The FlexPod team recently returned from the road at Cisco Live in Berlin, providing us an opportunity to talk with customers and partners about our start for 2017. This year, we are ushering in a dynamic new set of solutions to extend the advantage of all-flash, agile, converged infrastructure.


With FlexPod, a single solution architecture can run both virtualized or bare-metal workloads. With our new designs, we will show how it is possible to use that same architecture to run virtualized, bare-metal, and container workloads. FlexPod extends its considerable flash advantage with the validation of ONTAP 9 and our new A-Series arrays, the most cloud-connected all-flash array. Upcoming ONTAP 9 designs will show double the performance of All Flash FAS with our new A-Series systems, delivering a fast, efficient solution – complete with our new All-Flash Guarantee. New designs with Fibre Channel enable IT teams to leverage existing SAN infrastructure for a more seamless extension of data center resources with our all-flash FlexPod solutions. FEDRAMP readiness, for U.S. Federal cloud deployments, is demonstrated with a secure FlexPod-based infrastructure –  complete with a sample audit. Finally, our repeatable, easy-to-deploy FlexPod Express solutions gain new capabilities with the introduction of E-Series designs for specialized workloads, including the FAS2600 for up to 3x performance improvements in midsize and branch Express solutions.


The upcoming FlexPod Datacenter with vSphere 6.5 and AFF A300 solution bolsters the FlexPod performance advantage even more with the introduction of NetApp AFF A-Series controllers to validated solutions. The AFF A-Series offers the ability to complete twice the work at half the latency of previous generation AFF systems. Scalability also increases with 88.1 PB of raw capacity with NAS and 44.1 PB of raw capacity for SAN workloads. As with previous AFF solutions, one ONTAP operating system from data center to cloud continues to deliver unparalleled data agility for your most important workloads. Customers can future-proof their infrastructure with an open solution that connects to public clouds, while retaining maximum visibility and seamless data control across cloud and on-premises environments. Whether you need to future-proof a high-performance, scalable private cloud for new workloads or implement a simple migration for existing workloads to high-performance infrastructure, FlexPod continues to be an ideal solution.


FlexPod Datacenter with Docker Datacenter for Container Management expands the agility for application deployment on a FlexPod. With FlexPod, one infrastructure architecture can be used for bare-metal or virtualized environments, or both. With containers, this agility is extended with technology for a new and efficient way to deploy applications. Removing the redundant deployment of Guest OS and sharing memory ensures that Docker deployments use your infrastructure resources in the most efficient way. NetApp’s commitment to Docker Datacenter is highlighted with the open-source NetApp Docker Volume Plug-in (nDVP). With nDVP, Docker persistent storage can be managed through Docker Datacenter software. This makes NetApp storage transparent to the end user, opening FlexPod storage capabilities to a new set of DevOps administrators. Using familiar tools, developers can quickly provision new environments with persistent storage, make copies of production data for development use, and create clones of development environments for testing or production deployment. FlexPod’s unified management helps you to tie your infrastructure to your applications across containers and physical elements for better visibility and control. And Cisco UCS Virtual Interface Cards (VICs) reduce production traffic bottlenecks and automatically fail over to support continuous operation.  By leveraging these capabilities, FlexPod with Docker Datacenter helps organizations accelerate the entire development pipeline from initial development through production deployment.


FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vSphere 6.0 and Fibre Channel adds native Fibre Channel to the FlexPod portfolio via the Cisco MDS 9148. This update, along with ONTAP 9 and Cisco UCS M4 blade servers, provides the base for high-performance FlexPod designs utilizing NetApp All Flash FAS. The updated design and deployment guidelines provide guidance for design and demonstrate best practices for deployment of this infrastructure with vSphere 6.0 U2, Cisco UCS Manager 3.1(2b), and ONTAP 9, optimized for an agile, all-flash data center.  This design also shows the addition of Cisco MDS to FlexPod, providing Fibre Channel switching capability when using the Nexus 9000 series switches in situations where scale or direct connectivity is required for an existing SAN.


FlexPod Datacenter with NetApp MetroCluster provides continuous data availability for mission-critical applications by providing a zero-recovery point objective (RPO) along with a near-zero recovery time objective (RTO). With NetApp MetroCluster, two separate clusters can be connected at distances of up to 300km. VMware vSphere Metro Storage Cluster best practices are utilized to provide the best availability to the VMware cluster. This solution provides a broad range of options for customers choosing remote sites for mission-critical applications.


FlexPod Datacenter FedRAMP Readiness with VMware vSphere 6.0, HyTrust CloudControl and DataControl demonstrates practices for FedRAMP readiness. The U.S. Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) was created to provide a standardized approach for assessing, monitoring, and authorizing cloud computing products and services under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and to promote an accelerated adoption of secure cloud solutions by federal agencies. In this solution, FlexPod Datacenter infrastructure is treated as the core infrastructure-as-a-service component. HyTrust CloudControl and HyTrust DataControl software suites are deployed on this infrastructure to enable FlexPod readiness for FedRAMP environments. HyTrust CloudControl (HTCC) serves as a proxy to the VMware vCenter management platform and enhances the platform with forensic-grade logging and advanced administrative control. In addition to providing a deployment guide, a simulated audit is available here.


FlexPod Express offers an affordable, easy-to-deploy platform ideal for midsize business and branch offices. Two new solutions extend the capabilities by integrating high performance, compact-form factor storage systems.


FlexPod Express with VMware vSphere 6.0U2, NetApp E-Series, and Cisco UCS Mini combines the Cisco UCS Mini chassis for compute and the NetApp E2824 storage systems to create an ideal solution for specialized workloads in SMB and remote office environments. The introduction of the E-Series platform to FlexPod Express complements current FP Express solutions with an ideal platform for specialized workloads such as video surveillance, local data protection, and data analytics. SANtricity OS provides a strong platform for simple, reliable data delivery with a dense storage platform for deployments at a branch office or as a core data center for small business.


FlexPod Express with Cisco UCS C-Series and NetApp FAS2600 Series design introduces NetApp’s new FAS2600 storage array to FlexPod’s MSE and ROBO solutions. The FAS2600 uses NVMe flash to reduce latency and delivers up to 3x the performance compared to the previous FAS2500 platform.  This high-performance hybrid storage system with ONTAP 9 support provides consistent data management with FlexPod Datacenter, A- Series, and multi-cloud environments such as those with NPS solutions.


Finally, the 3D Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Visualization with TGX on FlexPod Express or FlexPod Datacenter solution provides guidance for 3D visualization solutions which often require localized, high-performance infrastructure. Trusted solutions for data visualization are key for a growing number of applications in industries such as energy, manufacturing, and higher education.


Read more about FlexPod’s strong start to 2017 with our updated list of validated designs or Cisco’s blog on Docker & FlexPod.


Look for more from the FlexPod team at Cisco Live US in Las Vegas, June 2017.

Nathan Antons

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