Announcing FlexPod for VMware from Cisco & NetApp


Today we held our ‘Future Ready’ event, which was the largest product launch in the history of NetApp. This launch was so extensive it included updates to three quarters of our portfolio and introduced a slew of net new features, products, and solutions.

Am I excited? That’s an understatement!

Current global economic conditions are reshaping business and success is becoming increasingly dependent on the ability of IT to transition to a flexible and efficient shared IT infrastructure that enables IT and accelerate business. NetApp is innovating to meet these challenges and id like to highlight just a few of the key announcements included in today’s launch!

  • High End FAS & vSeries 6200 platforms: Defining high-end performance
  • Mid Range FAS & vSeries 3200 platforms: Delivering outstanding value and efficiency
  • New disk drives & shelves: Increasing efficiency and performance via a 2.5” form factor and the introduction of SSD
  • Data ONTAP 8.0.1: Includes delivers support for VAAI & inline data compression (to name just a few highlights)
  • Unified Connect 10 GbE CNAs: Providing ‘one wire’ for all I/O and workloads
  • OnCommand Management: Software for managing shared IT Infrastructures
  • FlexPod for VMware: Introduces a new enterprise data center solution that is pre-sized and integrates NetApp, Cisco, and VMware technologies to help customers deploy shared IT infrastructures more efficiently and effectively

There’s so much content to dig into and share that you should expect a significant number of posts from many at NetApp over the next few days. Per my norm, I will share with you details on a number of these technologies specifically as the pertain to virtual and cloud infrastructures starting with FlexPod.

Cisco and NetApp Announce FlexPod for VMware

As a part of Today’s Future Ready Launch we announced FlexPod for VMware, a infrastructure designed to enhance and accelerate the adoption of private and public cloud. FlexPod was developed in partnership with Cisco, NetApp and VMware and were modeled after the infrastructures delivering services for the world’s largest cloud service providers.

FlexPod is unlike any other solution in the industry as it was designed to be elastic, to scale incrementally and the cloud grows, while ensuring service levels and operation simplicity, yet is expandable with solutions and enablements like SMT (unparalleled secure separation of tenants).

Who knows more about building an Ethernet based compute and storage infrastructure than Cisco & NetApp? No one.

The Worlds Largest Existing Cloud Architecture, Now Available to You

Do you know what it takes to ensure service levels and availability on a completely virtualized and shared infrastructure? I doubt many of us do, yet there are a number of mammoth sized companies which have been providing cloud services, successfully and at massive scale form a number of years.

At VMworld Europe I had the privilege of running the demo of the joint session delivered by Hisam Ahmad, T-Systems, Global Head of Architecture and Engineering, with our Cloud-Czar Val Bercovici. During his presentation, Hisam didn’t mince words when he stated (and I paraphrase) the only way T-Systems could scale, ensure profitability, and offer a diverse set of applications and service offerings via the cloud was to establish a unified infrastructure.

Their Unified Architecture is built on Cisco & NetApp!

Application service teiring should be an intrinsic byproduct of standardizing on the management capabilities of the hardware layer. Applications should not lose or have to trade off features when the application is moved across the various models of hardware components.

If you attended either VMworld 2010 event you have access to the replay and content from VMworld session SP9659. I urge you to check it out.

A Thought on Unified Product Offerings

It seems that the only thing unified today is every vendor claims to be unified. By definition unified must apply across an architecture and not limited to the scope of an individual platform. It is the architecture which unifies the diverse set of hardware into a consistent set of management tools and processes, features, applications support, commonality with orchestration tools, etc.

It seems silly to constrict the definition to only represent the ability of a platform to have for multiple storage protocols. NetApp was doing this form of unified storage in 1996.

Cloud infrastructures requite consistency of management tools and operational processes across a diverse set of hardware components. One cannot be built on legacy-based, rigid and inflexible hardware components originating in your grandfather’s era of data center operations.

FlexPod Means Flexible Adoption!

FlexPod is a infrastructure reference architecture built by Cisco and NetApp specifically for running VMware. It is modularly scalable, with sizing designed to fit your business needs. It scales modularly while ensuring security, mobility, performance, and availability.

In addition to all of this goodness many of you may be surprised to learn that FlexPod is not an ‘All-or-Nothing’ purchase. The benefit of the architecture is it is designed to be adopted via a ‘consume on demand’ model. Think of thin provisioning your cloud infrastructure, only acquiring a data center resource as need appears on the horizon.

Already have nexus core switches and want to incorporate them into a FlexPod? No problem! Have legacy storage arrays still depreciating? No problem, FlexPod allows you to virtualize old arrays and incorporate these assets into your FlexPod. There’s no need to purchase an entire stack if it doesn’t fit your business model.

Our partners are equipped with design tools which allow them to provide a FlexPod architecture custom suited to meet your needs from small footprint to massive scale-out.

Not interested in consume on demand? Say you have project or initiative based funding? Maybe you’re looking to deploy virtual desktop. The FlexPod can also be sized into modular bundles that allow one to scale a project inline with budget allocation, moving form proof of concept to global deployment with a turn-key repeatability. This is the exact model we used the multi-vendor 50,000 VMware View Reference Architecture.

I should also highlight that FlexPod for VMware is part of a larger FlexPod program between Cisco and NetApp which is investing in delivering data center infrastructure stacks and solutions.

Stay tuned, oh there will be more to discuss on this topic soon.

Partners & Support

Flexible IT is a collection of technologies that come together in an overall architecture to deliver business value via a private-cloud or shared, virtualized, and automated infrastructure.

With today’s launch, FlexPod has over 100 leading partners globally ready to help you adopt a FlexPod. Our partners are providing services ranging from sales, to design, implement, migrate, train, operate and support.

Most of our mid-sized to largest customers today already have a premium, high touch support from NetApp, Cisco, and/or a joint partner. Support for FlexPod was designed to extend the initiate knowledge of your existing support staff by allowing them a means to connect a coordinated, connected ,cross-trained, support staff from Cisco, NetApp, and VMware. In this model the details and minutia of your most critical apps, which often is only known by your in-house experts can now easily be leveraged as these apps move from their legacy, physical based infrastructure to the cloud.

Management & Orchestrat

Some of the key management components of FlexPod include:

  • VMware® vCenter™
  • Cisco UCS Manager
  • NetApp® Systems Manager and industry leading vCenter Plug-Ins
  • Extensible open APIs for use with any of our joint orchestration partners!

One of my highlights from VMworld 2010 was the 14 demos from 7 cloud orchestration partners which were a part of our booth (and are available online). No ‘vendor lock-in’ here – adopt the orchestration partner of your choice, tryst me, they have unified NetApp resource adapters to drag and drop into their orchestration modelers.

FlexPod Includes Support for Applications

FlexPod includes support for industry leading applications, and will be delivering more over the next weeks and months. These solutions are based on technologies from Cisco, NetApp, and VMware and leverage the unique capabilities of running virtualized applications on unified infrastructures. Today’s launch includes support for:

  • VMware View
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft SQL Server

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, I’ve barely scratched the surface here. Look for more posts from me and the NetApp community regarding FlexPod and the new technologies we launched today. Till then, here’s a number of post related to today’s announcements from Val, Mike, and Nick.

For official information on the Future Ready launch, visit:


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