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FlexPod XCS extends the FlexPod infrastructure standard to the hybrid cloud

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Mike Arterbury
Mike Arterbury

Standards are ubiquitous in all our lives. Sometimes it seems as if standards have always been there, but in fact, they evolve over time. One standard that comes to mind is electricity. We rarely think about electricity as a standard, but it is—and it took a while to become so. Over time, mechanical power gave way to on-premises electrical power, and then to centralized generation over standard voltages and frequencies. Today, we simply plug in without giving it a second thought. The voltage, frequency, and receptacles are all standardized—appliance makers only worry about the interface, not the generation. For the most part, electricity is reliable; it’s always on. And thanks to standardization, our new computers, appliances, servers, and phones can tap seamlessly into the electrical grid.

Like electricity, the FlexPod® converged infrastructure solution from NetApp and Cisco is an on-premises and edge standard in converged infrastructure. Now FlexPod XCS extends and evolves the FlexPod on-premises standard to a standard for the hybrid cloud.

FlexPod XCS logo

FlexPod XCS

What would make a converged infrastructure standard also a hybrid cloud standard? It would be an on-premises standard and industry leader. It would be able to handle nearly all workloads, including different versions of applications like OpenStack, vSphere, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), Oracle, OpenStack, and SQL Server—almost any data center or edge workload. It would have a large, satisfied customer roster around the world. It would have an extensive and growing portfolio of end-to-end verified data center and hybrid cloud workloads, built on existing standards and standard processes. And it would be changing and evolving to handle new workloads and technologies.

Let's look at FlexPod XCS in the context of a hybrid cloud standard.

Standardized hybrid cloud features are like plugging into an electrical outlet. The following standardized FlexPod XCS attributes benefit you in numerous ways:

  • The strategic option to benefit from the first and only converged infrastructure that’s natively integrated into three leading cloud providers—Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. Hybrid access enables lower costs and faster access because these services are sold, managed, and supported by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
  • Certainty that all your workloads are tested. Some workloads enable a return on investment of 125% and payback period of 13 months when they’re moved to standardized infrastructure.
  • The ability to lower costs and increase IT productivity with automation, lifecycle management, and full-stack visibility for all your FlexPod XCS systems.
  • The potential to move faster and to align to your business needs. You can choose out-of-the box workflows or combine workflows to suit your customized needs, using NetApp® ONTAP® and Cisco UCS workflows through Cisco Intersight Cloud Orchestrator software.
  • An increase in client choice and options. You can set up your hybrid cloud to a leading public cloud provider in 5 minutes, so any FlexPod or FlexPod XCS system can become a hybrid cloud quickly.
  • Assurance through the longevity of the FlexPod and FlexPod XCS platform with a growing, diversified choice of workloads. The FlexPod family has also added new applications like AI, ML, electronic health records (EHRs), picture archiving and communication system (PACS), and imaging. Over 200 reference architectures (the “appliances” of the standard) have already been tested.
  • The alignment of costs to usage, lower up-front costs, and operational and financial flexibility with FlexPod as a Service (FPaaS) or current consumption models.

Many competitors of FlexPod XCS talk about or message hybrid cloud or describe their infrastructures as hybrid, but what does “hybrid” mean in this competitive context? If these competitors can’t natively integrate into all three of the major hyperscalers or can’t burst data to a hyperscaler public cloud in 5 minutes, is it even a hybrid cloud? These competitors might present options, but those options don't offer a hybrid cloud standard like FlexPod XCS

FlexPod logo

FlexPod – A Cisco and NetApp Solution

The best predictor of success for FlexPod is happy customers. Worldwide, FlexPod has happy customers running hybrid workloads worldwide.

“It is great seeing Cisco and NetApp launching FlexPod XCS together in this hybrid cloud era,” said Jeffrey den Oudsten, Chief Technology Officer at Conscia Netherlands. “Standardization on FlexPod XCS brings rich technologies and huge benefits for us and our customers in various ways, with ability to deliver one point for billing, ordering, support and validated designs. Conscia is determined to facilitate the best hybrid cloud infrastructure for its customers, and together with Cisco and NetApp, we have the best-in-class technology partners helping us to deliver on that promise.”

Cisco is voicing its backing, and so are partners on FlexPod XCS with executive, engineering, and go-to-market support. Please take a look at this wonderful video where, Siva, Sivakumar (Vice President, Cisco Computing and Solutions Product Management) and Mike Arterbury (VP/GM Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure & OEM Solutions) introduce the extensive customer benefits of FlexPod XCS. Also, Cisco and NetApp partners are voicing their strong for FlexPod XCS.

“For years, FlexPod has been helping Presidio customers increase app performance, save software Capex, and decrease unplanned downtime incidents,” said Raphael, Meyerowitz, Engineering VP at Presidio. “With FlexPod XCS, NetApp and Cisco are providing more flexibility, accessibility and scalability to our customers to deliver a seamless hybrid cloud experience.”

Today, FlexPod is building on its standardized, leading position in edge and on-premises workloads and extending the FlexPod standard to the hybrid cloud with FlexPod XCS. It’s powering modern and enterprise applications with the latest platform innovations, as shown in the following diagram.

hybrid cloud flow chart

It seems that FlexPod XCS has proven automation in the hybrid cloud, whereas others have talked about “hybrid cloud” with no proof. A quick example of where the FlexPod hybrid cloud standard verifies performance and stability of a hybrid workload is this newly released reference architecture. This Cisco Validated Design or reference architecture provides the deployment details for disaster recovery of on-premises FlexPod XCS to NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP by using Cisco Intersight services. It automates and enables secure transport and data protection of FlexPod XCS from an on-premises instance to a Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance in AWS. These same Intersight automation capabilities can include any of the big-three hyperscalers. FlexPod XCS orchestrates and automates the data replication and disaster recovery solution by using Cisco services like Intersight Cloud Orchestrator and Intersight Service for HashiCorp Terraform. It’s relatively easy to replicate this same kind of automation to any Cloud Volumes ONTAP instance or to a native instance directly in a hyperscaler dashboard like Azure NetApp Files or Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP.

FlexPod XCS also benefits directly from the advantages and lineage that FlexPod has built for almost 10,000 customers:

  • One-call support for a FlexPod issue that’s root-caused—without handoff from Cisco or NetApp
  • A large, experienced partner network with an enormous depth of FlexPod expertise
  • A growing portfolio of 200+ fully tested, end-to-end data center and hybrid solutions
  • Industry-leading hybrid cloud connectivity
  • For FlexPod XCS, full-stack visibility and lifecycle management, out-of-the-box and customized automation
  • Choice of consumption models with current purchase or pay-as-you-go FlexPod-as-a-Service utility consumption or current capital expenditure model

The future is complex, the future is hybrid, and it will be built on standardized, tested, automated infrastructure. Please consider “plugging in” to the FlexPod XCS standard for all your hybrid cloud needs.

To learn more, visit:

And take a look at what our partner Cisco is saying about FlexPod XCS.

Mike Arterbury

Mike Arterbury is the VP/GM of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure & OEM Solutions at NetApp leading efforts to build cloud connected infrastructure solutions and serving customers in alternative OEM channels.  He has spent more than two decades in the information technology building and selling datacenter solutions for customers.

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