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FlexPod Delivers Apollo 11-Like Reliability and Soars into the Clouds

Bruno Messina
Bruno Messina

FlexPod soars in the cloud with new innovations to help support your hybrid cloud datacenter. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 marked the first time that humans had landed on the moon and successfully returned to earth. Before setting foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong said: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a riveting event that captivated a worldwide audience.  Behind the scenes, however, this historic flight was made possible by years of design, planning, testing, testing, and more testing of all the modules, components, and submodules involved.  Beyond this testing, partial voyages (Apollo 8 orbited, but didn’t land on the moon) were part of the testing and planning that paved the way to Apollo 11.  This overall testing and engineering formed a foundational piece of this incredible voyage.

The Testing Behind FlexPod

Like the Apollo 11 moonwalk, the FlexPod® platform has become successful and reliable because of superb engineering and testing. And FlexPod brings its industry-leading testing and reliability to your on-premises data center and hybrid cloud solutions. All the individual software and hardware components of FlexPod are rigorously and robustly engineered before they’re assembled and tested as an entire FlexPod converged infrastructure unit. After these different technologies are combined in a FlexPod infrastructure, more end-to-end workload and application testing is done. FlexPod has withstood the test of time, with over 9,500 customers running thousands of mission-critical workloads throughout the world over a 10-year lifespan. These customers have taken FlexPod on many application “voyages” with outstanding results.

NetApp and Cisco celebrate their 10 year FlexPod partnership. FlexPod, like the Apollo 11 program, uses meticulously tested, industry-leading standardized technologies. For FlexPod, these technologies include NetApp® AFF and FAS storage arrays, Cisco Unified Computing System(Cisco UCS) servers, and Cisco Nexus switches. FlexPod is constantly evolving and modernizing, adding new testing and verification for Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) and NetApp Verified Architectures (NVAs) to its family of more than 175 standard solutions. FlexPod CVDs and NVAs validate the reliability and performance of modern enterprise applications like Red Hat OpenShift, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and SAP — the most complex, scalable, mission-critical applications that run in the largest of enterprises. The FlexPod standard is also continually adding new applications, workloads, and technologies to facilitate a long future roadmap of application, innovation, and technology improvements. FlexPod is industry leading in that this assurance is built on testing of each technology, through many years, over thousands of customers and hundreds of applications. It’s impossible to replicate this level of portfolio, application, and system robustness in a setting with, say, a small storage company, a few applications, and a thousand customers over a span of a few years.

FlexPod Soars into the Clouds

Like the Apollo 11 rocket, FlexPod, too, can reach the clouds. Each of your FlexPod units can be connected to the public cloud, making your on-premises FlexPod infrastructure an excellent launching pad for your hybrid cloud strategy. FlexPod connects to the cloud through NetApp ONTAP® technology, which powers your data fabric — an architecture and set of data services that give your storage consistent capabilities across your choice of endpoints, spanning on-premises, edge, and multiple public cloud environments.

To help you accelerate your digital transformation and rocket your data center forward, the data fabric simplifies and integrates data management.  It delivers consistent and integrated hybrid cloud data services, so you get optimal data visibility and insights, data access and control, and data protection and security. In other words, if you have a current FlexPod infrastructure, you can immediately have a hybrid cloud. If you’re thinking about how to establish a hybrid cloud strategy, FlexPod gives you this hybrid option as a standard offering in each old and new FlexPod unit. ONTAP software for FlexPod enables you to test, develop, back up, archive, or tier to any hyperscaler. You can add more public cloud storage as a backup, tiering, or disaster recovery environment for FlexPod VDI. Azure NetApp Files is an Azure first-party service for migrating and running the most demanding enterprise file workloads in the cloud, including databases, SAP, VDI, and high-performance computing applications. NetApp and Google Cloud have also partnered to offer NetApp Cloud Volumes Service, a fully managed, cloud-native data service that provides advanced data management. Similar ONTAP services exist for AWS.

As a FlexPod customer, you can also use Cisco CloudCenter software to securely deploy and manage your applications in multiple data center, private cloud, and public cloud environments. With the CloudCenter software solution, you can modernize and automate your data center, or you can add public cloud application deployment to your service offering. Because customers throughout the world have experienced this value, FlexPod has earned the #1 most trusted distinction at IT Central Station.

To illustrate this advantage, a recent IDC survey of FlexPod customers found numerous benefits that accrued to IT clients of all sizes. These survey results are proof from FlexPod customers of its overall value proposition and business value, including:
  • 65% more time spent on innovation and new projects
  • 61% improvement in application performance
  • 60% decrease in number of unplanned downtime incidents
  • 34% decrease in data center floor space
  • 29% reduction in power and cooling
  • 24% saved in software capital expenditures (capex)

Testing and verification were the cornerstones of the Apollo 11 success, and they continue to be building blocks in the success of FlexPod. Just as astronauts were assured by the testing, so, too, can FlexPod customers remain confident. You can now add new FlexPod joint technologies solutions such as the following:
  • FlexPod Datacenter with NetApp ONTAP 9.7, Cisco Intersight, and VMware vSphere 6.7 U3. Deep Cisco Intersight Integration in FlexPod UCS servers with continuing FlexPod Intersight innovation on the near-term horizon.
  • FlexPod SAP with ACI added. Expand the FlexPod portfolio of SAP solutions to Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology.
  • FlexPod VDI. FlexPod VDI is a new solution that has been validated with 6,700 users; it’s designed to scale well past 10,000. Use it to engage your existing FlexPod customers who are looking to scale their VDI environments. If you’re an existing FlexPod customer who is looking to scale yourVDI environment, get to know FlexPod VDI. Apollo 11 taught us many things, the most important of which is that testing, testing, and more testing is critical. If you want this kind of reliability for your data center infrastructure with a premier ability to execute a current or future hybrid cloud strategy, then take one small step to FlexPod, and one giant leap forward in your hybrid cloud data center.

If you don’t already use FlexPod and want to begin your FlexPod journey, please visit:

Bruno Messina

Bruno Messina joined NetApp in 2018 and works in product marketing for FlexPod. His previous experience includes a career in product marketing of UCS servers for Cisco Systems and Solaris server marketing and competitive analysis at both Oracle and Sun Microsystems, where he joined in 2000. Bruno spent ten years in various roles of competitive analysis and product management at Sun Microsystems, leading analysis in both the workgroup and enterprise servers. Prior to Sun Microsystems, Bruno spent time finishing his MBA education and worked for two years at Cadence working on product marketing for both board-level and board timing tools. Bruno holds both a BSEE and MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

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