FlexPod Goes Big More Architectures, More Workloads, More Use Cases

By Joel McKelvey, Senior Marketing Manager at NetApp


Recently, I have been hearing complaints about FlexPod. Customers seem happy with their existing deployments (a significant number of new FlexPods are sold to existing customers).  There are no complaints about efficiency or operations (FlexPod is the most efficiently integrated infrastructure available). So why are they complaining? The issue is with workloads and use cases.


IT departments demand more…


FlexPod has been so well received by customers that they are demanding FlexPod architectures for an increasing set of deployment types, workloads and applications. Specifically, midsize and small businesses have been clamoring for FlexPod solutions at a smaller scale with midsize-focused features. Large enterprises have been asking for FlexPod solutions or satellite offices and smaller data centers. IT departments struggling with data intensive workloads (aka “big data”) are asking for a FlexPod to meet the specific needs of analytics, high-performance computing or other specialized workloads.


Now FlexPod does more…


Today Cisco and NetApp announced an expanded suite of FlexPod architectures that are designed for the business and technical needs of our customers. The FlexPod Express solution (formerly ExpressPod) has been added to the FlexPod family to better support midsize and smaller it deployments as well as satellite and branch office IT. FlexPod Select has joined the FlexPod family to support big data, analytics, HPC, and other focused, specialized applications or workloads. Together with the existing FlexPod Datacenter solution, the new architectures meet the business and technical requirements that customers demand.


FlexPod Express…


Small and midsized IT departments need a low-cost, high-value integrated infrastructure that is quick and easy to deploy. FlexPod Express provides the convergence, efficiency and low risk benefits of a larger FlexPod architecture, priced for midsize deployments. It contains the features required for midsize deployments (under 500 users) without the mandate to purchase features or devices for larger IT departments. 


FlexPod Express (formerly ExpressPod) is more than just a name change, with this change comes a renewed investment from Cisco and NetApp. Expanded focus includes validation with Cisco UCS Director and Microsoft System Center. New use cases include satellite and branch office deployments as well as a rich roadmap for new workloads, management and mechanisms for purchasing. Now that FlexPod Express is a part of the larger FlexPod family, customers can expect it to continue to evolve and improve just as FlexPod has in the past.


Learn more about FlexPod Express


FlexPod Select…


FlexPod Select is the first solution in the FlexPod portfolio to address targeted workloads, such as high-performance applications. It is designed for dedicated or focused workloads such as big data, analytics, scientific applications and high-performance computing. Initially, FlexPod Select has been validated with Cloudera (distribution including Apache Hadoop) and the Hortonworks Data Platform. These validations bring risk reduction and ease of deployment to big data architectures, while providing the necessary performance and flexibility to support large-scale analytics workloads.


Another key aspect of FlexPod Select is the inclusion of NetApp E-Series storage. In the Cloudera and Hortonworks validations, NetApp E-Series is tested and documented in directly (SAS) attached configurations to Cisco UCS C-Series servers. This is a radical new way of configuring FlexPods that is designed to support the overarching workload requirements of performance and power.


Learn more about FlexPod Select


FlexPod Datacenter…


The increased activity with new FlexPod variations might seem to overshadow the most popular solution; the FlexPod Datacenter (previously called FlexPod) has been enhanced and expanded along with new members of the FlexPod family.


FlexPod Datacenter (aka “regular” FlexPod) has seen a flurry of increased effort in the validation of workloads, devices and management tools. As before, Cisco and NetApp are maintaining or increasing investment in every aspect of FlexPod Datacenter. Our most recent validations include the award-winning work with Microsoft System Center (NetApp won “Microsoft Server – Partner of the Year 2013” in part for FlexPod integration work). Other recent validations include NetApp SnapProtect for data protection, the inclusion of the Cisco Nexus 7000-series switch (and the resulting support for FCoE end-to-end), a refreshed validation with SAP, and numerous other efforts. To browse the broad range of FlexPod Datacenter validation documents, please visit the Cisco Design Zone for FlexPod.


Beyond the Technology…


IT teams often want more than just new use cases. Therefore, you will hear more in the coming months about joint financing offers to make buying easier, joint management initiatives, and further joint technical integration that will be included in every part of the FlexPod solution family. 


Bottom line: Cisco and NetApp are committed to continued investment and innovation with FlexPod and this latest expansion to include FlexPod Express, Datacenter and Select is just the beginning.