How to Speed Infrastructure Deployments and Save Money

By Michael Harding, Product Marketing Manager, FlexPod


As the Oracle community heads to IOUG this week, there will be a number of us not heading to Denver, but still engaging with the Oracle community, and sharing news on our innovations.  The FlexPod team here at NetApp has been busy with a Spring launch that includes an update to the core platform, the addition of more advanced switching capability, and announcing a total of 8 new reference architectures. This quarterly launch drives the program forward, due in a big part, to the fact that half of those new reference architectures are for Oracle workloads!  This is evidence of a growing commitment from the FlexPod effort to Oracle in particular, as well as our strategy of broadening our validation work around popular business-critical workloads.


Why Converged Infrastructure

IT teams are evolving how they deploy and buy infrastructure, and are shifting to Converged Infrastructure or “CI”.  One analyst recently stated, “In a few years, we’ll move away from people buying [infrastructure] piece parts… No longer can people buy individual pieces like storage. Whatever they buy has to be designed and tested to work together.”  And at NetApp we’re seeing this every day.  Rather than customers going to our reseller partners for a single IT ingredient like storage, they want the recipe for the whole meal so to speak, and that’s what a FlexPod reference architecture gives them: the plan to confidently assemble a whole solution – server, networking, storage and application – according to a pre-validated design.


We’re told by our analysts that market adoption of CI is 4% of total IT spend, growing to 13% in 3 years.  These converged solutions remove a lot of risk and complexity.  They say total cost can be reduced by 25-50%, and downtime decreased by 50-75%.   Another big driver is the savings in time: CI accelerates the traditional approach of months of planning, procuring, deploying and testing of equipment.  New system rollouts that took 6 months are being reduced to half that. Customers are finding that FlexPod is the ‘Fast Forward button’ for IT Infrastructure.


Newest Oracle on FlexPod Reference Architectures

So with this Spring release, we are announcing many new Oracle-based reference architectures for FlexPod.  These new validated designs bring FlexPod converged infrastructure benefits to an expanding set of Oracle workloads.  Here they are, listed with the target publication date:


  • FlexPod with Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, Apr 30 – this is a brand new solution, and one that will be popular for Financial Services
  • FlexPod with Oracle Linux, Jun 14 – this is the Oracle Linux bare-metal design
  • FlexPod with Oracle VM, Jul 1 – This Oracle VM architecture expands our virtualization coverage for Oracle user base.


Note that these are coming out in the next few weeks and months but we wanted to make sure folks at IUOG got the heads-up now. 


Why Flexpod with Oracle Linux and Oracle VM

Everyone knows that Oracle is the market share leader in RDBMS, and more than that, they are an ISV associated with Tier 1 applications.  The FlexPod integration with Oracle Linux and Oracle VM demonstrates the growing FlexPod investment in the Oracle database and application space maps to NetApp’s increasing movement into Tier 1 storage.

For our resellers and customers, the value of these designs is that they are pretested and validated Oracle database and application building blocks.  Resellers I speak with really like the velocity that FlexPod brings them – being able to more quickly get solution infrastructure and packaged applications deployed, allowing more energy to be focused on the customization and development end of these engagements.


Enough from me – take it from an Oracle pro

My colleague Ray Austin, who has spent about 8 years at Oracle and Sun, and a career in enterprise tech, specializes on the Oracle business here at NetApp.  He’s been writing about accelerating and modernizing Oracle via converged infrastructure, and he recently shared some insights on specific ways that Oracle users leverage FlexPod, which I’ve done my best to summarize here.

There’s a large installed base that has been running on now outdated hardware architecture that often can no longer provide the level performance of and availability customers require. Customers running on Itanium, for instance, are out there actively seeking more future-proofed alternatives.  These new Oracle-based reference architectures are well-timed to provide solution-paths for Oracle database and application refreshes.


In addition to this over-arching trend, there are specific Oracle related uses and benefit areas that we’re seeing a lot of on FlexPod:


  • Dev/Test – Test and Development efforts are reducing the time required to spin up new databases and instances with NetApp FlexClones.  Cloning allows you to instantly create virtual copies of databases that use very little incremental storage. And they can be quickly deleted and re-created to speed test cycles.
  • Predictive performance – With FlexPod pre-validated equipment, DBAs and Application teams can expect constant, predictable system performance and uptime.  NetApp storage provides the ability to load-balance volumes without taking applications offline, and the other layers of the infrastructure stack, from hypervisor, modular server chassis, and converged network fabric, contain resiliency and availability features to maximize uptime and performance. 
  • Data protection – With native NetApp storage features like Snapshots and SnapRestore, databases can be backed-up or restored in minutes. They work with RMAN (Oracle Recovery Manager) and also integrate with other native Oracle technologies (Direct NFS client, RAC, ASM) to streamline backups and database recoveries. 
  • Reduced licensing – NetApp storage systems contain their own significant processing capability – the new FAS3250 has 8 Intel Xeon processor cores – and by offloading RMAN backups, compression and encryption to the storage hardware, this frees-up server cycles, not just to improve performance but to reduce the need for licensed server processor cores.  Customers are using non-disruptive volume movement across NetApp storage systems to leverage processing from larger controllers when needed for periodic jobs or an anticipated usage spike, rather than bring additional licensed servers online.


Another dynamic are the traditional storage resellers who are using the FlexPod program to realize a quicker time to first customer by leveraging a pre-validated and tested infrastructure.   In general, FlexPod enables faster time to delivery and market, and promotes repeatable and consistent deployment. Once installed, FlexPod means easier manageability and a future proofed platform.


New Community page

Best wishes for a fun and productive IOUG Collaborate show in Denver from us here in the NetApp FlexPod team in Sunnvale, California and around the globe.   Share your thoughts and experiences on our new FlexPod community page at