employees
Real User
Saves us time in setup and maintenance, but we need an option to skip Tier-I technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "It is definitely easier for us to maintain and do build-outs, so it takes a lot less time to set things up for the customer."
  • "As we do much of the Tier-I support ourselves, and thus don't normally need it, there is time wasted in moving up to the next level."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

We have used technical support from time to time.

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house.

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Infrastructure Engineer at TechnipFMC
Real User
A high-performance solution that runs all of our workloads, including mission-critical apps
Pros and Cons
  • "The biggest lesson that I have learned from this solution is the ease of actually setting it up and learning it."
  • "The procedure for contacting technical support could be simplified."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

The procedure for contacting technical support could be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

Between three and four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty much straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only looked at Cisco at the time.

What other advice do I have?

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

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

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
John Capobianco
Senior IT Planner Integrator at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Offers developers the compute and storage they need
Pros and Cons
  • "The agility is probably the most valuable feature for us. It's very easy to send out resources."
  • "I'd like to see some more Ansible integration for automation purposes. We automate everything else with Ansible, so it would be great if we could automate our FlexPod with Ansible as well."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for our development workloads.

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FlexPod does help streamline our IT admin.

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think it can scale highly.

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
System Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Very stable and has increased delivery and integration speeds
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod is easy to setup, maintain and has great stability."
  • "One touch upgrades would be nice."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod primarily for automation and growing capacity.

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

One touch upgrades would be nice.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

We use Infinidat and EMC. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
IT Engineer at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
A scalable solution with good data services, but the usability needs to be improved
Pros and Cons
  • "All of our main applications run on this solution, and it has done a stellar job."
  • "This solution is very hard to maintain and keep up."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this solution is infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

This solution is very hard to maintain and keep up.

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

We have seen a return on investment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

I would rate this solution a six out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Rock solid platform, good redundancy, and ease of management, and the upgrade process is smooth and non-disruptive
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod has improved our company as far as ease of management, stability, and redundancy."
  • "The initial learning curve is pretty steep."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

Redundancy and stability are the most valuable attributes for us.

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

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

FlexPod also reduces the time required to deploy our application.

What needs improvement?

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

The initial learning curve is pretty steep.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is good.

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

Our older solutions were not as reliable.

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Alex Tsui
Senior Solution Engineer at a comms service provider with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Mature Converged Infrastructure for Mission-Critical Workloads
Pros and Cons
  • "For FlexPod, it is always trustworthy. I had previously never seen flex machines from other brands or associated with other products. FlexPod is a large investment and they are good enough to support it."
  • "Installation with FlexPod is a bit complex, but it can be upgraded easily. I think Flexpod is phasing out, but it is still the right solution."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

We have been using FlexPod here for about 10 years.

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
EricKutyla
Senior System Administrator at Bell Canada
Real User
Stability is rock solid. With all the built in redundancy within the product, I find it very resilient.
Pros and Cons
  • "The initial setup is straightforward. It is all interface-based, so point and click."
  • "It is innovative because it's bare metal and you can customize it easily. This brings a lot of benefits to the solution."
  • "Since the addition of nodes, it is all automated now. What would normally take us around three to five hours in the past, has come down to 15 minutes to half an hour, creating a significant gain in time."
  • "Cisco support is much slower. Opening cases with Cisco tech is sometimes a bit tedious. The return time for less important calls can be slower. Even Priority 1 calls can sometimes be a bit long and they will have to call me back."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

They could improve the Cisco technical support.

For how long have I used the solution?

Trial/evaluations only.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't called technical support for FlexPod. 

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Rodrigo Moncao
Storage Engineer Manager at Servix informatics
Real User
FlexPod is innovative when it comes to its product's validate design and functionalities
Pros and Cons
  • "ONTAP is the core of FlexPod, so its most valuable features are: FlexClone, Snapshot, and SnapCenter."
  • "I would like them to scale more to rack unit servers instead of blade servers."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

Neither has anything to do with Flexpod at all.

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

FlexPod's tech support is very good.

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We used NetApp and our team for the deployment. 

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Storage Engineer at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Its scalability is innovative for both compute and storage
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution is resilient, because it has good scalability, and other products in the market don't have this. It has scalable storage and service."
  • "The initial setup is not complex. It is user-friendly since it is a single solution with all the components delivered in one package."
  • "We would like to see a new design that comes with more productivity or graphics. Currently, the vendors, like HPE and Dell EMC along with NetApp, all have very similar products. We want more diversification."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

We have seen an 80 percent improvement in application performance.

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How is customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

This flexible is very good for private cloud solutions.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Obi Vellore
Senior Project Consultant at DynTek
MSP
It's amazingly scalable. It can expand to large MetroClusters and keep expanding.
Pros and Cons
  • "FlexPod provides very small footprint. We can have it in our offices without bothering with extra cooling, as it is a small unit."
  • "It's amazingly scalable. It just works. It can expand to large MetroClusters and keep expanding."
  • "The initial setup is complex because it has to be done in a certain way."
  • "We want always more speed, capacity, fluidity, and growth that we can easily integrate."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The validated designs save us research time and our data access rate is much faster
Pros and Cons
  • "Our performance increase has been about 15 percent from what we previously used."
  • "There have been issues upgrading the firmware."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

It has boosted performance.

What needs improvement?

There have been issues upgrading the firmware.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

We have found the solution to be resilient. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

Go for it as a solution.

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Storage Engineer at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
We have had scalability issues as we have grown into a large company. Though, we have seen an improvement in our application performance.
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable is the one support. I have a 1-800 number. I call one number rather than figuring out whether it's a network, compute, or storage issue. It is beautiful and works out nicely."
  • "We have seen a 20 percent improvement in application performance."
  • "We have experienced issues with patching. When there are Cisco releases, there are some vulnerabilities, i.e., security vulnerabilities. We are as a financial company and need to be on top patching. As a company, we cannot have continuous downtime to do patching, which is a challenge that we have faced."

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

With FlexPod, there is a vertical limit for everything.

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

How is customer service and technical support?

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We used ACS, who was good and knowledgeable.

What was our ROI?

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

We do not use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Systems Administrator at a consultancy with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
The solution is innovative. It handles virtual networking.
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution is innovative. It handles virtual networking. Also, it can upgrade blades and continue working seamlessly, which is excellent."
  • "I am happy with the stability. I haven't had any major issues with it in four years. This includes upgrades."
  • "We would like FlexPod to have more power, though it is not lacking in power now."
  • "We would like them to have better features to integrate with the cloud."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

The option to allow me a different storage connection. 

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

The idea of validate designs is excellent.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Infrastructure Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Deployment and confirmation times have reduced significantly
Pros and Cons
  • "Validate designs are a good. They work in the background to combine all the infrastructure and storage. They create automation which can create volumes and attach VMs directly to massive CIFS."
  • "With the next solution, if there is a virtual Flex part where we can deploy it to private clouds or in public clouds rather tying up the hardware, it would reduce costs and complexity. Then, we could do a lot more automation."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

  • Deduplication
  • Compression

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

What about the implementation team?

NetApp helped us with the setup.

What was our ROI?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Associate VP at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Reseller
It has amazing power to scale, but due to our environment, we are not reaping the optimal ROI
Pros and Cons
  • "The data is available, compressed, and deduped."
  • "Our environment does not always require this solution, so we are not reaping the optimal ROI."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It has amazing power to scale.

How is customer service and technical support?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend NetApp.

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

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

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
Systems Engineer at a tech services company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
They have dedicated support. When you call, you're going to get virtualization, storage, and compute support.
Pros and Cons
  • "I have found the platform to be resilient, mainly because all the hardware is fault-tolerant. It has built-in HA, so if one of the components goes down, you're covered by the platform itself."
  • "I would like more orchestration and networking in-between the VMs, the virtualization layer for networking. I would like to see better tools for this."

What is our primary use case?

We use it mainly for consolidation in the data center.

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is solid. 

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated IBM VersaStack and Dell EMC with their VxBlock.  

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Systems Engineer at a healthcare company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
We have been able to save space although they could make it more user-friendly
Pros and Cons
  • "We have absolutely been able to save space."
  • "I would also like to feel more support. NetApp has been pretty good, for the most part, but Cisco has more work to do. I've had very good experience with NetApp. Instead of having to call three different areas and saying, "I'm a FlexPod customer." It would be nice if it could be just one that gets routed. I know it would require three large companies to work together, but that's what would make this product a ten. They could definitely use with making it more user-friendly."

What is our primary use case?

One place to go for support. 

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

My colleagues mentioned that it was very easy. 

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Manager of Network Services at a legal firm with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
We haven't had a shortcoming in performance nor data loss
Pros and Cons
  • "We found FlexPod to be innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking. We've taken advantage of their storage optimizations to obtain better use out of the space. We upgraded to All Flash FAS (AFF), which has provided a huge performance increase that we haven't barely scratched the surface of. We have plenty of overhead, so that's always nice when taking on tasks which might have otherwise taxed a smaller system."
  • "We would like them to improve the validate designs. It is hard to stay in a supported config with the software and firmware versions of the platform. It's always a concern to ensure things not only work well, but they work at all. If we run into incompatibility inside of the NetApp, Cisco, or VMware versions, it can cause real issues."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

What is most valuable?

In regards to DR and backup:

  • Performance
  • Stability
  • Capability.

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Operations Engineer at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We can scale it as needed; it's definitely a very flexible solution to scale out.
Pros and Cons
  • "It is innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking, because there are a lot of the storage efficiencies which allow us to keep a smaller footprint."
  • "We have also seen an improvement in our application performance. Our VM and database environments are able to go as fast as we need them to now."
  • "Sometimes, it can take awhile for support cases to get to the right people, especially if it's not a P1 case."
  • "Parts of the initial setup were complex, especially on the networking side."

What is our primary use case?

It's pretty much our infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

We can scale it out quickly, if needed.

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

What needs improvement?

We would like to have faster components.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How is customer service and technical support?

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We used a consultant, but did the deployment ourselves.

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dan  Scullen
Senior Systems Engineer at Booz Allen Hamilton
Real User
It has built-in redundancy and multipathing. If there is an issue with one part, it doesn't fail automatically.
Pros and Cons
  • "It is absolutely resilient. It has built-in redundancy and multipathing. If there is an issue with one part, it doesn't fail automatically."
  • "It's flexible. You can scale up or out. Our environment has never needed it, but the option has always been there."
  • "Make it easier to refresh hardware. We got to the point where we couldn't fix vulnerabilities without refreshing the hardware, then that became a little too expensive for us to do."

What is our primary use case?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How is customer service and technical support?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Aaron Kimball
Solutions Architect at GDT - General Datatech
Real User
Our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot
Pros and Cons
  • "Our time from customer interest to time of deployment has shrunk a lot."
  • "It's all converged into one consolidated platform, which works well together."
  • "I would like to see programmability into a SaaS-based offering, as I know Cisco's going in a lot of directions with their Intersight application."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great. 

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Capacity Manager at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
The validate designs give you an easy building block to configure and set the system up
Pros and Cons
  • "It's a common platform, which provides for ease of use between all of the blade servers. It uses all the same tech, moving service profiles seamlessly across from one blade to the next. There is also combined support."
  • "There are too many management products: System Insight Manager, Oakum, etc. There are a lot of them and you have to know which one to use at which time. Whereas, with competitors, they have a single pane of glass view which has everything in it."

What is our primary use case?

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

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

What about the implementation team?

We work with NEC, who was good.

What was our ROI?

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

We don't use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Senior Storage Engineer at a tech vendor with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It is scaling to our needs. Automation gets a little tricky for provisioning.
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution is innovative when it comes to compute storage and networking. Each environment has knowledge of another in a FlexPod environment. This would be difficult to operate separately."
  • "It is scaling to our needs. We don't have any issues."
  • "Because when you try to do automation, there are many bits and pieces tied together. Sometimes, automation gets a little tricky for provisioning."
  • "We would like better management of cases. For example, if you open a FlexPod case, it's not always straightforward. It would be nice to have centralized resource to open FlexPod cases and ease up management of our cases."

What is our primary use case?

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

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

How has it helped my organization?

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

What is most valuable?

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

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

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

What needs improvement?

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

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

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

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been strong.

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

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

We did not use a previous solution.

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

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

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

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

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

What other advice do I have?

I would say, "Definitely consult FlexPod."

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

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

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Alan-Crouch
Senior IT Manager at Vocera
Real User
It allowed us to scale out as our business grew without any issues
Pros and Cons
  • "It allowed us to scale out as our business grew without any issues."
  • "It takes all of the homework out of building the solution. The prearchitected design simplifies your deployment, gets you a quicker time to market, and a single point of support."
  • "I would like to see drag and drop connectivity to Azure and Amazon."
  • "The last two calls that I have made to NetApp support have been handled too casually. People are too lax, not quite as professional as I would have liked."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our internal cloud infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

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

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

What is most valuable?

  • Dynamic elasticity
  • Scalability
  • Reliability
  • Uptime

What needs improvement?

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

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is flawless.

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

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

How was the initial setup?

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

What about the implementation team?

We used InterVision, who is a VAR, for the deployment. They were excellent.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

We saved a few weeks of time for new service deployments.

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

It is expensive. My company is small. When you look at the price point, this is a big thing for us to invest in.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated Dell EMC, HPE, and NetApp Cisco. I chose this solution because I knew it and there was no learning curve.

What other advice do I have?

It's reliable and scalable. I can sleep well at night and not have to get woken up at three in the morning because something went bump. The solution works. You can't go wrong with the platform.

The validate designs and overall versatility are excellent. The people who did them, they did a good job. They were very thorough. The whole entire environment was well thought out, so it could scale up or out. Every component was selected properly. All the configurations for the environment are detailed, so you don't have to do any homework. You just plug it in and run it.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, and it is excellent. I haven't had any problems with it at all since I've deployed it, and I have continued to scale it out. I don't see it going anywhere.

Hybrid cloud is where it is at, and I don't believe everybody can go into public cloud or multi-cloud entirely. I am looking forward to connecting hybrid cloud to my FlexPod environment.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Systems Engineer at a university with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need
Pros and Cons
  • "It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need."
  • "The initial setup was complex. UCS is not the easiest thing to configure from the ground up. The networking pieces can get confusing, especially when you are talking about virtual segmentation. It is not as easy as other things now on the market, such as hyperconverged."
  • "I would like them to simplify the UCS configuration. I appreciate that they have about a billion options and a million switches that you can mess with, but this creates a lot of confusion sometimes. I feel like you almost need a Master's course to figure out what you're doing with UCS."

What is our primary use case?

We use FlexPod for everything: Running our virtual stack, all our research data, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

Moving from rack and stack servers (Dell EMC and HPE) to having an overall encompassing design with UCS, NetApp, and VMware, made us more resilient. We can lose nodes and drives and also stuff can go down, but there is no downtime. We can recover quickly. 

It makes disaster recovery (DR) easier as well, if you have a FlexPod set up in one place, then add a DR set.

What is most valuable?

It can scale, compute, and storage independently by what we need. As opposed to in the hyper-converged realm, you are sort of locked into a linear growth pattern.

What needs improvement?

I would like them to simplify the UCS configuration. I appreciate that they have about a billion options and a million switches that you can mess with, but this creates a lot of confusion sometimes. I feel like you almost need a Master's course to figure out what you're doing with UCS.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's extremely stable.

The solution is resilient. We have suffered failures before without any downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are constantly scaling. I just added half a petabyte of storage not too long ago to the storage site. Adding new nodes and making new UCS clusters allows us to scale any way that we want.

How are customer service and technical support?

  • With NetApp, technical support has always been great. 
  • With Cisco, it depends. 
  • VMware is horrible. I hate calling them for anything.

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

We were running on legacy rack and stack; just single servers doing single things with server sprawl and multiple racks of servers. It's not a great way to do things. That's what drove us to FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex. UCS is not the easiest thing to configure from the ground up. The networking pieces can get confusing, especially when you are talking about virtual segmentation. It is not as easy as other things now on the market, such as hyperconverged.

What was our ROI?

Coming from a rack and stack server model to FlexPod, it has saved us a lot of time (approximately hundreds to thousands of hours).

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at VxBlock from Dell EMC.

What other advice do I have?

If you need to scale, storage and commute independently, then you want to go FlexPod. If you don't have that sort of need and want something simple and easy to throw up and use, despite some of its shortcomings, hyper-converged is probably the way to go. It really depends on how big you are and what you need.

Versatility is great. However, in this day and age, it is probably more complex than it needs to be, especially on the Cisco side. I am not a huge Cisco lover. UCS is getting long in the tooth. It's great for what it is, but it is now overly complex compared to other solutions on the market.

FlexPod was at one point on the bleeding edge. Now, I think the bleeding edge is hyperconverged, and I know Cisco and NetApp are looking into that independently.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud, which is great.

I don't love the Cloud. It is a good space for second copy backups and maybe bursting into the cloud depending on what your application workload is like. However, I'm not a lover of the hybrid cloud model, or even going fully into the cloud, unless you are willing to undertake the paradigm of creating your applications and workload for it. Moving your legacy info into the cloud is expensive and a bad move.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Storage Administrator at HDR
Real User
It is innovative because it integrates with different platforms
Pros and Cons
  • "Our footprint is lower than it used to be."
  • "The overall versatility and validate designs are great. We previously used a different platform, but we gained a lot of utilization with FlexPod."
  • "We would like to have more monitoring and reporting, because today some of the reporting, and if you purchase it separately is expensive. We use OnCommand Unified Manager today, which is great, but we are looking for more of that."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for its resilience and redundancy. Storage-wise, we use it for its deduplication. The primary use is to keep storage for 24-hours and have no issues.

How has it helped my organization?

Our footprint is lower than it used to be.

What is most valuable?

  • Replication
  • Deduplication
  • Inline dedupe
  • Scalability
  • Compression, which saves us a lot of data.

What needs improvement?

We would like to have more monitoring and reporting, because today some of the reporting, and if you purchase it separately is expensive. We use OnCommand Unified Manager today, which is great, but we are looking for more of that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable and resilient with no downtime. If I needed any storage or shelf tomorrow, I would just add it to our cluster and there would be no downtime. This is one of the best things about FlexPod.

For example, if we have to add more storage, there is no downtime. If we upgrade any firmware, we do it without any downtime. Also, with a test environment, we can be up and running in a couple of minutes.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can scale in a matter of hours.

How are customer service and technical support?

I am happy with FlexPod's tech support. If we need support on it, we go to one place and get everything that we need in one shot.

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

The overall versatility and validate designs are great. We previously used a different platform, but we gained a lot of utilization with FlexPod.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. You just follow the steps. As long as you're not missing steps, especially as it is integrated with OnCommand System Manager or command line, the process is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We use a NetApp reseller, who has great technical experts if we have any issues.

What was our ROI?

We have saved time and money for new service deployments. Without FlexPod, it probably takes about ten hours. With FlexPod, within two hours, we are up and running. So, we have seen about an 80 percent time decrease.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We are mostly a NetApp environment, so we did not consider another vendor. If there was an issue with NetApp, we would have left a long time ago.

What other advice do I have?

Try it. Nowadays, they will give you access online to check it out and see how it works.

It is innovative because it integrates with different platforms.

We have seen an 80 percent increase in application performance.

FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud gives us what we need. We don't have any issues with it.

We are planning to eventually go to the cloud. So, the multi-cloud capability being there in the future is exciting.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Subject Matter Expert at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Our data center rack space collapsed and our manpower decreased
Pros and Cons
  • "It scales easily. We went through an upgrade of adding additional chassis, and it wasn't a big deal."
  • "Our data center rack space collapsed and our manpower decreased."
  • "The ability to manage the templates across sites. We would like to easily take out the configuration of one FlexPod and copy it over, just making minor changes. There is a way to do it, but it's clumsy."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for generalized workloads in a hypervisor situation, either VMM or Hyper-V. It is used for any particular workloads that the government has for this purpose. It is sometimes used for dedicated hardware as well, so it provides the flexibility as we need it. We can also grow because we can easily expand it from its initial chassis.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives you a lot to work with. The problem with this is then you don't know what you want to do anymore. By making it very versatile, it also gives you too many choices.

Depending on how we deploy, we are seeing application performance improvements as we have plenty of horsepower in the solution. However, at the moment, we have development issues, not performance issues.

What is most valuable?

The ability to have the configurations for it: The blades, the service profiles, and making a standard for it. This makes it easy for the other members on our team when setting things up, because there is already a template for them to use.

I like that everything is integrated, and we can change the port to whatever we need, e.g., Fibre Channel. It is very nice to work with, as it gives the ability to have more choices: Do we want to have more Fibre Channels, iSCSI, or some type of MetroClusters? We can do all this with if we have bandwidth.

What needs improvement?

The ability to manage the templates across sites. We would like to easily take out the configuration of one FlexPod and copy it over, just making minor changes. There is a way to do it, but it's clumsy.

There is a bit of a learning curve for a new person in understanding FlexPod and going through each of section of making a template for SAN, hardware, networking, etc. The flow isn't very good. The software should be more geared to a top-flow design versus a bottom-up.

I would also like them to improve some integration on the HCI part.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. I find it's almost mainframe grade.

We had issues where we had some of the aisle modules failed. Even though its half the system, it was still up and no one actually knew why it was down. It was down for a few days before we could get it fixed. However, it didn't affect anybody else and that includes our major environment. This was at one of our bigger sites and nothing happened.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales easily. We went through an upgrade of adding additional chassis, and it wasn't a big deal.

How is customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good. I don't think we have had a call that lasted longer than a couple days, and it was only for one issue where something didn't work properly. It wasn't exactly a hardware problem, but it wasn't a software problem. It was just one of those strange anomalies.

How was the initial setup?

The upgrade was straightforward. There wasn't anything special involved. What we found out is that since no one is using templates properly that we could have done things even faster if we had used the templates. Since then, we use them all across all the sites.

What was our ROI?

We have seen our data center rack space collapse about 90 percent. We have a data center which only has two racks now out of the 20 that were there previously.

We have also reduced our manpower with the solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We may consider another solution for the HCI. We have not decided yet.

What other advice do I have?

Know what your use case will be for and figure out whether you are going on-premise or want a hybrid solution. This will change what you need. If you are going to do some hybrid stuff, you may need to decide to create your own software to make the hybrid connection or you can use HCI. This may change the things you want to buy.

We are trying to decide if we want to go to a private, hybrid or multi-cloud environment. We don't have any services to deploy VMs yet on the cloud.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Manager of IT Services at a comms service provider
Real User
It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems.
Pros and Cons
  • "We have had great support, and this is when we have called for any problems, which have been very minimal to start with."
  • "It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems."
  • "There were several different management consoles that we had to deal with: UCS, VMware, and separate ESXi installations. Maybe one interface council where we could manage everything from might be a little easier."

What is our primary use case?

Primary use case is for a telecommunications company. We have used it for housing virtual servers for an internal corporate network, as well as for a service provider network.

How has it helped my organization?

We installed two FlexPods in two different geographical diverse locations to give full redundancy. This housed all of our virtual servers. It made everything easier to have in one place.

What is most valuable?

Support was the main feature for us. Having everything in one as far as combining NetApp and Cisco devices, yet also having one place where we could call and actually get support from very knowledgeable people.

What needs improvement?

There were several different management consoles that we had to deal with: UCS, VMware, and separate ESXi installations. Maybe one interface console where we could manage everything from might be a little easier.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. We have had absolutely zero problems.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. We actually started with only two blades in one system and four blades in the other, and we had capabilities for eight blades. Thus, it has allowed us to be very scalable throughout the entire life of the product as we owned it.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had great support, and this is when we have called for any problems, which have been very minimal to start with. 

The only time that we had to use support is when we installed the system. Part of the system from the UCS was damaged in shipping, which was no fault of the FlexPod, but we went through support to have it replaced. It was no problem at all.

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

We came from physical servers installed on old operating systems. We had around 20 to 30 physical servers. Not only did FlexPod reduce the power requirements in the data centers that we were running, but it also decreased repair, decreased support, and allowed us to have everything in one system as opposed to all these individual different branded devices that we previous had functioning.

We originally switched to FlexPod because everything was going to virtualization. We started doing some investigation and research into why, and found out that it was an overall better solution. In the long run, it ended up saving you money, putting everything together into one solution, and allowing you to utilize all your resources for multiple machines. Therefore, if you needed a new server, you did not have to go out and buy a physical server, you just spun up a new virtual machine, and you're done.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We had a company come in and help us set everything up. After they turned it over to us, it was very straightforward and easy to use, as much as you can expect from a system that large.

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

We purchased FlexPod though Datalink. Be sure you use a known company to be sure you get the correct licensing and products for your specific needs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

For FlexPod, the whole package itself, including the support and the different vendors who worked together is great (even though it costs more than the other solution we were looking at). There are other things in there that you have to consider, such as the support, devices, how long it has been out on the market, and how well it lasts. 

We went to other telecommunication providers and asked what they have and how well they were satisfied with it. We found some providers who were using FlexPod and some who were using other products. The ones who were using the FlexPod seemed to be a lot more satisfied with their product overall.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, as an entire package, it has everything that we need and support is very helpful when needed. It is still installed and working today problem free.

Look at your needs and what you are looking to do. See what fits your needs better. There is not one solution or company that will be a fit all.

The most important criteria when selecting a vendor: We look at everything as a whole package. As far as support, how long its been out on the market and what they offer. Support is probably the biggest, but for whatever product that we buy from a vendor, it needs to be solidified for a while and tested out on the market, aka tried-and-true.

Disclosure: 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.
Network Engineer III at a comms service provider with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand.
Pros and Cons
  • "It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand."
  • "We would like to have a single pane of glass available for it. It is something that the management in the business would like to have."

What is our primary use case?

It's used for managing our virtual workload exclusively. It manages our virtual servers and our internal business systems are run on it.

We use FlexPod for Managed Private Cloud. It functions.

How has it helped my organization?

It simplifies that you don't have to manage all the additional hardware. It simplifies support, as it is all in one area. You don't have to worry about individual pieces of hardware going end-of-life at different times.

What is most valuable?

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Scalability
  • Stability 

The ease in the event that there is hardware failure and having it be stateless. We can swap components out without incurring any significant downtime. 

What needs improvement?

We would like to have a single pane of glass available for it. It is something that the management in the business would like to have.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. I can't think of any significant downtime that we've incurred with it.

Unfortunately, we are limited on upgrades. They don't really let us do them. However, upgrades have been stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is simple. It allows you to continue to grow out, compute, or store as necessary.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have never used FlexPod's technical support.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the refresh, and it was relatively straightforward. We had an existing UCS infrastructure that we were replacing, which was being moved over to a secondary sight where it was a new UCS stand up.

What about the implementation team?

At the time of installation, we used Varo. However, they no longer exist. 

What other advice do I have?

Go for it.

It simplifies everything. It gives you a single place to go if you need support or if you need to expand.

We don't have a true FlexPod.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Virtualization Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere
Pros and Cons
  • "One of the easiest solutions to implement, maintain, and scale."
  • "Simplicity and integration with NetApp are its most valuable features."
  • "We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere."
  • "They should have an easier user interface to get it up and running."

What is our primary use case?

It in our primary data centers and almost on all of our sites. Therefore, we use both FlexPod and FlexPod Express.

How has it helped my organization?

We enjoy the standardization and having things consistent across the whole data center sphere. 

What is most valuable?

Simplicity and integration with NetApp are its most valuable features.

What needs improvement?

They already have some products or interfaces that leverage APIs, like Cisco UCS Director, and this is a good starting point. However, I would like to have something for smaller organizations where they could just plugin configurations, and everything is done for them.

They should have an easier user interface to get it up and running.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I've never had any issues, so tech support is good.

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

We brought our IT in-house and needed a solution to host it on, and FlexPod was the solution that we decided on. That was for a smaller subset of the company. 

The larger parent company used what the contracting IT provided at the time. When we released that contract, we moved to have all in-house employees and an in-house IT. We also decided to use FlexPod because we had seen the value with the smaller companies. It has scaled out well.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward because I was working with an experienced partner. I have more than six years of experience, so when I work with a partner that has experience, it makes it easier.

What about the implementation team?

In the United States, we use IRONBRICK. Internationally, EMEA and Asia PAC, we use Computacenter. Our experience with both of them so far has been good.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated HPE, Cisco, and NetApp for storage. We chose NetApp because of its storage efficiencies and integration.

What other advice do I have?

The FlexPod solution is one of the easiest solutions to implement, maintain, and scale.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jason Batt
Senior Data Storage Administrator at Denver Health
Real User
Validated Design, stability, and collaborative support have made this a success story for us

What is our primary use case?

We have been using FlexPod for five years. We use it for our Epic environment.

How has it helped my organization?

We get a unified, collaborative support model. It conforms with the CVD and it helps us with maintaining supportability. All of our vendors give us the support that we need in a timely and effective manner.

It has also been very versatile. We have others that do not exactly conform with it and yet we still benefit from the collaborative support model. And we're not required to go to a certain thing if it doesn't work well or isn't the best case for our situation. That's been wonderful.

We're using the Epic environment on-demand workflow, and that has saved us quite literally thousands of man-hours by helping us refresh, back up, and create new instances. We wouldn't have been able to do so if it wasn't for all of that time-saving. Being able to have SUP, REL, and REL VAL DR instances, we would need to double our staff, at least, to be able to do that.

What is most valuable?

  • The design has already been validated.
  • The support element, the lack of finger-pointing, where all of the different vendors are working together collaboratively, sharing data, opening tickets with one another.
  • We already use UCS and it goes well with the vendors that we have picked.

What needs improvement?

At the beginning, there was a little bit of confusion among the support folks on how to open up tickets with the others. There needs to be a little more helping of the partners to make sure that they are able to handle opening tickets with the other vendors.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For our Epic environment, aside from an environmental data center problem, a heating issue, we have not had any issues whatsoever with the infrastructure. From a resilience perspective, we've set it and we've been able to forget it for the most part.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We planned a five-year model for our Epic environment, so that we haven't really needed to scale. For other areas of our environment, it has scaled fairly well. The data mobility helps a lot with that, if we have to do a refresh. It's just simply vol moves, etc.

One thing to note would be that we're now looking to go into a MetroCluster IP with our FlexPod. Going from Fabric to IP, we're not able to do that with vol move. Still, we can do SnapMirror relationships and get all that data moved over.

The one other thing would be that in the transition from 7-Mode to CDOT there was no unplanned downtime, and it went very well with all the tools that NetApp has provided us.

How are customer service and technical support?

Just fantastic tech support. The chat functionality gets us in touch with top-level engineers when we need it. As a hospital, that level of support is priceless.

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

We had been using Dell EMC storage before, VPLEX, etc. We had a good bit of experience with that. 

How was the initial setup?

Because our VAR helped us with a lot of it, from our perspective it was very simple.

What about the implementation team?

Initially, for our Epic environment, we used OST. Our VAR, PEAK Resources, also specializes in converged infrastructure. It went fairly well. It was a little bit rocky at the start, but that's why we picked our VAR. Their experience and the level of investment that they make in NetApp are fantastic. They helped us a lot.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Dell EMC VCE very seriously, as it's a converged product. NetApp was a lot more flexible, it didn't require a forklift approach. We had a really great experience with NetApp specifically. We were already using Cisco, for both network as well as compute, and it just seemed like just a great play, to have that flexibility and to have the support model to help us. And it has proven to be great.

What other advice do I have?

If a colleague was looking at this or similar solutions, I would help them to understand what we've done with it for Epic and the success that we've had. I would share with them the examples of converged support as well as the stability that we've had. They are what has really made this a success story.

Regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, I love it. The idea of the state of Fabric. We haven't been able to leverage the public cloud portion of it yet, but the whole vision of the data movement is where we want to stay, so that we're ready for the cloud where we can do that. As for private, we're looking to bring up StorageGRID to be able to offload cold blocks on our AFF. That kind of a feature set is wonderful. We don't use FlexPod for managed private cloud.

In terms of FlexPod being innovative when it comes to compute, storage and networking, it stays current. We're not five versions back because we're having to be conformed with other solutions. It seems like NetApp is doing a great job of making sure all their vendors are keeping things up to date. There have been some other than Day One-types of events that it's impossible to really get to. We're not waiting long for things to come up.

As for improvement in application performance, we started with an All Flash Epic so we've had really wonderful sub-millisecond latencies from the get-go. We haven't experienced degraded performance.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Lead of the Server and Storage Team at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Real User
With LUN clones we have a template for our hypervisor image - we can deploy a new hypervisor in under an hour
Pros and Cons
  • "We save days of work when doing new service deployments. With LUN clones we have a template provisioned for the image of our hypervisor on our NetApps, and we can deploy a brand new hypervisor in under an hour. Everything is scripted. We just clone a template LUN and boot from SAN, so there are no single points of failure."
  • "The most valuable features are the CVDs and the support behind it from both companies."
  • "One of the things that I've wanted would be availability of a health status, similar to Active IQ from my converged platform, on an app. I have dashboards so I can see the health of the system when I'm in the office, but when I'm not in the office I can't."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for our entire virtualization stack, and one of the big driving factors for us was the support between Cisco and NetApp.

How has it helped my organization?

We don't have to worry about support or the resiliency of the solution. Our previous converged platform was Dell EMC. There were single points of failure that were designed into the system, not the implementation, that we couldn't overcome. The only solution was buying more hardware and scaling it out, which was not the best solution or necessarily affordable.

Also, we save days of work when doing new service deployments. With LUN clones we have a template provisioned for the image of our hypervisor on our NetApp, and we can deploy a brand new hypervisor in under an hour. Everything is scripted. We just clone a template LUN and boot from SAN, so there are no single points of failure. There is no spinning disk left in the data center.

Finally, we have easily seen a 100 percent improvement in application performance over our previous platform. It's been night and day, to the point where one of our two identically-configured data centers was refreshed to the UCS before the other, and we started to see a shift in where teams were deploying things. The workload actually became unbalanced because everyone was favoring the newer hardware - they were noticing that it was that much faster. But that also gave us the buy-in from the executive level to proceed with refreshing the other site.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the CVDs, and the support behind it from both companies.

What needs improvement?

One of the things that I've wanted would be availability of a health status, similar to Active IQ from my converged platform, on an app. I have dashboards so I can see the health of the system when I'm in the office, but when I'm not in the office I can't.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of resiliency, we've tested the failover by pulling direct cables between Fabric Interconnects, IOM modules, our Switch Fabric, we've rebooted things in the middle of the day and we've never had an outage.

It's very stable. I've only had to engage FlexPod support one time for a driver issue. It was resolved on the same day.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had to scale the product. We set up one of our data centers with a single chassis and we've since grown into three chassis, all with no downtime.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you open a ticket, you get a response from NetApp and Cisco on the same page, on the same team. Their support has been great. You actually get a follow-up a day later: "Is everything still good?" That's great.

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

In our past converged platforms, we didn't have vendor support that would work together. That's actually what led us to abandon our Dell EMC solution in favor of FlexPod.

Also, there were engineering oversights with our previous Dell EMC solution. There is a single point of failure in the midplane which we had to replace, to the point where we actually replaced an entire chassis. It required a full outage to replace the chassis. On the other hand, there are multiple midplanes in every UCS 5208 chassis and a scale out into more chassis. And those chassis are a lot cheaper and more affordable than the Dell EMC solution. So there is no single point of failure in the system anymore.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was more complex for us because we were using Hyper-V. We had to blend a few CVDs, but with the expertise that they had, there weren't any issues.

What about the implementation team?

We had Professional Services from one of our partners. Our experience with them was great. They had Cisco Certified Engineers to assist with everything.

What was our ROI?

I don't have any data about ROI, but I know we were able to collapse some of our compute workload for virtualization and reduce our licensing count for SQL Server. That saves a lot of money every year, just with denser blades that were available in the UCS platform.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at the Dell EMC PowerEdge FX converged platform, VRTX. At the time, we were a major Dell EMC consumer. Since our switch to the UCS, we haven't bought a single Dell EMC product.

We went with FlexPod because the engineering was better, but support was the major factor: Cisco support and NetApp support. And they support the product even after end-of-sale. Dell EMC has a max term they will support a product: for compute it's seven years. So we had a situation where we could buy the exact same, older technology product just to get more support. We would have been buying old tech just to continue being supported.

What other advice do I have?

Take your time. It's no small undertaking to implement a converged platform or to shift to a different one. Typically, when you make the decision on a converged platform, you're making that decision for the next five to seven years. So take your time.

Regarding the Validated Designs, I've set up VersaStacks as well as FlexPods and it's just like a recipe book or a cookbook. You follow the steps and it's pretty difficult to mess it up. The Validated Designs are great. They're a great reference guide to go back to if you're troubleshooting an issue later on as well. 

In terms of private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, it's great to see because we have a large presence in Azure already. But it's native Azure. There was no tooling to tie it to our data center. Until now. So shifting things to the cloud volumes from Azure Blob Storage inserts a common framework, we can replicate data between the data centers and the cloud. It's great. 

As for managing private cloud, we use FlexPod for own internal hosting of our customers' data, so we ourselves operator our own private cloud.

It's also innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking. You can use any number of Nexus lines, MDS. I've done setups with MDS 5000s. I've worked on systems from version 1 all the way to current, so I've seen quite a few iterations of it.

I would rate FlexPod at eight out of ten overall. It's definitely a very complex system. We're definitely not making changes in it daily. There is a little bit of a learning curve for a junior admin.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
IT Engineer at CenturyLink, Inc.
Real User
Provides an engineered solution we can use for smaller, medium, or large projects

What is our primary use case?

FlexPod can be used for all types of workloads. At my company we are using FlexPod for the SAP HANA product.

How has it helped my organization?

The application that is running on the FlexPod that we are working with runs better on FlexPod because of the technology itself. It saves on time to do backups and restores, protection, and of course deployment and roll out.

In addition, the support that you can get from all three vendors - VMware, Cisco, and NetApp - with one call, is a value-add.

We have also seen a large percentage improvement in the performance of some applications. We can back up and restore within minutes, whereas before, when the program was running on a different platform, that would take eight to 12 hours.

What is most valuable?

FlexPod comes as an engineered solution. We can use it for smaller, medium, or large solutions and we can scale it as we need. That's the reason that it's very useful.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I find it very resilient. I would trust FlexPod to the point that I would put a lot of different things on it.

It is stable as long as you do your due diligence. With all the updates and upgrades, there is always a chance of something going wrong. However, the built-in resiliency annuls those risks to some degree.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling it was not difficult. The scale of the FlexPod for a company I worked with before was about eight nodes.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you get the right numbers and give the right information you can get to the right support. Otherwise, it's a nightmare. Once you get to the right people, it's perfect.

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

What made us switch was the fact that we had limitation challenges with the old product. Everything was a little bit different every time. FlexPod helped us solve the problem so that we are deploying something that is the same all the time.

How was the initial setup?

I did not really notice anything complex or anything you couldn't figure out for yourself or by picking up a phone or looking up the documents. They were able to produce the system within 24 hours from the time the boxes arrived at the data center.

What about the implementation team?

We used an integrator. That experience was not as good as it could have been. There is room for improvement the second or the third time around.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It was either FlexPod or build our own "FlexPod" ourselves. With FlexPod, and the automation, everything is the same all the time.

What other advice do I have?

Using FlexPod as one product, understand that you are putting yourself in the hands of three of the major technology leaders. You are not only getting a product, an appliance, but you are gaining experience. All these things work together to help you decide for today and tomorrow.

If you want something really fast to deploy, you are going to use a Validated Design; everybody's compliance and all that is taken care of. But you can make a FlexPod-like build and you can later go certify it as a FlexPod design.

Regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, every solution is here to answer a problem. So the question is: What are the challenges? Based on those you can then use the proper solution. NetApp people usually tell us that the hybrid vision is the best, and I tend to agree with them.

In terms of the solution being innovative for compute, it's very useful for the storage engineer. If there is a problem with the host, he can replace the base hardware and put the intelligence right back in the same box. In that way, every type has been kitted out, without anyone having to rebuild anything from scratch.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
Enterprise Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1-10 employees
Real User
Cisco Validated Designs and streamlining of support were decisive for us
Pros and Cons
  • "The Cisco Validated Designs are the most valuable feature along with the Industry-leading technology, put together; and the fact that it just works."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it more to deploy a supportive solution so that a customer can go to one business support number and then have FlexPod for the whole infrastructure.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The streamlining of support has been an improvement for us.

    Also, we have found the solution to be innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking because each piece is still modular at the end of the day, and if we have to upgrade one area we don't have to upgrade the whole thing.

    Finally, we have seen about a 20 percent improvement in application performance. The increase is coming over the legacy hardware we were running before.

    What is most valuable?

    • The Cisco Validated Designs
    • Industry-leading technology, put together 
    • It just works

    Also, it's very versatile. We haven't run into any issues with it where we couldn't do something because of it. We have been very happy with it.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's resilient. We haven't had any issues with it whatsoever and we've had it for four years. It's very stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have had to scale it and it's very easy. You just swap the component that you need to scale. For the storage you just add on a shelf; for the compute you just add another node and you're good to go.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support is very good. We had to open a ticket one time but it was very quick to get it resolved.

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

    We were using a mismatch of different things like Cisco switches, NAT storage, and HPE servers. The reason we switched was the validated, one-vendor support for everything. It's one of those things you set up and you just forget it. It just works.

    How was the initial setup?

    It was very straightforward, as long as you follow the documentation. It is a well-architected solution so I didn't really run into issues. I set it up and it works.

    What about the implementation team?

    I just did it myself.

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

    The cost is a little high.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We considered HPE.

    What other advice do I have?

    You won't regret it in the end, if you invest in FlexPod.

    My thoughts on the solution regarding private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environment are that I definitely think hybrid is the future, having a flexible infrastructure. That's where I like the FlexPod, it's more like hyperconverged. It has more layers of flexibility for moving workloads up to and back from the cloud. We currently don't use FlexPod for managed private cloud.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    Systems Administrator at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User
    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up

    What is our primary use case?

    We have everything on our FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up. Therefore, if you can manage the set up in one place, then you can manage the whole infrastructure.

    What is most valuable?

    The ease of use The ease of administration It is easy to manage.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see synchronous replication and easier automation in the next release.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    More than five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I love the stability. It is stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I love the scalability. It is scalable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support…

    What is our primary use case?

    We have everything on our FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Because we use it everywhere, it is standard to set up. Therefore, if you can manage the set up in one place, then you can manage the whole infrastructure.

    What is most valuable?

    • The ease of use
    • The ease of administration
    • It is easy to manage.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see synchronous replication and easier automation in the next release.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    More than five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    I love the stability. It is stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I love the scalability. It is scalable.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    The technical support is slightly above average. I would like them to have quicker escalation.

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

    We were previously using Dell EMC and HPE servers. I prefer NetApp over Dell EMC.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was straightforward.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used World Wide Technology and DataBank for the deployment.

    What was our ROI?

    We have seen ROI.

    What other advice do I have?

    It is a good proof of concept.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Brian Foulks
    System Engineer at Missile Defense Agency
    Real User
    I live by the Validated Designs, and the resiliency means we have zero downtime
    Pros and Cons
    • "I live by the Validated Designs. I do exactly what those designs say and I haven't had a problem as a result. For example, they used to do the FCoE. They figured out there was a problem and they went over to the NFS. I moved over and I agreed with them. It worked better."
    • "I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it to implement our core data center and server environment.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Due to the way the equipment is all together, with its resiliency, typically we have zero downtime. We run simulations for the military, and the lack of downtime is highly important, given the amount of money we run into it. We don't have to worry about downtime.

    Having the capability to seamlessly move from different equipment, that's the way to go.

    We have found FlexPod to be innovative, when it comes to compute, storage and networking because of the fact that NetApp and Cisco work so closely in streamlining, specifically with Validated Designs. The networking is there. I don't have a problem with transferring from physical to the virtual environment. It allows us to have that seamless storage. We lose hard drives and we don't even know about it because it's so good. The tools provided with the FlexPod allow us to be more efficient with the smaller team that we run.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature of FlexPod is all the vendors' synyergy together. I just have to log in and start working with it. Everything is there, and with the failover I don't even have to worry about the systems too much.

    In addition, I live by the Validated Designs. I do exactly what those designs say and I haven't had a problem as a result. For example, they used to do the FCoE. They figured out there was a problem and they went over to the NFS. I moved over and I agreed with them. It worked better.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like them to integrate the NVIDIA GRID into the system, so we could easily deploy certain solutions with the FlexPod.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Three to five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is very resilient, to the point that sometimes we didn't even know it went down, because we don't actually look at our log at times. We find components that were down but it just moves and takes care of itself.

    The solution is very stable. Typically, if something goes down, it's a fan or a hard drive. We haven't had any major issues and we've been running FlexPods now for about four years.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The only thing we have scaled are the blades within the UCS. The fact that they allow us to use the same chassis and just swap out the blades, that part was interesting for us. Same idea with the NetApp equipment in the FlexPod. We don't have to worry about the shelves. We can replace just the drives and go higher up on that side. It allows us to scale without doing a full-bore rack replacement.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Because of my environment, we have dedicated teams. We get instantaneous support. So it's not fair for me to answer this question.

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

    We had a mixture of workstations, some rack servers, some floor servers. We knew that wasn't working. We were being pushed to try to virtualize what we could. That's what drove us to it. The fact that we were able to clean up all that, got rid of racks of equipment, it was just the way to go.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was straightforward. We sat down with Cisco and NetApp, as well as World Wide, and said, "This is what we want to see." And they built the FlexPod based upon our requirements. After that initial work, everything came in quite easily.

    What about the implementation team?

    We used a reseller, World Wide Technology. I love them.

    What was our ROI?

    I haven't had to put in a request for new rack space. Our footprint is down to two racks that run our entire core. We run multimillion-dollar exercises through it. But it's hard to quantify ROI because we had nothing previously. We weren't keeping track. And then we went to this system. I just know that in the last four years, other than buying some minor upgrades, we haven't spent any money.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    There were no other options. I've been with Cisco since 1995.

    What other advice do I have?

    Go with the FlexPod. It's a very easy solution. There are dedicated minds behind it. You will notice an improvement.

    We save time and money with the solution but I don't know how to quantify them because we only have a few physical servers. Everything has been built into it so we haven't had to buy things. So we're not aware of what it would have cost us, by not going with it, because we went all-in on the FlexPod design. Similarly, regarding application performance improvements, I can't say because we went straight into the system.

    Regarding thoughts on the solution vis-a-vis private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, unfortunately, we can't move into a cloud other than private. We're starting to investigate how to do it. I don't know how much of a player it's going to be for us, due to our environment. If we deploy it out, it will be used for private cloud, but we don't do so currently.

    Realistically, I would rate it a nine out of ten. There's always room for improvement. 

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Tariq Ejaz
    Systems Manager at Marcum Technology
    Real User
    Streamlines deployment - I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes
    Pros and Cons
    • "The most valuable feature is ease of deployment. Once I deploy the chassis and I have the back-end storage, configuring more UCS servers is very quick. I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes."
    • "I would like to see them reduce the complexity, that would be my number one request because. Right now, doing simple things is pretty complex. You have so many options. It might be better if it were more wizard-driven, as opposed to going through five hundred dials. It's not very easy or intuitive."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case is virtualization. Most of our virtualized environment runs on FlexPod.

    How has it helped my organization?

    Once you set up the underlying infrastructure, it's very quick to add more capacity or add more compute or networking.

    We have also definitely saved time for new service deployments, on the order of many weeks - two months, three months.

    What is most valuable?

    Ease of deployment. Once I deploy the chassis and I have the back-end storage, configuring more UCS servers is very quick. I can deploy a new UCS server within minutes.

    What needs improvement?

    I would like to see them reduce the complexity, that would be my number one request. Right now, doing simple things is pretty complex. You have so many options. It might be better if it was more wizard-driven, as opposed to going through five hundred dials. It's not very easy or intuitive.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    Three to five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It's stable. We haven't had any issues. We have it deployed for multiple customers and they have all been very stable.

    We have found the solution to be resilient. We test it. Before we turned over the product to the customer we did a lot of testing. No single point of failure. VMware, UCS, NetApp, we pulled cables, we did failovers, everything was seamless. Very good.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have a customer that has five chassis and it scales very well. It is very easy to scale up and wide.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I haven't had any issues, I've called Cisco, NetApp, VMware. It's been pretty good.

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

    We switched to FlexPod because of cost. The cost of our previous solution was too high. I couldn't scale out as easily as I wanted to.

    How was the initial setup?

    Setup is complex. They don't follow the norms. You expect certain things to be a certain way but once you start deploying you go, "Ah-ha." I found three or four "ah-ha" moments or "gotchas." It wasn't very straightforward. I had to do some digging to find out the right way to deploy it.

    What was our ROI?

    I'm not the one who would capture ROI figures, but I'm sure we have seen ROI.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    Nutanix, SimpliVity, and Vblock. We went with FlexPod because I think NetApp is a better product for the back-end storage. The other two are the same.

    What other advice do I have?

    I would suggest doing a mini FlexPod PoC. That is probably the best way to kick the tires and find out what the product is all about.

    I have seen an improvement in application performance but I can't attribute that to the UCS or the FlexPod environment because I'm running on an SSD. It doesn't matter if it's FlexPod or not, it'll still run fast.

    I haven't really dealt with validated designs. I go to Cisco and grab the product line from there and just deploy according to that. I don't really deviate too much from the already-architected solutions.

    In terms of private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments, right now we're only doing private. Private is pretty much doing business as usual, nothing different about it. I haven't really looked into how we can take it to the cloud yet. We don't use FlexPod to manage private cloud.

    As for the solution being innovative when it comes to compute, storage, and networking, when UCS came on first, that technology was innovative. I haven't seen much innovation from them recently.

    I rate FlexPod at eight out of ten. They still have some room for improvement. As I said, the complexity is still pretty high. If they can get a handle on the complexity part I would give it a nine or ten.

    Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
    John Barrow
    Chief Technologist at Datalink, a division of Insight
    Video Review
    MSP
    The ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform, then scale horizontally and vertically
    Pros and Cons
    • "The ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform, then scale horizontally and vertically."

      What is most valuable?

      We had a lot of disparate technologies which were spread around to different sites. It was the ability to converge a lot of different data and platforms into a single common platform that we could then scale horizontally and vertically.

      What needs improvement?

      I do not have a lot to comment on here.

      The next evolution of what we are doing is going to be disaster recovery and business continuity between the US and Canada. In six months, I could give you a different answer.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      It is stable. With the partnership that we have with NetApp, and also to a certain extent with VMware, whenever we have a problem, they have been super responsive. From the SnapMirror technology to the NSX platform that sits on top of FlexPod, they have been almost as good, if not better, than the integrator that we originally worked with.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      Scale for us was really important. We were taking multiple data centers across the US and Canada and consolidating them into two regional data centers. We did not want all of the out-of-pocket expenses upfront. We knew with the FlexPod that we could scale out as we consumed more of those smaller data centers.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The time to be able to answer our call to the time to get to a technician who understands what we are telling them, and even though they may not be able to help us resolve the problem, they are knowledgeable enough to tell us what to do to prepare to talk with a Tier 2 or 3 type person. Then, from there, there is the ownership to the resolution, then the followup by our account executive.

      How was the initial setup?

      We were early adopters, and there was some complexity involved. That is why a good integrator partner is important. We are a little bit ahead of the curve, and the market has matured since then. 

      After the first FlexPod, the second and third got easier and easier for us to deploy. We are now self-sustaining in the configuration portion of managing it, and also in the ongoing operations.

      What was our ROI?

      We are in the process of finalizing our ROI. 

      We looked at VxRail, FlexPod, and going to different managed service providers, including going to AWS directly. The FlexPod gave us a quicker time to get up and running. The actual cost and negotiation was on par, if not better, than the other things that we were looking at. The labor to operate it is about 30 percent less than we anticipated.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would have to rate it a nine, because 10 would be nirvana, where I would just press Next> Next> Next, then it is done. I know life is not that easy, but maybe someday it will be. As far as the technology that I am looking for, it is still at least two or three points above the next competitor.

      Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: My relationship with NetApp goes back about six or seven years, maybe longer. My account executive was on point to make sure that what we were buying would not just sit on the shelf, and what we were buying was actually being used relevant to best practices. He came in on a quarterly basis with a scorecard and report card that would say, "Are we on point? Are we doing the right things that we should be doing? Are we paying attention to the right things?" That brought up a different sense and perception of what I think an account executive should be. The technical engineer who is supporting them as well facilitated a very successful relationship between NetApp and us. It became a very strategic relationship, almost like a partnership. I value that, and I never relied much on technical support because they were always on point before I needed to make a call outside to them.

      Disclosure: 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.
      Service Delivery Architect at Premiercomm
      Video Review
      Consultant
      It is a complete, holistic solution which is easily scalable
      Pros and Cons
      • "It is the overall collaboration between NetApp and Cisco to come up with a product that is best in class and best in breed. You are bringing together the best things about UCS and NetApp, as well as you are tying it together with the Nexus fabric."
      • "The continued simplification will be a continued battle and evolution for both Cisco and NetApp, especially on the FlexPod product."

      What is most valuable?

      It is the overall collaboration between NetApp and Cisco to come up with a product that is best in class and best in breed. You are bringing together the best things about UCS and NetApp, as well as you are tying it together with the Nexus fabric. It makes a complete, holistic solution which is easily scalable. It can scale up to the largest size that you could possibly need, as well as scale down to smaller sizes for small business customers.

      What needs improvement?

      The evolution and the simplicity of IT seem to be this culture shift that we have had in IT over the last few years: the simplification. Many people are out there carrying multiple things on their shoulders. They are basically an engineer wearing a bunch of hats. The continued simplification will be a continued battle and evolution for both Cisco and NetApp, especially on the FlexPod product.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      I worked for many years on the customer side. We ran NetApp for as long as I can remember. 

      NetApp is incredibly highly available, very redundant, and very resilient. If I am going to put any workload on any storage platform out there, I am putting it on NetApp. Then, with the bandwidth and throughput that you get with Cisco UCS and the Nexus switching platform, it is really unparalleled and cannot be matched.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It scales out and up, so you can go both directions depending on what the needs are on the NetApp side. On the UCS side, it scales out beautifully. Everything ties back to the fabric interconnects, and you can scale up to 20 chassis, so a ridiculous amount of compute power for any sized workload.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The collaborative tech support model that NetApp and Cisco have together is what sets them apart when you look at other solutions out there. There are so many times where customers and partners who are trying to support their customers have to call around, then you are in a back and forth battle between vendors. This does not happen in the FlexPod solution because of the collaborative support model between Cisco and NetApp, as well as VMware and some of the other partners. They can pass information back and forth to ensure the customer is getting the best experience possible, and that is what makes it shine.

      How was the initial setup?

      From a setup perspective, I come at it from two different angles. 

      1. As a customer, I was involved very early on in some of those stages. At that point in time, it looked complex to me, especially earlier on in my career. 
      2. Now, I have quite a few years of industry experience under my belt and working with both of these products. I would not say it is overly complex. Both NetApp and Cisco have gone to great lengths to simplify the process and IT, as a whole. There is a continued evolution of it, and you are going to continue to see the product get better.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would rate it in the upper echelon of an eight or nine. I like the FlexPod product. Primarily going back to the NetApp resiliency, there is no workload that I would not put on the NetApp platform, whether it is the All Flash FAS, the spinning hybrid disk, etc. NetApp is paramount when it comes to high availability and resiliency. Then, on the UCS side, you are taking the leader in networking, bandwidth, and throughput, and basically building that backbone for compute infrastructure. 

      The bandwidth and throughout that you get from it and the changes which we saw in my customer days going from the HPC 7000 series chassis, where we were constantly constrained for throughput and bandwidth. We were seeing 60 to 70 megabit throughput on huge ISO files, and you dump it over into UCS (same NetApp storage on the back-end), and you are seeing 200 to 400 megabits of throughput. 

      It is just unparalleled. So, it is definitely the leader out there.

      Disclosure: 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.
      DevinChappell
      Solution Architect at Charter telecom
      Video Review
      Real User
      Having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged
      Pros and Cons
      • "FlexPods allow us to go through and roll out compute, having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged."
      • "I would like to see more CVDs and more published designs around a multi-hypervisor approach within a single pod."

      What is most valuable?

      FlexPod allows us to go through and roll out compute, having a converged infrastructure with the same level of simplicity that you would expect of a hyper-converged.

      What needs improvement?

      There needs to be a discussion around the management plane of things. The driving message has been tied altogether with UCS Director. 

      UCS Director is a great product. It is relatively affordable for what it delivers. However, for a lot of the upper/mid-level market, it is probably a little bit of overkill in terms of the day-to-day administration, and even the initial configuration to get it up and running. If there was more of a condensed version, like offering managed services on top of it, that is how we get around it for some of our more simple-minded customers. If there was some sort of middle of the road approach to management, it would probably be an improvement.

      What do I think about the stability of the solution?

      We have not had many issues from an architecture and design perspective. Gear always has quirks from time to time. It has been very reliable and stable for us, and it deploys for customers.

      What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

      It scales very easily. We are able to go through and add individual components as needed, whether its storage computer networking without being locked into a particular sizing matrix, so it grows and shrinks as needed with relative ease.

      How is customer service and technical support?

      The tech support is world-class. We have never had any major issues or complaints. The response times are generally very good. 

      How was the initial setup?

      There is a lot to do, but the process is very well-documented. The nature of the infrastructure allows us to basically go through and work with a series of templates that we can stamp out very quickly. For the vast majority of the deployments that we do for customers, I have an information gathering sheet that I email them a couple weeks before deployment, and just from the information that we collect, we can get the configuration 98 percent of the way done.

      What other advice do I have?

      I would rate it about an eight out of 10. We have been very happy with the product. It has been very successful for us. We have a lot of customers who are thrilled with what we have done. As a VAR, it is easy for us to go through, manage, and maintain. That sort of middle of the road management piece would be a big part of it, and I would like to see more CVDs and more published designs around a multi-hypervisor approach within a single pod. This would be an improvement.

      Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: We work as a VAR and MSP. The most important thing for us is the trust relationship with a vendor. Support and reliability are important, and not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but for the most part, every major vendor has support and reliability now. However, the relationship, being able to go through and build with a vendor, then the trust that you establish with a vendor for us is the most critical thing.

      Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
      Kent Christiansen
      Practice Director at Datalink
      Video Review
      Reseller
      It has taken the risk out of our customers' businesses, because there is less for them to try to figure out
      Pros and Cons
      • "Our customers get their applications to market more quickly, and it has taken the risk out of their business, because there is less for them to try to figure out."

        How has it helped my organization?

        We have sold to more than 500 clients on FlexPod. It becomes an architecture, so in some cases, they understand the architecture. Then, they say, "Okay, I have another data center, and they can go and recreate it." We have had clients who have bought dozens. Others, we give them the assurance that the application is going to run. Therefore, there are a tremendous amount of attributes to it.

        What is most valuable?

        FlexPod is an architecture that a lot of our major customers are running with their most mission critical stuff. The big value proposition is it has been well thought out and well put together. So, it is getting them to get their applications to market more quickly, and it has taken the risk out of their business, because there is less for them to try to figure out.

        What needs improvement?

        It is always improving. We went from the first FlexPods, then to All Flash. We are actually sitting here with Cisco at Cisco Live talking about some of the new features in UCS that are coming out and be integrated. So, there is exciting stuff that we probably can't even talk about. Better ways to make it simpler to operate. If it is easy for you to set up, it doesn't matter if the customer doesn't have to do it, and they are enabling us to provide those seamless services, cloud-like services and cloud-like experiences. A lot of stuff is still happening, even though it is an eight year-old product.

        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

        It has been in the market for probably eight years now. This might seem old for technology, but it is continually improving in simplicity, performance, and reliability. It is absolutely stable. It is very well tested. There are probably 100 CVDs, so this shows you how much testing they do. We do additional testing, management, and monitoring. Because it is an integrated system, it is a lot easier to monitor, manage, and operate.

        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

        FlexPod is primarily built to scale up with your most important applications, but you can scale it out to some degree. There are a lot of different architectures: cloud, hyperconverged, etc., which have different attributes to them. However, when you have your most mission critical stuff and you need it to scale up providing consistent performance, that is really what it was built for.

        How is customer service and technical support?

        We put a layer over support. We support the entire FlexPod environment plus applications,  cloud, etc., which is something that you will see with us in delivery. 

        NetApp and Cisco have been working together very closely. If we run into a problem where we need support from NetApp or Cisco to support our client, it goes very quickly because they are working together in labs: designing, managing, and supporting these environments.

        How was the initial setup?

        The FlexPod initial setup is straightforward if you know what you are doing in the data centers. There are simpler things. For FlexPod, you still need IT staff to set it up (that is what we do). We help build it out for the client. It is not a one button thing, and there are some things like that. It is more of an enterprise architecture. It is absolutely straightforward for us to set it up, certify it, and validate it, but there is a lot more to getting applications on it and tying them into the operations.

        What was our ROI?

        There are a lot of different ways to measure it, but the ROI is compared to the old way. The old way was quite frankly trying to figure out plumbing:

        • What do I do with networking?
        • What do I do with storage?
        • What do I do with compute?
        • How do I make it work together?
        • How do I test it?

        There are a lot of papers on ROI (8:1, 10:1, and so on). It is pretty easy to understand that I am not doing all this busy work, plumbing, etc. It is coming to me pretty much as an integrated system, and I am delivering an application. There are a lot of different ways to measure it, from business outcomes to what it costs me to do it.

        What other advice do I have?

        It is a 10 out of 10 for us. We will go in and talk to a client about all things that they are trying to do, from cloud on. A significant percentage come to the conclusion that they want to run their most important stuff on FlexPod architecture.

        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: At first, businesses did not select a vendor. They thought, "Why wouldn't I just buy all this stuff myself and figure it out." 

        Initially, five to six years ago, a lot of companies were organized differently. They had a networking team, a server team, and a storage team, which didn't even agree. We had to help them understand the value of coming together. As people start going in and start thinking, "Okay, I need service-like delivery. I need to compete with cloud, if I'm going to deliver an application in my company. How are other people are doing it?"

        So, they had to start figuring out how to consolidate. FlexPod is a converged infrastructure, and they had to use it. There are a few companies that are still a little disorganized, but most of them, even large companies, have come back and said, "I get it, this is why I need to do this."

        Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
        Craig Mcdonnell
        Director of Integration Services at Charter Communications, Inc.
        Video Review
        Consultant
        FlexPod means I will have reliability, flexibility, and scalability
        Pros and Cons
        • "The documentation alone that NetApp provides can guide anybody through the setup process."
        • "I would like to see more interoperability within FlexPods. This comes into more of how we grow from multiple domains to a massive domain."

        How has it helped my organization?

        It has been enabling as a data for our service platform. 

        FlexPods have been able to grow, build, and change how they looks at data analytics by setting up the system and enabling them to grow as they need. We can add them to additional NetApp domains allowing them to scale quite large and collect as much information on their data plane as they need.

        What is most valuable?

        FlexPod means I will have reliability, flexibility, and scalability. The three main variables that I rely upon to deliver whatever I need to my clients.

        What needs improvement?

        I would like to see more interoperability within FlexPods. This comes into more of how we grow from multiple domains to a massive domain. That would be fun to see in the future.

        What do I think about the stability of the solution?

        It is extremely stable. That is the reason that I love the platform. The platform allows us to leave during the day, and at night the system continues to run. We come back the next day and it gives us the flexibility of adding more users. We have about more than 20 high-end clients and almost 5000 virtual machines on ten domains which means ten FlexPods. Because of that, we are able to provide our clients with a completely stable, versatile platform.

        What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

        We use it both in the field and in the lab. In the lab, scalability means that my clients (which are all internal users) are building software, writing code, and building up new applications that we provide for them. We have around 26 million subscribers for Charter. Within the platform, we are able to leverage and give those individuals tenants the necessary tools to grow and build what they need to build to provide services to our external clients.

        How is customer service and technical support?

        Support is supreme, everything from documentation to having people who will jump in and support our systems. When we were tied to the automatic provisioning system on command, it allowed us to tell when a device had gone bad. We get drives sent to us automatically, then we replace those drives, and we continue to service our client. Zero downtime, that is what we love: a lights out type operations.

        How was the initial setup?

        At first, it seems a little complex. As you get going, you realize it is quite straightforward. The documentation alone that NetApp provides can guide anybody through the process. You can hire external vendors to assist you with it, but if you have some knowledgeable people, and they read the documentation, in a few short days, you will be up and operational.

        What was our ROI?

        I have seen what I would consider ROI by my clients' value stream. When we first started out, we were using a lot of disparate systems. We went ahead and departmentalized on this particular product, which enabled us to start to see value in our clients, who said, "I am operational now. I am running. I have the system up with little downtime." 

        We had our system running for 18 months, and we had other systems which were crashing on a regular basis. We started having customers transfer from those systems to ours. So, at first, the customers were running their own systems, then they jumped on ours.

        We manage more than 20 large clients. Those may include groups of several hundred people for each one of those clients. So, it is 20 clients, but our development group is around 300 people, our voice group is over 100 people, etc.

        What other advice do I have?

        I rate it as a 10 out of 10. I always have. I feel it is something special and unique. Not only do you get the best with the Cisco platform compute, but then I get NetApp for my storage, and it just works. It is reliable, and it has given me every aspect of what I am looking for to provide to my clients. My team of experts, as they come in and work on it, know that at the end of the day, they get to leave and go home to be with their families. It does not give them problems, and it is consistent beyond compare.

        Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

        • We look for who the client is or who the vendor is.
        • What kind of reputation they have.
        • How they are perceived in the market.
        • How they treat us, and if they treat us like a partner. 

        NetApp's a partner to us. There are a lot of vendors out there who come in and want to sell you something and leave. NetApp is here for the long haul. They are here to provide service,  engage, and make sure that we are part of their community. I find when I have an issue that I can call on my sales rep and my technical rep, and also just reach out directly to NetApp for the support. They are going to be there for me, no matter what time of day or night, whatever is going on. Very rarely do I need it because they are so proactive in everything they do for us.

        Disclosure: 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.
        System Analyst at ONEOK, Inc.
        Video Review
        Real User
        Our Cisco solution interoperates with it very easily
        Pros and Cons
        • "DR has been tremendously easier."

          What is most valuable?

          The consolidation of our data center. It helps us migrate. It makes DR easier for us. Our Cisco solution interoperates with it very easily. It makes visibility into those different environments easy for the virtualization guys, the Window admins, and telecom as a whole. Holistically, it is a lot better.

          What needs improvement?

          This question doesn't really pertain to me.

          I know the virtualization guys love the FlexPod, and we do too. It is the visibility into it is nice, and it interacts with our Cisco data center well.

          What do I think about the stability of the solution?

          It is stable. We are migrating our whole data center onto the FlexPod. We have vetted out all of the issues that we could be running with the resiliency and redundancy. So, it is our solution moving forward.

          What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

          It scales very well. We use this for all of our DR. We just spin it up at our DR location.

          How is customer service and technical support?

          I do not have a lot of interaction with them. We have assisted their tech resources, bringing up cores and running cable runs. They seemed sufficient.

          How was the initial setup?

          This is a little bit out of my environment. They give us what they need on-premise from a telecom's perspective. Then, our virtualization teams and the NetApp teams go in and deploy it. I can't speak on the granular issues.

          What was our ROI?

          We are pushing big towards the ACI infrastructure within our data center. Rack space is another, then integrate the storage solutions into that. As a company, we have seen return on investment. Therefore, I think the product is going to work out.

          What other advice do I have?

          I rate it as a nine and a half out of 10, because of all the additional visibility and the integration with our equipment, and how well it plays. DR has been tremendously easier.

          The most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It is a little of everything. Support is key because no network is the same. No protocols running across it are the same. You are going to run into weird issues, and talking to our virtualization guys, they are really happy with support. I see NetApp all the time on our campus.

          Disclosure: 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.
          Technical Operations Manager at Dyncorp
          Video Review
          Real User
          We can deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite
          Pros and Cons
          • "FlexPod gives us the opportunity to deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite, so we can do all the configuration remotely."

            What is most valuable?

            The value in FlexPod is that we have to deploy a virtual suite to 280 locations around the world. FlexPod gives us the opportunity to deploy a product which is fully built and racked with minimal touch installation when it arrives onsite, so we can do all the configuration remotely. 

            What needs improvement?

            It is hard to think of any additional features. It has everything that we need to reach it in some of the worst circumstances given the limitations on the size of the rack and the stack. The product is very well done.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is very stable. We deploy to a lot of countries where they have unstable infrastructure and we have had very few issues with the stack.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It scales very well. If we need to add additional virtual host server capacity, we can throw in another C220 server or additional storage with a NetApp shelf. It is fantastic for that. Our sites range from quite small to up to 3000 users.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            The technical support is very good. Being unified under one single point of contact for all products in the stack is very good. We found that our time to open/close incidences is much better than when we were doing it on individual components with individual vendors.

            What was our ROI?

            We have absolutely seen ROI. We have saved between two to four million dollars on travel alone over the past 24 months. We have deployed this to 75 percent of the sites where we will be deploying it. We have a little over 200 units installed. The travel savings alone has been huge for the organization.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would give it a nine out of 10, simply because it has helped us change the way we do business: From being a receive, integrate, box up, ship out, unbox, and rerack. It has been fantastic and changed our business model.   

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: It is all of it. 

            • Support
            • Reliability
            • Flexibility to adapt on the fly when we need to modify and install, then support certain circumstances.
            • Meet the needs which were not outlined in the original project.

            FlexPod has been fantastic.

            Disclosure: 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.
            David_Harrison
            Snr Technical Solutions Architect at World Wide Technology
            Video Review
            MSP
            The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale up and scale out
            Pros and Cons
            • "The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale-up and scale-out."
            • "Large and small companies do not have time to design the compute, the amount of storage, and how it works together. They are buying pre-proven, pretested solutions with reference architectures already in place."
            • "FlexPods can include the new networking and new virtualization of storage and data center interconnectivity with the networking side of it. They can evolve and grow by connecting pods together."

            How has it helped my organization?

            A lot of companies do not want to put the time into designing, then figuring how much compute with storage and networking. With FlexPod, companies can buy solutions that have been pre-tested. They know it will work. They are companies out there backing and supporting it, like ours, with worldwide technologies who can support and make it part of their solution.

            What is most valuable?

            The combination of compute and storage networking is pretty complicated to accomplish. The real benefit of this solution is that it is pre-architected with the ability to scale-up and scale-out. You can buy this solution, and it is going to work, because it is a proven solution.

            What needs improvement?

            Anything can be improved. As ACI grows and storage grows (and changes), this is how FlexPods can evolve. They can include the new networking and new virtualization of storage and data center interconnectivity with the networking side of it. FlexPods can evolve and grow by connecting pods together.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is stable because it has been tested. That is one of the reasons that companies use FlexPod. I can combine compute, storage, and networking, but I would have to test it to make sure it is configured and labelled correctly. They are buying a pre-proven solution, and that is one of the big plays for FlexPod quite frankly.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It can scale up and scale out, which is a big advantage.

            How are customer service and technical support?

            I have dealt with them quite a few times. I would put them up there with Cisco tech. They are easy to get a hold of, easy to understand, and as partner, easy to work with.

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

            For a lot of customers, when they are setting up data centers or adding onto their data center, it gives them a way to buy a prepackaged solution. A lot of FlexPods that I have sold, they are building a new data center, or adding on. It is an easy purchase or add-on, because they know it will work, and they know it will be scalable and reliable.

            How was the initial setup?

            Setup is easy. They have already preconfigured things. Things are prelabeled, have colors, and they plugin. That is one of the reasons that you buy FlexPod, because of the ease, proven reliability and performance. 

            What was our ROI?

            Large and small companies do not have time to design the compute, the amount of storage, and how it works together. They are buying pre-proven, pretested solutions with reference architectures already in place. So, a lot of FlexPods you can buy with reference architectures and how to install them on top of it solutions.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it as a nine out of 10, because every product has room for advancement.

            • It is a mature solution.
            • It has been pretested.
            • There is reference architectures for it.
            • It is easy to use.
            • It uses the best compute.
            • It uses the best storage.
            • It uses the best networking, which all works together in a proven solution. 
            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Taran Nasseth
            Data Center Engineer at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
            Video Review
            Real User
            The setup was fairly simple. I picked it up quickly. It was an easy deployment.
            Pros and Cons
            • "It is easy to deploy, works well, the reps are good, and the support is great."
            • "When you open the box, they give you a very nice diagram. Which was my initial guide through setting up any NetApp SAN. It worked itself out pretty well."
            • "It is not as easy as a hyperconverged solution, but you are going to have a hard time finding that anywhere, where you can just plugin and run a deployment app."

            What is most valuable?

            The setup was fairly simple. It was one of the first ones that I had done. I picked it up quickly. Overall, it was an easy deployment.

            What needs improvement?

            It does a really good job of what it is marketed to do. It is not as easy as a hyperconverged solution, but you are going to have a hard time finding that anywhere, where you can just plugin and run a deployment app. I do not know if they could make it work with a deployment app, but it was easy enough already, so no improvement is necessary. 

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            The only time that we have taken it down was when I have personally messed it up. That was all on me, and I can't fault NetApp at all.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            We just added a new SAN onto our old one to scale it up and add new functionality.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            We had an issue not too long ago, which ended up being my fault, but they figured it out pretty quick. We were able to determine before Memorial Day weekend, thankfully, that it was my fault, and not a product instability nor a problem with the new code. We called in because it was a pretty severe issue. We had a 20 minute outage because of it, and the issue did not resolve itself when I backed up my latest change. Therefore, we did not think it was my fault. However, everything just took awhile to come back up. So, we called support, who became engaged. It was pretty quick to resolve. 

            How was the initial setup?

            When you open the box, they give you a very nice diagram. Which was my initial guide through setting up any NetApp SAN. It worked itself out pretty well. I knew a decent bit of the network side as well, so I might have had an unfair advantage. I connected everything up like in the diagram and went through the documentation online, then had most of the SAN set up by the time that we had engaged with our engineer to actually set up the SAN.

            So, the initial setup was pretty straightforward.

            What other advice do I have?

            I really can't fault them. I can't give them a 10 out of 10, because that seems over-the-top. It is not a revolutionary product, but it is a very good product. I would give it an eight out of 10, because it is easy to deploy, works well, the reps are good, and the support is great.

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: The product works. Our vendor team is great. I love our account manager and our tech guy is great. It is a confident feeling.

            Disclosure: 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.
            Evan Wheatley
            Solution Architect at Charter
            Video Review
            Real User
            With the validated designs and the support behind it, it's a great product
            Pros and Cons
            • "The consistent delivery that we receive from the products. We deliver it to different customers, and we know it will be a consistent end-to-end solution as well."
            • "According to the product managers, there are some new products coming which will address some of our concerns around portability and compliance."

            What is most valuable?

            The consistent delivery that we receive from the products. We deliver it to different customers, and we know it will be a consistent end-to-end solution as well. So, this helps us from a delivery side of things.

            What needs improvement?

            According to the product managers, there are some new products coming which will address some of our concerns around portability and compliance.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            With the design guides that we go through, it has obviously been vetted and validated. It is very stable in our eyes.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            Generally, our deployments are on the smaller side. We have been able to leverage the FlexPod express side for smaller deployments. I haven't hit any larger scale ones, but from everything that I have read, it would scale relevantly.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            With the support side, we deal directly with Cisco, not directly with NetApp. We do have support from all of the vendors, even if it is or isn't a FlexPod solution. The support that we get from NetApp is second to none.

            How was the initial setup?

            I wouldn't say it is more complex. It is different, because there are a lot more components than if you were just going to buy a traditional compute only or storage only solution. So, there is an added complexity given the size of the deployment and the number of components. However, it is not difficult from a deployment perspective by any stretch. If you were deploying those components individually, it would be the same amount of effort.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it close to a nine or 10, because of what the product looks like, the validated designs which are out there, and the support behind it. It's a great product. That is why we sell it.

            Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: 

            A combination of everything from best of breed, support, and if other customers who have used it have had good experiences with it.

            Disclosure: 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.
            Director of Infrastructure Operations at ONEOK, Inc.
            Video Review
            Real User
            It's an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain
            Pros and Cons
            • "For our DR, we rely heavily on SnapMirror technologies to accomplish our disaster recovery in VMware SRM."
            • "It is an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain."
            • "On the UCS side, sometimes it is difficult to set up."
            • "We have had bugs which have been released, even though they have been minor."

            How has it helped my organization?

            As far as improvement, I don't know of anything immediate other than the performance with the All Flash. For our disaster recovery (DR), we rely heavily on SnapMirror technologies to accomplish our disaster recovery in VMware SRM. The most immediate benefit is definitely the performance.

            What is most valuable?

            When it started out, we did not purchase it as a FlexPod. It sort of organically grew into a FlexPod: UCS, VMware, and Cisco for the network. 

            The storage is reliable in its performance.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            The only downtime that we have had has been our fault with misconfiguration issues.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It does scale. It scales very well.

            How are customer service and technical support?

            I have to admit that I don't call them directly, but everyone on my team has nothing but good things to say about them.

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

            It was organic. We were running IBM storage. We knew we wanted to run a different storage, so we looked at NetApp, which was a good fit. We had run it in the past. So, we decided to go with NetApp. We were already switching from HPE to Cisco UCS for our compute side, and we already had a Cisco network. With the VMware added onto it, we started talking to NetApp and they told us that we could certify it as a FlexPod. So, we just organically grew into the FlexPod product.

            How was the initial setup?

            From all of the feedback that I have received, it is an easy, straightforward system to set up and maintain.

            What was our ROI?

            None that we have measured. We do not measure any of our equipment or our data center, as far as ROI.

            What other advice do I have?

            I would rate it as a nine out of 10, because I rarely rate anything as a perfect. It does have issues. We have had bugs which have been released, even though they have been minor. As far as the configuration (going back to configuration issues), on the UCS side, sometimes it is difficult to set up. However, once you get it set up, it is easy to add additional compute to it.

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

            How has it helped my organization?

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

            It just works fine.

            What is most valuable?

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

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

            How is customer service and technical support?

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

            How was the initial setup?

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

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

            What was our ROI?

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

            ROI is not a question or concern.

            What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

            Disclosure: 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.
            Troy Brick Margelofsky
            Solutions Architect Team Lead at CDW
            Real User
            The most valuable thing for me is the shorter time to market
            Pros and Cons
            • "It is extremely stable and well-supported because of the leadership and partnerships put in place."
            • "The most valuable thing for me is the shorter time to market."
            • "Both NetApp and Cisco need to do improvements in their day-to-day operations management upgrades."
            • "A piece where FlexPod has come up short in the past and an area for them to improve upon: single pane of glass management and single pane of glass upgrade process."

            How has it helped my organization?

            It takes the time to market, then shrinks and shortens it.

            What is most valuable?

            The most valuable thing for me as a partner, as well as our customers, is the shorter time to market. 

            In addition, the most important pieces are:

            • The partnership between NetApp and Cisco.
            • The engineering effort and time.
            • The resources that they put into writing the CBDs.
            • Doing all the lab validations.
            • Having this product supported as a converged infrastructure.

            What needs improvement?

            Both NetApp and Cisco need to do improvements in their day-to-day operations management upgrades, and they are working on it. 

            A piece where FlexPod has come up short in the past and an area for them to improve upon: single pane of glass management and single pane of glass upgrade process. It gets a tricky, because there are two different companies and two different partnerships. You do not buy it as a single product; you buy it all at once, and deploy it. 

            For how long have I used the solution?

            More than five years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It is extremely reliable. The length of time of this whole program has been reduced, greatly. FlexPod is very innovative on a month-to-month basis, but it is also extremely stable and well-supported because of the leadership and partnerships put in place.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It does scale well. I do not want to infinite scalability, but it is no different than a traditional data center. Silos, network, and storage, and compute; it is all of those same components. It is just prevalidated and predesigned. 

            I used an analogy the other day. Someone learning how to cook and someone else figured out the entire recipe for you, you just have to cook it. When you go to scale, you can scale whichever pieces of the infrastructure that you need, either collectively, or you can leave it.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Because of the length of time that FlexPod has been around, it has been proven. The support center, Level 1 all the way through to the specialists, understand how the program works. NetApp's support understands the partnership with Cisco, VMware, and Microsoft, and the entirety of the system. 

            At this time, they have become very good at understanding limits. They can have a management and/or partner issue during the deployment and still maintain the ticket. Our customers love it.

            How was the initial setup?

            It is very straightforward. 

            If we had never done it before, someone else has been the design guide, someone else has been the deployment guide, and it is step-by-step. If you have never deployed NetApp or Cisco before, you can follow these guides. If you have, they are just an augmentation of what you already know, and just a bunch of best practices, so you can get it up and running in a much quicker fashion.

            What other advice do I have?

            It has a lot of big partner resources, which are consistently behind it, such as thousands of engineering hours and new CBDs coming out every year. It has both proven infrastructure which has been running for the eight-plus years, as well as being innovative. Every time Cisco comes out with a new Blade, Fabric Interconnects, or new switches, or NetApp comes out with new arrays, they are being integrated into the product that year as well as being integrated into the rest of the data conference suite. From that perspective, you are not really inventing anything; you are taking proven things and implementing them in a particularly efficient manner.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Ali Tadir
            Managing Partner at Nextgen
            Real User
            It simplifies the management of the entire system

            How has it helped my organization?

            It is the first phase of the hyperconverged systems. 

            What is most valuable?

            It simplifies the management of the entire system. 

            What needs improvement?

            Some of the define features could use improvement.  It needs more power.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            We could not tell with the infrastructure entirely. We had some performance issues, but as soon as we opened the FlexPod, the technical support fixed them.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It is scalable. If you want to scale up merely with capacity, it is easy.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Regarding technical support, if you have any questions with the new configuration, just open a ticket to tech support and they…

            How has it helped my organization?

            It is the first phase of the hyperconverged systems. 

            What is most valuable?

            It simplifies the management of the entire system. 

            What needs improvement?

            • Some of the define features could use improvement. 
            • It needs more power.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            We could not tell with the infrastructure entirely. We had some performance issues, but as soon as we opened the FlexPod, the technical support fixed them.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            It is scalable. If you want to scale up merely with capacity, it is easy.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            Regarding technical support, if you have any questions with the new configuration, just open a ticket to tech support and they will fix everything.

            How was the initial setup?

            The initial setup was straightforward. 

            What about the implementation team?

            I was also in the installation phase, which was easy.

            What other advice do I have?

            It is a complete solution.

            Disclosure: 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.
            Technica3f50
            Technical Solutions Architect at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
            MSP
            Enables integration of different products into one validated design, but updates could be smoother
            Pros and Cons
            • "The most valuable feature is the ability to integrate different products into one validated design. That allows customers to understand and get the value out of the hardware, as it was designed."
            • "I would like to see better operations, a single pane of glass to manage and monitor the entire design across VMware, Cisco, etc. I would also like the upgrade process to be a little smoother."

            What is our primary use case?

            The primary use case is for customers that want to replicate infrastructure over and over again and have a consistent architecture for their workloads. It's appropriate for larger enterprises that want the pod design in their data centers.

            What is most valuable?

            The most valuable feature is the ability to integrate different products into one validated design. That allows customers to understand and get the value out of the hardware, as it was designed.

            What needs improvement?

            I would like to see better operations, a single pane of glass to manage and monitor the entire design across VMware, Cisco, etc. I would also like the upgrade process to be a little smoother.

            For how long have I used the solution?

            Three to five years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            From my experience, it is a consistently stable, reliable product.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            The benefit of it being a pod is you have a lot of flexibility in terms of the hardware and platforms that you choose to have in that validated design, depending on your particular needs.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            I personally haven't experienced the tech support from NetApp, but I have heard good things about it from customers.

            How was the initial setup?

            I think the setup is straightforward, with the designs that I've seen in terms of the physical topology. "This link needs to go to this link. You've got to configure it in this way." The validated designs do a good job in terms of the layer 1 and all of the configuration.

            What other advice do I have?

            I rate FlexPod a seven out of 10. The reason behind that is, there is a lot of value in FlexPod, and FlexPod is incorporating a lot of the newer technologies, like ACI, into the design, rather than just keeping it an xOS, as an example.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Jan Willem Varossieau
            Consultant Technical at Vosko
            Consultant
            Presents a new architecture that is both scalable and programmable

            What is our primary use case?

            We are a NetApp partner. I, myself, am doing ACI and data center stuff. We have been active for a year and have several customers running on FlexPod SF functionality. We don't do native NetApp stuff, only FlexPod SF. We are mostly looking at healthcare, and we also in the banking world. We have one customer to whom we sold this as a storage product.

            What is most valuable?

            It's a new architecture, really scalable and programmable. When you look at SDN propositions it fits very well in a next-gen data center.

            What needs improvement?

            I can't really say anything about improvements right now because we are relatively new to this product. It is implemented for the functionality and it delivers the functionality. Right now, it does everything we want. …

            What is our primary use case?

            We are a NetApp partner. I, myself, am doing ACI and data center stuff. We have been active for a year and have several customers running on FlexPod SF functionality. We don't do native NetApp stuff, only FlexPod SF.

            We are mostly looking at healthcare, and we also in the banking world. We have one customer to whom we sold this as a storage product.

            What is most valuable?

            It's a new architecture, really scalable and programmable. When you look at SDN propositions it fits very well in a next-gen data center.

            What needs improvement?

            I can't really say anything about improvements right now because we are relatively new to this product. It is implemented for the functionality and it delivers the functionality. Right now, it does everything we want.

            For how long have I used the solution?

            One to three years.

            What do I think about the stability of the solution?

            It's a really good, stable product. It has good resilience.

            What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

            You can scale it. You can add more boxes and you can have more IOPS available if you want. It's very easy to add new hardware to the cluster.

            How is customer service and technical support?

            I'm not directly involved in support cases right now so I can't say what the support is like from my own experience, but what I have heard from my colleagues is that the support is good.

            How was the initial setup?

            The setup is really straightforward. What I heard was you plug it in, you bring it up, and it's easy to install.

            What other advice do I have?

            It's good, it's a very nice product. Very scalable.

            Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
            Technical Operations Manager at Dyncorp
            Real User
            Number one in reliability with excellent convergence
            Pros and Cons
            • "The vendor delivers a fully-configured prebuilt system with a certain baseline on it."
            • "Integrated support: It is all under one support contract."

              What is our primary use case?

              The vendor delivers a fully-configured prebuilt system with a certain baseline on it. We can ship it to five continents. They can roll them into place, plug in two power cords and six network cables, and we are off to the races.

              Remotely, we have installed 230 systems globally (no domestic) in the past 22 months.

              How has it helped my organization?

              The product is pretty good for our environment. It is overkill for our environment. In places that we are putting these, it could serve 2000 to 3000 users and it has to serve 50 users for us. It is a sledgehammer system approach, in that we are putting systems which are not necessarily rightsized, but they are redundant because they are going to places which are fairly isolated.

              What is most valuable?

              • Integrated support: It is all under one support contract. 
              • The convergence is excellent. 
              • It is number one in reliability.

              What do I think about the stability of the solution?

              It is a stable solution. The downtime that we experience are typically related to power or facility issues in countries which have less than stable power, or it may be related to WAN outages in places that do not have solid telecom services.

              What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

              It is scalable. We could throw another host server or shelf in there. We have Nexus switches at the top of the stack. If the hardware survives, the product will probably last us ten years.

              How is customer service and technical support?

              Generally, tech support has been really good. Where we have issues, the vendor steps in and assists. It has been very good.

              How was the initial setup?

              The initial setup is very straightforward.

              What other advice do I have?

              Cisco NetApp products are a pretty die-hard.

              Disclosure: 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.
              Enterprise Solution Architect at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees