Breaking Through The Cloud

12 Posts authored by: kerman

For those of you attending the Interop event in Las Vegas this week, make sure and attend the  "The Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem" session on April 2nd that NetApp executive Phil Brotherton will participate in with fellow executives from Verizon, Oracle and Cloudera.


Event Details:


Panel Title: The Enterprise Cloud Ecosystem - Presented by Verizon

Panel Participants: John Considine, Chief Technology Officer (moderator) Verizon Terremark; Phil Brotherton, Vice President, Cloud Solutions Group, NetApp; Amr Awadallah, Chief Technology Officer, Cloudera; Joseph Rayman, Vice President, Engineered Systems, Oracle

Date/Location:  Interop, Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 2: 4 – 4:45 pm

Panel Format: Moderated Q&A

                Intro – 8 minutes

                Moderated panel discussion – 25 minutes

                Audience questions – 10 minutes

                Final wrap up – 2 minutes

Location: Mandalay Bay I Roomm


Background on the panel: Enterprises are continuing to embrace the cloud – finding both operational and cost benefits. However, there is a lack of enterprise-grade, cloud-based technologies that will support the workloads enterprises have efficiently and securely. And this is holding back cloud adoption for many organizations. This panel session will discuss how the enterprise cloud is being built and the infrastructure and services that are required for the promise of the cloud to become a reality at enterprise scale.


Also, read Phil's blog on this related topic called  Think Strategic When Picking Hybrid Cloud Partners.


It’s a Mobile World After All

Posted by kerman Mar 31, 2014

by Ray Mar, Citrix Sales Enablement Manager, NetApp


Can’t believe a year has almost gone by since I was at my first Citrix Synergy. The great energy and excitement was certainly felt all through the event from the keynote to the expo hall to meeting great folks along the way. I can’t wait to attend this year’s Synergy 2014.


Also join NetApp, a Platinum sponsor of Synergy, from May 6-8 at the Anaheim Convention Center. We’ve planned an exciting experience with opportunities for you to meet and mingle with our executives, technical experts, and customers along with our strategic partners, Citrix and Cisco.


There’s no denying it, but mobile workstyle is here to stay. We all want to be able to access our data anywhere, at anytime on any device. Come learn how you can accelerate business success with proven and efficient NetApp® flash storage and Citrix mobile workspace solutions to meet your organization’s mobility needs. Here are some of the exciting things you'll get to experience:


See the Latest Technologies


Come by Booth 201 to learn about the latest NetApp offerings with Citrix through demos and mini-theater presentations on Citrix XenDesktop, ShareFile, and CloudPlatform with NetApp as the on-premises storage platform.


Full schedule of all the mini-theater presentations will be available soon…so check back.


Hear from Our Customers and Experts


This year we have some great NetApp sessions that await you. Here are the details of all our sessions:


Accelerating Business Value with Citrix & NetApp Customer Panel

Customers looking to deploy mobility solutions want to see a rapid return on their investment. In this panel discussion, hear real life customers who have successfully deployed and now enjoy the benefits of their Citrix environments from XenDesktop to ShareFile running on NetApp storage.


Tuesday, May 6th

2:00PM - 2:45PM


Building a Standardized Cloud Architecture and Self-service Portal with Ease

This session will describe how to simplify provisioning, monitoring and management of virtual desktops and applications in the cloud with a secure, multi-tenant datacenter. Learn how organizations have deployed a cloud-based desktop virtualization solution to thousands of users with a combined solution from Citrix, NetApp and Cisco. The benefits include simplified operations, orchestration of management tasks, scalability to thousands of devices and guaranteed quality of service.


Wednesday, May 7th 

4:30PM – 5:15PM


Architecting XenDesktop Solutions with NetApp

This session will give you the tools to successfully deploy scalable Citrix XenDesktop solutions with NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP and E Series Flash Arrays. Topics will include storage and software configuration best practices, performance testing results and utilization of the NetApp Data ONTAP PowerShell Toolkit to speed provisioning and management.


Thursday, May 8th 

9:30AM – 10:15AM


Empower Enterprises to Choose How Data is Accessed, Shared, Stored and Protected

IT must embrace mobility to meet the demands of a distributed workforce. Easy collaboration and the ability to securely access and share data are essential. Learn how Citrix ShareFile with NetApp storage solutions helps organizations meet these requirements by delivering an enterprise-ready, follow-me-data solution. This session will also explore how a customer can utilize ShareFile on NetApp storage across multiple geographies to enable mobile workspace and business continuity.


Thursday, May 8th 

4:30PM – 5:15PM


Meet Our Executives & Technical Experts


Want to learn about how to accelerate your business success? Then request a personal meeting with us at Citrix Synergy. This is a great opportunity for you to meet and discuss with NetApp executives and technical experts about your requirements to enable mobile workspace within your organization.


To request a meeting, go here.



Social Media at Citrix Synergy 2014

What better way to keep up with conversation throughout the week than by following those at the event? We’ll provide a list of NetApp staff and partners that will be tweeting and/or blogging live from Synergy. And of course, don't forget to join the conversation and follow along on Twitter using the #NetAppSynergy hashtag.


Follow @NetApp on Twitter, like us on Facebook and watch us on YouTube to keep up with everything NetApp.


Let us know what you are most looking forward to at Citrix Synergy 2014?


We look forward to experiencing this exciting world of mobility with you soon!



By Michael Harding and Calvin Nieh





If someone called FlexPod a star, we’d assume it was because of the recent #1 Worldwide Integrated Infrastructure ranking by IDC, or for the Best of TechEd win for the Microsoft Private Cloud solution, or just because of all the attention it’s getting after 3 successful years in the Converged Infrastructure business.  But it turns out the latest ‘star’ distinction is thanks to the readers of Windows IT Pro.

Today, the FlexPod Datacenter solution was given the Silver Award for Best Hardware Appliance and NetApp FAS Storage was given the Gold Award for Best Hardware Storage!


These Windows IT Pro Community Choice awards are especially well-received by the NetApp and FlexPod teams, as it’s the result of a reader-driven product-nomination process.  The Windows IT Pro     community first nominates, then votes for the best products of the year, and thus these wins reflect a widespread, organic interest in converged infrastructure offerings, FlexPod specifically, and NetApp FAS storage.


NetApp and FlexPod in the Microsoft Community

FlexPod has been part of  a strong contribution by NetApp and Cisco to the Microsoft market, with heavy investment in our integration with Microsoft technology, reflected in a number of related solutions and products such as the Microsoft Private Cloud, NetApp OnCommand Plug-in for Microsoft, SnapManager for Hyper-V and the Data ONTAP Powershell Toolkit.  This work has been rewarded by this community and Microsoft, including the very flattering recognition of NetApp as Microsoft’s 2013 Server Platform Partner of the Year as well as Microsoft’s 2012 Private Cloud Partner of the Year.

Along with these accolades, is a growing list of customers who are seeing the benefits of Microsoft private cloud and virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V on FlexPod.  They include a range of companies, large and small, spanning the globe, such as: ActioNet, ING Direct, King County, and Toyota Tsucho.


Build your Microsoft Cloud on FlexPod

With new validated designs including one just published – FlexPod Datacenter for Microsoft Private Cloud – FlexPod makes ideal infrastructure for Microsoft environments.  FlexPod as the leading converged infrastructure lets you quickly and confidently deploy your shared IT platform.  And because it’s FlexPod, you’ll get the flexibility and efficiency that makes it easier to work with, and lower cost, than the alternatives.


Learn more about FlexPod and what makes it a star by visiting the FlexPod web page,

By Mark Jobson, Ajubeo VP of Marketing


Since its inception, the vision of the Virtual Desktop has promised significant benefits to IT departments by way of operational efficiency gains, data loss prevention, and Total Cost of Operation (TCO) reduction amongst others.


So why has it taken so long for the market to hit its stride?


There have been concerns to date about the viability of cloud-based virtual desktops (DaaS) that have inhibited market growth. Was it secure enough? Would the offering be reliable enough to sustain and enhance worker productivity? Would the performance really be comparable to the traditional workstation? Would it cause a prohibitive increase in network costs?


Fortunately, the rapid pace of adoption for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) has calmed the security concerns for most companies - SMBs to enterprise.  If the CIA can go IaaS, most companies figure they can as well.  And with virtual desktop management enablers such as Desktone providing real security in a multi-tenant delivery model for CSPs, the concerns have been properly addressed form a software perspective as well.  Desktone has worked with VMware and storage providers such as NetApp to ensure maximum integration with vSuite, VMware View/Horizon, FlexClone, OnCommand, Flash Cache and Clustered ONTAP to reduce latency and potential security holes.


With the security barrier-to-entry out of the way, IT executives are free to explore the performance and TCO reality of the virtual desktop and decide for themselves whether it is as advertised.


And just in time.


The rapid shift toward mobility and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has made the benefits of DaaS that much more enticing.  Every employee workstation including smart phones and tablets, thin and zero clients, and laptops and desktops – is powered by central, corporate-controlled cloud infrastructure.  When employees hit ‘save’ on their Excel financial model, it saves to cloud storage controlled by IT, not the personal workstation. It is also backed-up in the cloud for easy restoration. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) teams can rest easy knowing their IP is no longer at the risk of a disgruntled employee making a bad decision in the heat of the moment.


But it still has to work. And work well.


There is probably no more visible IT service delivery than desktop support. Every employee interfaces with it at some point. Some, more taxing employees, seem to interface with it multiple times per day.  So, if IT decides to move its employees to a virtual desktop model and it doesn’t work, productivity grinds to a halt and all eyes turn to the virtual desktop decision maker..


This is where high-performance cloud infrastructure providers like Ajubeo come into play.


Ajubeo starts with a focus on reliability - a 100% uptime track record for its entire IaaS cloud platform, high-availability architecture for its Business Desktop (shared compute), Enterprise Desktop (private compute), and Graphics Desktop (private compute and dedicated NVIDIA graphics processors), Clustered Data ONTAPP 8.2 for its 100% NetApp storage offering, maximum uptime datacenters for every cloud hub deployment, and redundant, best-of-breed technology at every stack position including carrier-grade networking gear and the world’s top-rated firewall in FORTINET.


Ajubeo then focuses on performance to ensure a sub-millisecond, ultra-low latency environment for the end-user.  Ajubeo builds its virtual desktop images on high-performance NetApp storage with the largest allowable amount of Flash Cache to deliver maximum IOPS performance.  Since the virtual desktops are native to the Ajubeo Unified Cloud Platform, file-share storage (customer chooses SATA, SAS and/or SSD) is delivered from the same platform, reducing risk and latency when compared to companies who are leveraging another vendor’s infrastructure to deliver their DaaS offering.  Ajubeo also provides the latest in Intel and NVIDIA processors to ensure maximum power for compute-intensive workloads and end-users.


The result is a virtual desktop that addresses both the availability and performance concerns of the most discerning of IT executives or end-user, even when dealing with 3D CAD models or large, HD video and graphics files.


Ajubeo selected the Desktone management platform for its unique cloud features and flexibility, as well as its ability to enable faster, more efficient customer on-boarding and management at scale.  Ajubeo works with emerging companies as well as the enterprise, so the ability to remain agile when onboarding customer deployments that can exceed 20,000 desktops is critical to business operations.


As for the cost barrier, according to Tom Whitcomb, Ajubeo Co-Founder and Colorado CIO of the Year, the offering reduces desktop TCO by 42% or more when compared to the traditional workstation model.


Case closed.


For those looking to experience the Ajubeo/Desktone Virtual Desktop combination in action, there will be live, interactive demos by Ajubeo in the NetApp booth at VMworld from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM on Monday, August 26th


You may also request a demo directly from Ajubeo at

By Pamela Kerman, Senior Virtualization and Cloud Solutions Portfolio Marketing Manager


I am preparing for my first born to enter grad school in a foreign country. For those of you who have ever lived abroad or worked abroad , you know how complicated this can be.  First of all, it is costly to pay for tuition, international flights, and living expenses. Second of all, it’s a complex venture.  There are so many things to think about – getting a student visa, finding a place to live, opening up a bank account, exchanging currency, and general  foreign bureaucracies. There are repeated inefficiencies when it comes to dealing with time differences, making it difficult to get a “live” person on the phone to answer our countless questions. When we do reach someone, the language barriers make communication frustrating.


These challenges aren’t so different from what you as a customer face in the technology industry.  There are high costs associated with purchasing technology, and then additional costs for maintaining that technology.  Complexity arises when you mix and match disparate computing, networking and storage components from multiple vendors in your data center.  Finally, you experience great inefficiencies in terms of space, time and general resources.  When it comes to the public sector, that list of challenges grows considerably due to the number of statutory, regulatory, and compliance mandates to which your organization must adhere.  I should also mention that security issues and challenges with managing vast amounts of data are part of this list. 


NetApp helps you address these challenges head on with a selection of virtualization and cloud solutions that are efficient, scalable, and agile to accelerate business response.  Read how NetApp helped three of our public sector customers respond to these challenging questions: How can my institution maintain a competitive edge? How  can my organization continue to attract and retain students?  How do we provide science education for over 1 million students a year?  How do I achieve growth and sustainability for my city’s infrastructure?  

University of Tennessee Knoxville Boosts Competitive Edge with Citrix Virtualization on FlexPod
One of the oldest universities in the U.S., the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville, attracts 28,000 students per year who need anywhere, anytime access to university resources.  The university had the challenge of paring down budgets, while enhancing technology to accommodate everything for the latest technologies – cloud-based computing, high quality streaming video, high-end research software and more. In addition to student requirements, the teaching staff also needed access to these resources. “Our executives loved the simplicity and power of the integrated stack in FlexPod. And for IT, the prevalidated architecture with prescriptive sizing and design guides reduced our risk.” Wojciech Biernacki, IT Systems Administrator

University of Tennessee Knoxville Boosts Competitive Edge with Citrix Virtualization on FlexPod


Science Museum of Minnesota Achieves 80% Reduction in Storage Requirements to Support 1M Visitors Annually
The Science Museum of Minnesota leveraged the expertise from Northland Systems to deploy and configure the new solution. VMware vSphere built on FlexPod delivers virtualized mission-critical applications for the museum, including the Tessitura CRM system, to accommodate over 1 million visitors per year.   “The single, unified architecture of VMware vSphere built on FlexPod has eliminated our previous storage management, performance, and scalability challenges. We’re almost 100% virtualized now, which simplifies management while acquisition and operational cost savings continue to grow.” -- Joel Miles, Director of IT, Science Museum of Minnesota
Science Museum of Minnesota


Melrose reduces costs by 40% annually
Melrose, a small city near Boston made a creative investment in a re-imaged information infrastructure for a cloud environment based enabled by a FlexPod deployment.  The deployment not only improved services and cut IT costs by a third, but it also supported 18 sites with regionalized services to more than 300 municipalities.  According to Jorge Pazos, CIO of the City of Melrose, “This will enable us to speed the delivery of IT services, generate new revenue streams, and reinvest profit in programs for the citizens of Massachusetts.”

City of Melrose



This is the first of a series of four industry blogs that will be written on how NetApp virtualization and cloud solutions address customer challenges for a specific industry. 


To learn more about the NetApp Virtualization and Cloud Solutions portfolio, visit
NetApp Virtualization and Cloud Solutions Portfolio

By Pamela Kerman, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, Virtualization and Cloud


What is your 2013 new year’s resolution? My resolution is to look for ways to become more efficient, so that I can spend more time on personal goals.


I think it’s safe to say that most of us want to become more efficient in everything we do.  When it comes to business, don’t you want your data center to be as flexible and efficient as possible?  When you create better efficiencies, then you can spend less time managing the day-to-day operations, and more time focusing on innovation.



ESG recently published a whitepaper titled “FlexPod: The Gateway to Your Private Cloud.”  The whitepaper outlines the following key points:


  • Two closely linked factors drive IT purchasing decisions: economics and efficiency. Customers are ultimately looking for a way to create better integration between components in their data center, streamline processes and drive down costs.  Technology has progressed over time to meet these customer challenges, initially through server virtualization, then through storage and desktop infrastructure virtualization. Today, customers are rapidly adopting converged infrastructure platforms to address their IT and business needs.  

  • NetApp, in conjunction with Cisco, developed FlexPod, a converged infrastructure platform to help customers create a more agile data infrastructure that grows with changing business requirements. The FlexPod platform combines NetApp FAS storage, OnCommand, OnTAP components with the Cisco UCS servers, UCS server management and Nexus network management components to create coordinated pool-based and policy-driven resources. These coordinated components have open APIs for easy integration with a broad range of software management tools.

  • Customers can select from a combination of packaged products and custom software packages. There are three main methods of development: 1)Custom: enables businesses to design software that best fits their needs. Typically requires professional services engagemen 2) Semi-custom: management combines turnkey and custom solutions. 3)Turnkey: organizations seeking to rapidly build a private cloud.  NetApp and Cisco have validated management partners -  Cloupia, CA Technologies and Gale that have gone through a thorough validation process.  Their solutions have  been pretested,  validated, and integrated for quick and safe deployment on the FlexPod platform.


  • ESG interviewed an international travel insurance company that deployed a FlexPod platform in conjunction with a software management solution to create their own gateway to a private cloud. As a result of the deployment, the company realized a reduction in downtime and significantly improved their IT efficiencies. A spokesperson for the company anticipates a 100% ROI in just a few months based on the implementation.The case study is a great example of how FlexPod with its unique integrated computing platform meets market demands and solves IT's top reported priorities.



Read more about this case study and other details on creating a more efficient cloud infrastructure in the ESG whitepaper “FlexPod: The Gateway to Your Private Cloud.”

By Pamela Kerman, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod



Today, we are awaiting the results of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.  This year’s campaign has been highly competitive, but ultimately the American people will select the best candidate to represent them as the next President of the United States.


The technology industry has some similar parallels in that customers look at all of their choices, and then they select the best solution to meet their  needs. Over 1600 customers have selected and deployed one or more FlexPod solutions to address their technology challenges since November 9, 2010. 


10713 NA FlexPod 2nd anniversary.jpg








During the past year, the FlexPod solution portfolio expanded with new and refreshed configurations that reach market segments across mission-critical, private cloud and distributed environments:




Customers who deployed FlexPod solutions saw significant business advantage in the areas of flexibility, data center efficiency and lower risk, with real-world results like these:




For more information, go to:



By Pamela Kerman, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod  - NetApp


On Wednesday, October 10th, NetApp and Cisco announced an update to the VMware vSphere on FlexPod solution. The solution now includes an optional configuration with Data ONTAP 8 in Cluster-Mode. This does not replace the current 7-mode configuration, but instead expands customer options.


VMware vSphere on FlexPod operating in Data ONTAP 8 in Cluster-Mode is targeted at medium to large enterprise data centers. The additional Cluster-Mode features help customers build an agile data infrastructure to drive growth by adding nodes to their storage cluster by creating large storage pools that span storage devices and can scale almost infinitely. The storage pool resources can be dynamically allocated and securely isolated to support multi-tenancy. NetApp storage clustering also enables nondisruptive data migration of hundreds of virtual machines at a time to facilitate load balancing, system maintenance and device upgrades without interrupting the running applications.




The VMware vSphere on FlexPod Solution operating in Data ONTAP 8 in Cluster-Mode provides these key benefits:

  • Performance-matched stack: Simplifies and accelerates data center transformation with right-sized prevalidated configurations for consistent deployments that eliminate guesswork.
  • Highly scalable architecture. Scales up within each architectural component or out to meet today’s requirements and future growth—from basic virtualization through IT as a service—on a single platform, including the ability to add storage nodes and massively expand single FlexPod storage capacity.
  • Flexible IT for any cloud environment. Simultaneously supports a variety of mixed application workloads and can be optimized for virtual desktop or server infrastructures, secure multi-tenancy, and private or public cloud environments.
  • Adaptable, always-on architecture. Provides high-availability redundancy at server, network, and storage layers to absorb failures without affecting users, and improves service levels by automatically assigning data to optimal storage tiers.
  • Data center efficiency. End-to-end virtualization delivers higher consolidation, boosts utilization across all layers, and allows resource pools, including an entire storage cluster, to be managed as a single dynamic IT asset.
  • Transparent data mobility. Eliminate planned downtime with nondisruptive data migration for load balancing, maintenance and technology refreshes.
  • Investment protection. Standardized and unified platform leverages your existing infrastructure and scales to meet the largest data center requirements without disruption or future architectural changes.
  • Centralized, open management. Tight integration and open APIs reduce administrative cost and complexity by enabling server, network, and storage layers to be managed from a single vCenter console or with existing validated third-party orchestration solutions.


To learn more about the VMware vSphere on FlexPod solution operating in Data ONTAP 8 in Cluster-Mode, visit





By Pamela Kerman, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod


NetApp celebrated its eighth annual Innovation Awards with customers who showed innovative ways of achieving remarkable results. The winners were announced at the Tech Museum in San Jose on June 19th.  One of those remarkable customers was a customer named ING DIRECT, who deployed a "Bank-in-a-Box" based on the FlexPod® data center platform with Microsoft Private Cloud Solution.


ING DIRECT was one of the winners chosen from a pool of over 200 nominations from all geographies, representing a wide range of industries, and each highlighting new and innovative ways to impact business. The winners were determined by a panel of third-party judges from around the globe, whcih included:


–     Deni Connor, Principal Analyst, Storage Strategies NOW & Contributing Editor, InformationWeek

–     Carsten Knop, Editor, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)

–     Ben Woo, Storage Industry Analyst

–     Vijay Ramachandran, Editor-in-Chief, IDG Media India Pvt. Ltd. (India)


NetApp Innovation Winners are selected based on these categories:

Efficiency Innovation

Efficiency innovators are at the forefront of virtualizing their data centers when using a NetApp® shared infrastructure. They are changing the economics of IT within their organizations—minimizing the time, resources, and effort of running IT services—and freeing up those resources to be deployed in other parts of the business. Because of these efforts, these companies are using quantifiably less budget for equipment, people, power, space, and capacity—with the end benefits of decreasing complexities and increasing operational efficiency.


Flexibility Innovation

Flexibility innovators have created dynamic technology infrastructures that rapidly respond to changing business requirements, thereby enabling technology to scale or contract to drive measurable business value. This agility has allowed these organizations to capitalize on opportunities by expanding into new markets, managing change, developing new products, mitigating risk, and so on in quantifiable ways.


Visionary Innovation

Visionary Leadership highlights the people who have broken the mold, challenged the status quo, and/or overcome obstacles to move their businesses forward and position themselves more competitively in the marketplace. These visionaries are at the forefront of using technology as a tool for innovation within their organizations and would be seen by people inside and outside the company as true innovators.

ING DIRECT won in the category of Efficiency Innovation.  This is ING DIRECT's success story leveraging FlexPod with MS Private Cloud:

ING DIRECT is the world’s leading direct savings bank and is wholly owned by the global ING Group. In 1999, the bank pioneered branchless banking in Australia, and it now has more than 1.5 million customers with $26 billion in deposits and $38 billion in mortgages. The bank has an in-house IT team of 150 employees, including 49 developers and 18 testers, who manage all of the bank’s software and application development.


•      Provisioning a single copy of the bank’s environment for testing took eight people three months, which severely limited the number of concurrent projects and changes that could be managed.

•      The in-house development team needed a faster way to create new copies of the bank environment to accelerate time to market for development of new products and services.


•      Bank-in-a-Box, which is built on the FlexPod® data center platform with Microsoft® Private Cloud

•      Highly scalable data center solution that tightly integrates Cisco® Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus® switching, NetApp® FAS storage system, Windows Server® 2008 Hyper-V, and Microsoft System Center 2007 to rapidly provision new environments and accelerate testing of new offerings

Key business benefits for ING DIRECT include:

•      “Copies” of the bank environment are available to developers in 10 minutes versus 12 weeks, dramatically accelerating time to market for new products and services.

•      Can provision copies of the bank quickly and efficiently, amplifying available storage by 4,000%.

•      NetApp FlexClone® enables multiple copies of the bank to be created quickly and occupy negligible space on the storage array.

•      NetApp Snapshot and deduplication save an additional 20% of storage.


Our staff can now provision complete environments in minutes, not months, so we can test new ideas very rapidly. It’s given us a competitive edge.” - Andrew Henderson - CIO, ING DIRECT Australia


For more information on ING DIRECT's deployment of FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud, view the case study here: or watch the video case study here:

By Pamela Kerman, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod


On June 26th, Cisco and NetApp announced that Comstor would join the FlexPod team as a distributor for the EMEA market. Comstor, a business unit of the Weston Group signed a new agreement, which will enable channel partners to deliver more efficient, robust, and customized data center offerings based on FlexPod. Comstor has been a long term partner with Cisco, and now this relationship is being extended to NetApp.

The new distributor contract with Comstor is another sign of the strong traction that FlexPod has made in the marketplace since its inception in November of 2010. NetApp and Cisco recently disclosed that FlexPod has attracted over 1,050 customers around the globe. A significant part of this business growth stems from EMEA. It became apparent to Cisco and NetApp that a local European distributor was needed to keep both our channel partners and our customers satisfied.

As a well-established distributor in EMEA, Comstor will bring their expertise to help partners with pre-sales support, consolidated quoting, single-order capability, assembly and testing, and shipping and tracking. Comstor’s successful track record as a market-leading distributor, along with FlexPod’s success as a converged infrastructure leader is a winning model for cloud deployments.

For more information about the new Comstor contract, visit

By Pamela Kerman, Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod



I recently read a New York Times article which stated that the federal national debt has bumped against the debt limit or debt ceiling. Just as national debt poses a serious challenge for the US, technology debt can have serious consequences on your IT infrastructure. 

Bart Falzarano, Chief Information Security Officer, from the Walz Group discussed the topic of technology debt with me at Cisco Live a couple of weeks ago.  Falzarano explained how his company leveraged a FlexPod data center solution to significantly reduce technology debt associated with securing, operating, and managing their IT infrastructure.


Here is an excerpt from my interview with Falzarano…..


Question:  Can you frame the challenge that you refer to as “technology debt”?   Why did you choose FlexPod to address this challenge?

Answer:  First of all, when I refer to technology debt, I mean the effort that it takes to secure, operate, maintain and support the technology.  When we were dealing with past technology servers and switches that meant dealing with disparate protocols like Ethernet, HBA and decentralized systems management that didn’t work together in the data center. In other words, some of these management tools were only relevant to one particular system, not across multiple systems. So it took a lot of effort to manage multiple systems and storage. We were using HP technology for both the servers and the storage.  So the servers were mainly from the blade servers with some rackmount servers as well.  On the storage side, we were leveraging their modular array storage – MSA60s and MSA30s, which did not come with snapshot capabilities. Each MSA60 had to be independently managed, so you had multiple HP storage systems– that had decentralized management without virtualization efficiencies. In addition, there were some applications that we could not virtualize because of performance denegation from either memory bound or CPU bound problems in the servers.  For some applications, we could only reach a density of four virtual machines to one hypervisor. So we had very low virtualization efficiencies, combined with hardware problems and failures in both array controllers and system boards, which occurred early on. We had a very large HP ProLiant DL580 server with two nodes, high availability, and an SQL database.  One of the nodes degraded when the system was only three months old. This happened on the weekend and we went through the troubleshooting exercise. Technology debt has to do with support as well. To resolve the issue, we were told to take out three out of the four processors, remove the odd number of memory banks, and then boot the system up after that. We had to take out CPUs and change the memory configuration to get it back up and running.  Even after going through this process, we could not return to service as a database because it required higher memory and additional CPU sockets.  The long story short is that the RTO was 12 hours for us.  With the FlexPod technology, we can accomplish the same scenario with recovery in four minutes.  So just by leveraging the service profile templates that the FlexPod technology offers, we were able to quickly move the application between those physical resource pools that have complete memory storage. As a result, we had a very quick recovery time, which is a multiplier of efficiency. Technology debt means services across the board.  It’s the effort required to operate, support, secure, and maintain your technology properly.


Question:  Can you talk a little bit more about the management tools you use to optimize your FlexPod?

Answer: I was evaluating cloud solutions for about a year to do due diligence. After evaluating several management tools, I evaluated the fourth Cloud management tool which came from Cloupia. That was actually at Cisco Live last year in the NetApp booth. I was impressed with the interface. I think that an additional item that stood out was that it was a FlexPod validated solution, which meant that it was a huge differentiation from the other tools that I evaluated. When it comes to proof-of-a-concepts (POC), we found that the competitors couldn’t put their cloud management tools in the hands of our IT team.  So how could we evaluate these cloud management capabilities like orchestration, self-service provisioning, showback and chargeback models? We could only do that through a POC webinar where they (the competitive cloud management vendors) set up a somewhat staged environment staged.  The efforts to install a cloud management tool concerned us because when we have to ensure business continuity. If the team isn’t trained on a cloud management tool, it takes a long time to provision that tool with a professional services engagement.


The incumbent tool that we were working with didn’t provision correctly.  We had to escalate to the company.  We were told that it would require two weeks of training with a cost of $25,000, and the licensing capabilities would need to be extended. It was going to be very cost prohibitive for us.  Since Cloupia was a FlexPod validated solution, it enabled us to do a POC by download through the virtual machine and set up the machine on our network. In addition, we created service accounts so that Cloupia could use virtual center APIs to inventory compute processing through the UCS API and the storage processing through the ONTAP API.  In less than an hour and half, the team showed a dashboard with the consumption, inventory of virtual machines, inventory of storage, infrastructure, and listed the service profiles that were assigned to the server (by leveraging the Cisco xlm capabilities). 

For the remainder of the 6 hour POC, the Walz Group team was able to set up cloning of virtual machines and quickly provision them. We were able to leverage the basics for self-service provisioning machines, which made those resources in the virtual machines consumable by an end user through a self-portal interface.  It made it possible for us to get through the whole process in such a short time. The team needed an interactive tool for cloud management that they could put in their hands.


Question: When it comes to FlexPod, we always talk about two different sets of management tools – Infrastructure and orchestration management tools? Can you comment on how the Walz Group uses both?

Answer:  Cloupia is really tying together the Cisco UCS compute and the NetApp ONTAP storage APIs. If it’s storage, it means provisioning volumes, qtrees, LUNS and more. It means integrating compute and storage components much more effectively.  Before we implemented our FlexPod, the team was leveraging the elemental tools independently. We found that we could be more effective by leveraging these tasks and assembling them into workflows, and then executing the workflows directly.  Another key feature was the dashboard that was used to monitor and collect data points from three different places. It’s a lot more difficult to collect data from independent points if you don’t have showback features for internal purposes and chargeback features for external purposes. 


FlexPod delivered multipliers of efficiency in securing, operating, monitoring and reporting, QA integration and more features. FlexPod by itself delivered multipliers of efficiency.  When you leverage a tool like Cloupia, you are able to arrive at even additional efficiencies with consistent management.   IT managers now have templates and established workloads by Cloupia for QA purposes.  Walz has an IT team of two to manage the IT footprint at the company.  They are the only ones with hands on access to FlexPod and the Cloupia tools.  In the past, there was a team of six who had to troubleshoot hardware issues because of the amount of technology debt that we were dealing with.  Where did those other four go?  What we are finding is that IT is no longer inhibiting our business, but instead, IT is becoming an enabler of our business. Those other four people have actually found themselves troubleshooting further up the stack, which means looking at the internal applications of Walz. They are looking at how the application behave, data storage, data movement to prevent the application from running out data storage space, and other types of ports that the application is communicating with. We’ve shifted our IT resources to focus on our business applications and services. 


Question:  Can you talk a little bit about the technology and business direction that the Walz Group is moving in?

Answer: Right now – our applications are active/passive. We are looking to move toward a more active/active model.  That’s where we want to go with our business.  How do we leverage those resources more effectively?  We want to leverage FlexPod for use as IT as a service. 

I’ve mentioned the improvements in return time objectives, which FlexPod has already delivered in terms of resiliency in seconds versus minutes.  In a local data center, we need to switch our applications quickly and extend resources across data centers geographically.  We’ve been doing some testing across data centers leveraging an active /passive model, and we are finding much lower recovery times.  Walz deals with 35 of the Fortune’s top large mortgage and financial firms that oversee informational security and FCC.  Many of the firms have come into audit the Walz Group’s security requirements, and we have demonstrated how FlexPod can meet those requirements.  We are able to show them that we can quickly switch applications across data centers with better resiliency to create business continuity for efficiently keeping their business operations and processes running.


Question:  Tell me a little bit about your security challenges with trying to manage your IT infrastructure?

Answer: We have made some of the improvements with FlexPod in terms of security of physical resources.  If client “a” and client “b” have a VLan demarcation circuit, the FlexPod framework has secure multi-tenancy capabilities. So when a client requests a specific secure multi-tenancy resource, we can build that for them.  And when you leverage Cloupia, you can set up secure multi-tenancy capabilities with a sequence of events for a particular build.  You have a centralized log-in for your data center for sharing this information with the auditors and the clients. We can show them how their specific information is built out and segregated from the other environments.


Question:  How do you plan to use FlexPod in the future?

Answer:  Our plans are to create a “multipliers of efficiency” technology standardized model.  In the past, we’ve had systems that failed prematurely. We are looking at FlexPod with its natural flexible sizing capabilities and its mobility feature to switch corporate applications quickly between different physical resource pools of compute, storage and memory as needed. Even if our corporate applications go down, then the other applications won’t. Our end goal is to create higher availability for our corporate applications and our business services.  We want to create more effective management of our technology equipment, which means lowering our RTO even more. It’s leveraging NetApp SnapMirror for the data replication capabilities across the data center to achieve this goal.


Our goal is to keep applications at higher availability. We have a mixture of generation servers that we need to switch from one application to another for maintenance purposes.   Nexus makes it possible to perform updates without any down time due to its mobility features.   We can perform maintenance and move application back to the region after maintenance is performed without disruption to the business. We have seen unplanned downtime eliminated, and unplanned downtime greatly reduced.  We use to have four to 1 ratio of virtual machines to hypervisor, now we have at least a 15 to 1 ratio, and -- in some cases a 40:1 ratio of virtual machines to a single ESX hypervisor.  This resulted in a rack reduction of greater than 50%.   When we moved away from extensive HP cabinets, we reduced the number of racks that we used because of the multipliers of efficiency and high virtualization capabilities with FlexPod.

On the first day  of Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego, I sat down with Tony Paikeday, a Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager and one of Cisco’s gurus in the area of Desktop Virtualization and Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI).

By Pamela Kerman, NetApp Sr. Solutions Marketing Manager, FlexPod


Question: Tony, VXI was announced about 18 months ago.  How has VXI  evolved  over time?

Answer: We’ve seen a really good reaction to VXI in the marketplace.  Cisco, along with our partners like NetApp, entered a marketplace that was already familiar with VDI.  VDI has been out there for a long time.  We’ve heard from customers and partners about the specific challenges that prevented VDI from hitting prime time.  These challenges include managing the complexity of a solution, trying to take the guesswork out of deploying the right infrastructure, and trying to figure out how to manage the whole user experience since organizations depend so much on enterprise grade collaboration tools and need these to work in a unified manner with desktop virtualization. Certainly, the elusive ROI associated with VDI has been a challenge for many. 


Customers who’ve embraced VXI are benefitting from the scalability, simplicity, security and risk mitigation that VXI offers and enabling IT to offer greater business agility and IT control while supporting multiple devices.  VXI creates a high quality end-to-end user experience where unified communications, business video and virtual desktops are delivered in a single workspace.  We depend on all of these modes of productivity.  Imagine a day without being able to access any one of these tools, and you can see how the convergence enabled by VXI’s unified workspace is essential.I compare this kind of convergence to a time when no one ever imaged that telephony and data could be delivered via the same media.  In the past, you had to use two separate jacks in the wall for these services. VXI delivers an end-to-end system that brings these essential services together: unified communications, business video and virtual desktops delivered on the devices people choose to be productive with.  This concept really resonates with our customers.


Question: How does FlexPod(R) map to the VXI experience?

Answer:  FlexPod and VXI create a preferred infrastructure that drives quicker realization of expected ROI for desktop virtualization because we are now taking the guesswork out of choosing a rightsized infrastructure that can grow with my needs. NetApp has done a ton of work in storage for desktop virtualization, and they understand this workload very well in terms of optimizing performance for desktop virtualization. The capabilities that FlexPod brings together, makes FlexPod a natural fit as the optimized infrastructure for VXI.  The combination of NetApp and Cisco, in collaboration VMware creates a converged infrastructure grows with demand, and is sustainable from a TCO perspective. VXI leverages this foundation to deliver an uncompromised user experience with that ensures consistent, predictable application responsiveness as users are added and demand increases.  No one else offers that kind of infrastructure.


VXI is attacking the customers pain points in desktop virtualization  for a simplied, streamlined approach to  delivering and integrated, a high quality user experience in a virtualized environment.


Question: I know that VXI here at Cisco Live 2012 is very prominently integrated across the entire event.  I also know that FlexPod is powering the VXI solution.  There are several FlexPod solutions around the entire show floor – in the Cisco booth, the NOC, the NetApp booth and others.

Answer: It’s very exciting to see the prevalence and the utility that FlexPod offers, not just as an infrastructure that supports VXI workloads, but also to the whole suite of enterprise applications that run great on it. FlexPod really makes sense in combination with VXI.


We have a great demo running on FlexPod in the Cisco booth.  It shows rapid provisioning of large pools of virtualized desktop images.  The demo  shows that it takes a fraction of the time that it used to take to deploy images. I believe that it is some sort of wizard that NetApp has created (sic – it is actually the NetApp Virtual Storage Console) based on the FlexPod infrastructure.  It basically works with UCS manager and does rapid provisioning of virtual desktops.


Question:  What is the value proposition for VXI in combination with FlexPod?

Answer: Combining NetApp for storage, Cisco for compute and networking, and VMware virtualization has created a forced multiplier of continuous innovation across the architecture, driving a steady stream of capabilities and enhancements that increasingly improve on the platform’s ability to deliver the VXI foundation.


This year Cisco has continued to enhance UCS blade servers based on Intel, delivering our 3rd generation product to the marketplace. The value prop continues to get stronger and stronger. UCS has achieved unprecedented levels of desktop density on a single blade.   Customers are continuing to understand that infrastructure does matter for desktop virtualization. The  expansive memory footprint (now up to 768 GB of memory on our B200 M3), large compute  fabric  I/O capacity with 80GB per blade, and simplified, stateless operational model, are all key features of UCS. These features benefit our customers with fewer bottlenecks, better performance, and streamlined time to scale up infrastructure.  All of these benefits apply whether you have a small number of users or tens of thousands. 

Since UCS is a component with FlexPod, this means that the benefits are part of FlexPod’s unique architectural approach. As implementers of desktop virtualization grow their users, they’ll see linearly predictable performance regardless of how many users they’re supporting. 


VXI on FlexPod is an ideal solution – delivering a platform that grows with your business, taking the guesswork out of deploying an infrastructure that’s optimized for the unique demands of virtual desktops.


Interviewer’s comments:

VXI and FlexPod are a winning combination. VXI continues to gain traction as a viable solution that meets the needs of customers who want to deliver unified workspaces that combine virtual desktops, voice and video, with seamlessly scalable performance, in a simplified infrastructure approach. FlexPod continues to gain traction with over 1,050 customers worldwide and growing.


Remember to check out the University of Tennessee -  Knoxville session on Wednesday to learn more about how the University’s Virtual Desktop implementation (BRK-4381 - Wednesday 4-5 p.m., and visit the NetApp booth #826 and Cisco booth, ##2626.  For more information on FlexPod, go to





Filter Blog

By author: By date:
By tag: