Breaking Through The Cloud

6 Posts authored by: mharding

FlexPod expands its leadership with six more validated designs including an update to the award-winning Microsoft Private Cloud now with Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2, and an industry first ACI-ready solution with the Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switch. Plus we’re adding the world’s largest software company, Microsoft, to the Cooperative Support Model, and rolled out an innovative FlexPod Unified Financing program that reduces the cost of financing a FlexPod.

FlexPod-Winter-Logo.pngFlexPod Leadership in Perspective

It’s been said leaders have the willingness to confront the major anxiety in their time.  And that’s what we did with FlexPod. We reduced the cost and complexity of IT infrastructure by doing the upfront partnering, designing, testing and documentation of popular business-class solutions. FlexPod has allowed customers to reduce cost, resellers to reduce time to solution, and both have gotten a product with better performance and availability.


FlexPod being a leader in the market is also important because IT professionals need to know they are making the best investment decision for their organization’s money.  Being #1 means a solution has been vetted by more people, it’s more established in the market, and is ultimately a safer bet for companies whose business relies on its IT infrastructure.


Here are some FlexPod leadership proofpoints:

  • FlexPod has over 3,300 customers around the world, with 100% annual customer growth
  • FlexPod has over 100 public references, most captured within Success Stories in the NetApp Customer Showcase
  • FlexPod won the "Best of TechEd" award for FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud
  • FlexPod won the Windows IT Pro Silver award for Best Hardware appliance
  • FlexPod has the broadest selection of validated hypervisor-based and bare-metal designs, including VMware vSphere, Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, RedHat KVM, and Oracle VM
  • FlexPod has a leading ecosystem with validated designs with 4 of the 5 world's largest software vendors – VMware, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle – along with Citrix, Red Hat, Cloudera and Hortonworks
  • FlexPod has a growing list of over 1,000 resellers in 84 countries
  • FlexPod has leading resellers including 9 of the top 10 Federal integrators, and 13 of the 15 world's largest System Integrators
  • FlexPod delivers leading business benefits with 120% ROI and breakeven in 9 months
  • FlexPod has leading Savings with documented reductions in time, cost, equipment, space and energy, and comes with a 50% storage savings guarantee


Investing in Leading Innovation

One of FlexPod’s key differentiators is our growing library of Validated Designs, which we make freely available to customers and resellers.  Whereas the competition has “designs” that are really just 2-20 page spec sheets, we take the time to design, build out, test, document, and then enable Cooperative Support, for each of our reference architectures. An example is the 650 page guide for FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud.  So far we’re up to 54 publications with the newest ones available online for free


This quarter we’ve announced another half-dozen validations, including designs to enable Cloud and broadened support of the Cisco Nexus Switch line.  Here they are at a glance, with links to the initial publications:

  1. FlexPod Datacenter with Microsoft Private Cloud – This award winning design now has faster performance and non-disruptive operations with NetApp Data ONTAP 8.2x, ODX and SMB 3.0 support. It also achieved Microsoft Fast Track validation status.  The Deployment Guide and Design Guide published November 18th.
  2. FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix CloudPlatform powered by Apache CloudStack – A validated design incorporating Citrix’s cloud orchestration for enterprise workloads that delivers Amazon-style scale, elasticity and operational efficiency. The design guide published December 13.
  3. FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vSphere 5.1U1 – This is an update to the FlexPod core architecture adding vSphere 5.1 Update 1 along with CDOT 8.2x P4, UCS Manager 2.1 and support for new Intel Ivy Bridge microarchitecture-based UCS servers. The design guide published December 24.
  4. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Nexus 6000 Series Switches – Adds a validation for the new Nexus 6000 switch, sporting more ports and ultra-low latency. We expect this to be a popular design for customers moving to 40GbE, or a shared infrastructure that can support HPC workloads. The design guide published January 9.
  5. FlexPod Express with VMware vSphere 5.1U1 – This newest FlexPod Express design updates the state of the art Converged Infrastructure for mid-sized businesses, with validation of vSphere 5.1U1 and NetApp Clustered Data ONTAP 8.2P4.  The Implementation Guide with details on deploying a VMware vSphere environment is targeted for February 28.  A Hyper-V version is planned for next quarter.
  6. FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches – This is an industry-first converged infrastructure design that sets the stage for the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure vision. The solution uses the Cisco Nexus 9300 Top of Rack switch, which is ACI-ready for customers refreshing their infrastructure in preparation for an ACI fabric.  The Design publication is targeted for February 28.


Expanding FlexPod Leadership with New Programs

FlexPod is expanding its well-regarded Cooperative Support Model to include a truly leading partner, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company.  Cooperative Support provides simplified and streamlined support for resellers and customer, across a solution stack that includes best of breed products from multiple, independent vendors.  Adding additional partners deepens this streamlining across more of the stack and/or across workloads.  The inclusion of Microsoft does both. The Cooperative Support service now extends its coverage to a number of Microsoft offerings:  Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows Server operating system, System Center management, and Remote Desktop Services VDI; other Microsoft apps are covered as in the past through the multivendor support community agreement.  For FlexPod, Microsoft is engaged with reference architecture support readiness, joint escalation procedures as needed, and is a member of the FlexPod Cooperative Support Lab in RTP, North Carolina


FlexPod Unified Financing is a single Financing program created by NetApp and Cisco, in partnership with De Lage Landen, a worldwide leader in asset-based leasing.   It’s a combined program that allows the financing of NetApp and Cisco gear, along with third-party software and technology, vendor services, support and education, all on a single agreement. Whereas in the past a reseller or customer had to choose between either a NetApp or Cisco lease agreement, this is an alternative that removes overlap between the programs, and makes for simpler, more consistent proposals.   There is no size limit on deals, from small ticket to over US$250,000, and users can even expect a better rate from this integrated offering.  Because of increased scale efficiencies and improved residual valuation, we expect this program to deliver the lowest rates for FlexPod financing available anywhere in the world.



Winter Leadership Summary

FlexPod announces another winning season with six new validated designs including an industry-first ACI-ready design.  We added the world’s largest software company to Cooperative Support while introducing a FlexPod Unified Financing program to deliver the lowest financing rates on the planet.  Look for new executive and partner blog posts from NetApp, Cisco and Microsoft, Webpage updates, new Collateral, Sales Tools, Social media and other communications.  You can see and learn about FlexPod at upcoming events including CiscoLive! Milan and VMware PEX. FlexPod info is available on the web at with exclusive partner content available at, and a Community site for all users, partners and interested parties at  Follow us on Twitter at @mhardi01


FlexPod for the Cloud

Posted by mharding Oct 31, 2013

FlexPod-Fall-Cloud.PNGThe celebration is still resonating from the historic Red Sox World Series win, so I can understand if it’s tough to focus on another world-class win, but here it is anyway:  FlexPod is announcing enhanced Cloud capabilities and other significant program enhancements for the Fall.


FlexPod, the #1 Worldwide Integrated Infrastructure as ranked by IDC, has rolled out new designs for large multi-tenant Clouds, enterprise Business Continuity, and is enhancing the ways to automate converged infrastructure management using OpenStack and Cisco UCS Director.  And for the first time since program inception, FlexPod has added a new partner to its Cooperative Support program: Citrix.

With FlexPod, customers see faster time to solution and lower total cost of IT.  Here is the drill-down on the Fall release:


Two New Validated Designs

  • FlexPod Datacenter with Cisco Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 2.3 is an update to a Cisco network architecture that enables Cloud management for Service Provider and Enterprise data centers. The validated design guide includes how to deploy a FlexPod for this environment, and a follow-on Implementation guide will detail how to use NetApp Workflow Automation for automated management.
  • FlexPod Datacenter with NetApp MetroCluster software provides validated multisite continuous availability for FlexPod.  With most customers using FlexPod as a shared IT platform for business critical applications, this MetroCluster software validation provides important protection against unplanned downtime, providing disaster recovery to keep key applications running and ensure zero data loss. 


New Program Enhancements

  • Citrix joins FlexPod Cooperative Support – FlexPod has been known for streamlined troubleshooting thanks to the tight collaboration of the core solution partners, NetApp, Cisco and VMware.  This group has been expanded to include Citrix.  This means that a Citrix customer calling with a FlexPod problem can expect their problem will be resolved regardless of where the cause lies within the solution stack, and without vendor finger-pointing.
  • Technical Report on OpenStack – FlexPod expands the choice of cloud orchestration options with a new technical report, Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform (RHEL-OSP) on FlexPod.  Red Hat OpenStack is becoming a top platform choice for public and private clouds.  This paper will cover the use of OpenStack as a means to automate the management of FlexPod, and reflects the growing investment in this approach by NetApp and Cisco.
  • Upcoming UCS Director release – Another advancement to automated FlexPod management includes the upcoming release of Cisco UCS Director (formerly Cloupia) version 4.1.  This release includes specific enhancements for Data ONTAP, adding more reasons to consider UCS Director as a means to orchestrate a FlexPod system.


Build a Cloud on FlexPod Today

With the new validated designs, program enhancements and the #1 worldwide ranking, FlexPod is bigger and better than ever, and ready to support even the most challenging Cloud deployments.  And with all this world-class news I almost forgot to mention that FlexPod is turning 3.  With these improvements and a growing track record of success, you can confidently build your cloud on FlexPod.


Learn more about FlexPod and what makes it great for Cloud solutions by visiting the just-updated FlexPod web page,

finger-number-one.jpgThe US government may be shut down, but FlexPod is still up and running.  In fact FlexPod just busied itself earning a major recognition, following the Microsoft Best of TechEd success, FlexPod has now been ranked by IDC as #1 in worldwide Integrated Infrastructure.


IDC just released the results of new quarterly research, “IDC Worldwide Integrated Infrastructure and Platforms Tracker – 2013Q2” to measure the size and segments of this high growth market, often referred to as ‘Converged Infrastructure’.  The press release highlights the rapid sales increase of 50% year over year, and a total market size surpassing $1.3 Billion. The details of this IDC Tracker show FlexPod was #1 in the Integrated Infrastructure segment!


Key Takeaways of the IDC Tracker

  1. FlexPod is the worldwide leader in Integrated Infrastructure.
  2. FlexPod is #1 in Revenue in the segment
  3. Integrated Infrastructure is the relevant segment for enterprises and service providers who need a Shared IT platform vs. a single workload system.


The IDC report splits the market into two categories: Integrated Infrastructure (i.e., horizontal infrastructure stack type solutions such as FlexPod and Vblock) and Integrated Platforms (workload specific stacks that include the application such as Oracle Exadata). FlexPod ranked #1 in revenue in the integrated infrastructure segment. We consider this Tracker strong validation of FlexPod leadership in the worldwide Integrated Infrastructure market, and the Cisco and NetApp long-term vision and strategy of a highly scalable, unified architecture.


Even More News on the Way

Along with these dominant quarterly rankings, FlexPod has been delivering savings in terms of time and money to thousands of customers for almost three years (do I sense another birthday cake in the near future?)  Thanks for your role in the FlexPod community and helping to make FlexPod #1.  Stay tuned for breaking Fall FlexPod news with new validated designs and program enhancements.  Watch the FlexPod Community page for the Fall news at the end of the month.

Spring-image.PNGNot long after Fashion Week wrapped up in Paris, NetApp, along with Cisco, brought out its own new line… of FlexPod reference architectures ready to wear for Spring and throughout the year.   The recent enhancements to the FlexPod solution delivered on the theme of greater performance, scalability and availability for business critical applications.  A total of eight new validated designs were revealed with publication dates beginning in mid-March.


Spring line appeals to a breadth of tastes

The eight new FlexPod reference architectures span the breadth of customer segments and applications and maintain FlexPod’s position as the leading converged data center platform.  The continued expansion of FlexPod speaks to the strategy of making FlexPod capable of handling any business workload – one or many together on the same shared environment.  These updates to FlexPod are a mix of core platform capabilities and application-specific solutions delivering converged infrastructure benefits from the value-conscious end of the spectrum up to the largest enterprises and service providers.


In detail, we had an enhancement to the core platform, as well as the addition of a new more scalable network switch supporting FCoE and advanced Data Center Interconnect features.  At the entry-level we delivered a new ExpressPod implementation, and Microsoft shops got a Fast Track validated update to their private cloud solution.  And Oracle is embracing FlexPod, with our announced validation of four designs including JD Edwards and bare-metal options.


If you’re looking for pretty pictures of the Spring line, we have a presentation available on slideshare.  Below is the list of the reference architectures, with links to the specific publications where available:



Savings don’t fall out of fashion

FlexPod is known as the world’s more efficient Converged Infrastructure solution, not only because of the leading data efficiency benefits of NetApp storage, but because of savings realized throughout the platform stack.  The total cost of ownership savings from FlexPod are not a short-lived fad like knitted legwarmers, but a perennial classic that has now been documented by industry analysts.


NetApp commissioned a study with Forrester research to quantify FlexPod’s financial benefits.  It was based on interviews of a number of NetApp FlexPod customers – these happened to be running VDI and Microsoft business application workloads.   The result was a 22 page report, “The Total Economic Impact of NetApp’s and Cisco’s FlexPod Data Center Platform”, available for free download, which includes key findings such as the benefits and savings of the average NetApp solution totals $858,000 over 3 years.  Also validated: the average FlexPod customer realizes a 120% risk-adjusted Return on Investment.  Customer savings from FlexPod are realized in the areas of labor from automated provisioning and automated management, hardware consolidation, data storage efficiency, and reduced power and cooling.


The fashion-forward are building on FlexPod

Along with the growing list of FlexPod validated workloads – now with over 30 published designs – is an even faster growing set of third party products and services built on FlexPod.   A few of the attractive offerings that are dressing up data centers today include:


So if you’re shopping for a new infrastructure solution this season, please consider FlexPod.  Share your thoughts about what’s really important when it comes to procuring IT infrastructure, a converged platform, and specifically a solution like FlexPod.


Start a discussion with the FlexPod Community at

Converged Infrastructure info is sweeping the web because it solves key challenges faced by IT organizations today. IT teams in an age of cloud expectations are under pressure to speed deployment and improve performance while reducing costs. By buying applications, servers, networking and storage together as pre-integrated or validated solutions rather than as individual components, they can meet all three of these requirements and keep IT assets within the datacenter.


Converged-Share-image.JPGIn case the idea of ‘Converged Infrastructure’ doesn’t seem entirely new to you, it isn’t.  It’s not a new industry as much as a re-casting of component-based sales to integrated system sales.  According to a recent report by Gartner, it’s a 3.5% slice of the total IT infrastructure business, but one growing at over 50% annually, hitting $83 billion this year.


NetApp in top tier

In this first analysis by this same firm, they took a very academic look at the market, parsing it in terms of Integrated Infrastructure Systems, Integrated Workload Systems, and Integrated Reference Architecture Systems drawing fine lines between specifically where the equipment is assembled and how much software was included in the original bundle vs. added later.  The typical end customer experience, though, is they receive a shrink-wrapped pallet on their loading dock, regardless of whether the converged stack was assembled by a specialized VAR or the equipment manufacturer… and ultimately the system will be used to run some application workload or workloads.


So the most useful way to look at this space is in total, where all the variants are just flavors of the same offering, i.e. Converged Infrastructure.  With this view, the top three players are VCE with VBLOCK, Oracle with Exalogic and their ‘cloud in a box’ offerings, and FlexPod – the partnership between Cisco and NetApp.  All three are in a statistical tie for leadership with about 20% of the market each.  Of course it’s a formative space and these numbers shouldn’t be considered gospel, but if one vendor is telling you they have “57% of the market”, yet have only 600 customers or almost just a quarter of the 2,100 FlexPod customers, you’ve got to wonder about what you’re hearing from that vendor.



Top 3 Reasons to Move to Converged Infrastructure

A recent study by IDC, “Converged Systems: State of the Market and Future Outlook 2012: Market Analysis” provided a comparable view of this new market space, with the top reasons motivating customers to adopt Converged Infrastructure vs. the traditional component-based, do it yourself approach:

1.   Time to service – IT needs to respond more quickly to new business requests and reduce the time to provision new infrastructure. CIOs and IT execs need more agility, esp. as they are being tasked to adopt “3rd Platform” (mobile, social, cloud, big data) technologies to meet Line of Business objectives.

2.   Cost efficiency – Typical Converged Infrastructure deals are not being seen as cheaper in terms of upfront capital investment, but they are delivering overall reduced cost of ownership.  One part of this is the initial expense of installation.  This process typically takes 6 months to a year of planning, RFPs, procurement, deployment, configuration, testing and eventual cut-over. Firms buying Converged Infrastructure instead get a short cut to deployment in weeks, not months, and without a lot of specialized professional services.  In addition, these new virtualized platforms enable workload consolidation and reduced space and heating/cooling costs. And the new management and automation tools available with these solutions are reducing ongoing administration cost.

3.   Operations improvements – “Simplicity” is a term often cited by customers, a driver that includes the benefits of consolidated vendors, streamlined support (i.e. one throat to choke), and benefits from pre-validated interop like reduced problems, increased performance and overall increased uptime.


FlexPod has risen to be a top example of Converged Infrastructure, with more customers moving to it every day.  The unique appeal of the FlexPod is how it can deliver these benefits of Converged Infrastructure while still being Flexible.  It starts with the combination of best of breed components from VMware, Netapp, Cisco, along with a pre-validated design that still accommodates flexibility in scale and configuration. This equates to many deployment options while reducing risk.  A helpful perspective is captured in a well-done partner write-up, here.


London Calling

If you’re fortunate enough to be walking the rainy streets of London as well as the climate-controlled aisles of the Cisco Live show happening there this week, you are probably seeing first-hand the outcome of the growing NetApp-Cisco partnership.  Recent news covers the deeper integration across FlexPod at the platform level enabling seamless orchestration using products such as Cloupia, Microsoft System Center, Citrix CloudPlatform and others.


Specific stories are also breaking about new FlexPod customers like NextiraOne, a leading European integrator of private Cloud Solutions, which has launched dedicated Cloud and Disaster Recovery Suites in the UK built on FlexPod.  I know from personal experience that service providers (and what we used to call ASPs) have traditionally faced a difficult choice of paying a premium for perceived higher cost ‘brand name’ infrastructure vs. using white label and open source.  But because solutions like FlexPod have changed the overall cost/quality curve, these SPs can now go with the quality components they know will deliver the uptime and performance needed to meet SLAs, while still reducing total cost of computing.


Check this out – there’s a Cisco Live virtual site accompanying the London show, with access to sessions – we have 11 on FlexPod at this show!  Here’s the link. Cheers!

As thousands of companies have learned (over 2,000 at last count) FlexPod is the top tier Converged Infrastructure solution that analysts like IDC have validated to be helping companies and their IT organizations reduce capital expenditure, streamline operational expenditure, and rapidly deploy IT


Recent developments with FlexPod include more new customers who are seeing real benefits from the solution.  It’s one thing to have academic analysis about potential gains, and another to hear directly from customers about how a solution really benefited their IT effort and their business.  Here are the three most recent ones - note the links to the source articles and write-ups containing customer quotes and implementation details:


Sauber F1 – This racing team logs 20 annual races in 19 countries and needed an efficient, reliable platform for their racing analytics.  Their F1 car has 100 sensors gathering real-time data that’s analyzed, and lets team members direct the driver to maximize performance where races are won or lost by a millisecond.  Sauber uses the FlexPod as their infrastructure.  The system joins the team on their world-wide circuit, including 100% humidity environments like Malaysia.  And despite the stress, has delivered zero downtime, and reduced footprint and power consumption by 50%.


Katz, Sapper and Miller – The public accounting firm had an aging IT infrastructure that continued to expand its footprint and power use, yet under-delivered on recovery and manageability.  With just two IT staffers they needed a simple yet effective system.  They chose FlexPod.  The pre-architected best-of-breed solution was relatively simple to install and manage, and they got the reduced risk of top tier components from VMware, Cisco and NetApp.  They’ve maintained non-disruptive operations with the new system.  Performance has increased, and for data recovery, RTO and RPO have improved 90%.


Torti Gallas – This architecture firm was seeing periodic IT outages, server sprawl and IT management challenges from their infrastructure.  They were guided to a new solution that provided the reliability and cost-efficiency that met their needs: FlexPod.  They used this virtualized platform to drastically consolidate equipment – reducing physical servers by 80% and gaining the related power and cooling cost savings. They’re also preventing costly downtime with improved data protection.


A key driver to these customer successes is the underlying partnership of the FlexPod solution, namely NetApp and Cisco.  These BFFs have since expanded their shared commitment to this business, with an announcement outlining the growing relationship, and setting the stage for more collaboration and innovation to come.


To track in real time the growing benefits coming from FlexPod, follow us on twitter:

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