By Joel McKelvey, Solutions Marketing
Unified architecture drives value at every level of the FlexPod design.
When I think about conversations I’ve had with IT leaders, particularly those at very innovative companies, I invariably go back to the old, boring concept of unified architectures. At NetApp we know unified storage architectures well – we pioneered them – but as customers consolidate and virtualize their reasons for deploying devices (and systems) with “unified” architectures stop looking so dull. Really, unified architectures are more relevant in a virtualized and consolidated data center than they’ve ever been before. And with pre-validated consolidated infrastructure deployments like FlexPod, unified architecture becomes a dominant aspect in realizing a low TCO.
You probably know that unified architecture simplifies deployment and management but you may not have considered how it can also help improve security posture, speed runbook automation, reduce staffing requirements, and lower CapEx over time. Without unified architectures in the data center, IT departments are forced to retrain staff on new systems, have disjointed security practices, and mask underlying system inconsistencies with expensive and unnecessary management software. Midsize businesses I talk with are the ones that are really concerned about unified systems. These are more generalist IT departments with limited resources and just can’t afford to upgrade their staff or runbooks every time they have to upgrade their systems!
As these smaller IT departments increasingly adopt a consolidated infrastructure model -- like that of FlexPod -- the requirement for a unified architectural approach becomes increasingly pronounced. When buying relatively large pre-integrated units of IT infrastructure the risks associated with non-unified architectures are correspondingly large. One clear way to help reduce risk and easy management burden in such cases is to deploy a consolidated architecture that is both a unified platform itself and built on underlying unified architectural elements. FlexPod is one such unified system architecture built on underlying elements that are themselves unified architecturally.
Like I said, unified architecture is a long-standing feature of the NetApp FAS product line. Unlike other so-called unified storage systems, FAS offers a consistent operating system, consistent features, and interchangeable physical elements across the entire product range. Every member of the FAS product line, from smallest to largest, provides the features and benefits of the NetApp DataONTAP operating system. This unified design makes the NetApp FAS products the true best storage for virtualized environments. The fundamental benefits of the unified FAS line are equipment reuse, minimized training, reduced operational errors, and higher overall storage efficiency. NetApp customers have long realized these benefits.
Cisco, too, understands the power of unified architectures and interoperability. The Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) is a classic example of a technologically innovative product line that provides a unified management, staffing, and deployment strategy. And like the NetApp FAS, the Cisco UCS server system incorporates technologies that were specifically developed to enhance the deployments of virtualized applications. Cisco UCS Manager enables rapid deployment of hardware profiles that make the deployment of software virtualization platforms such as VMware vSphere far simpler and far more repeatable.
As a result of the underlying unified architectures, and due to deep mutual understanding of the benefits of unified architectures, the joint Cisco and NetApp FlexPod data center platform is also designed as a unified, consistent whole. A pre-tested and pre-validated platform that includes the best-in-breed UCS and FAS product lines, FlexPod is well known for its flexibility; Flexibility that is a result of extensive design and research. And the unified architecture is particularly evident in the today's announcement of a FlexPod solution based on Cisco UCS C-series rack-mount servers and the NetApp FAS 2240 HA storage.
FlexPod scales from small to very large, both out and up. Yet, FlexPod deployments of any size include the same underlying elements (UCS and FAS), the same basic standards-based technologies, and the same management and operational frameworks. An IT professional trained on the largest of the FlexPods can easily understand and operate the smallest – and the reverse is also true. From what IT executives tell me this boring old concept of “unified architecture” isn’t sounding so boring any more.
Want to learn more about the unified cloud-ready FlexPod architecture? Check out http://www.netapp.com/flexpod -- you’ll find details on an entry-level FlexPod solution that particularly meets the needs of midsize and distributed enterprise IT.