Hopefully you saw the big news out this week about NetApp All-Flash arrays – expanding available offerings with more models, related services, and incentives, with prices starting as low as $25k. Key aspects of the news have been resonating with market, including the need for integrated data protection, data efficiency, and that Flash ought to be a feature of a broader unified storage capability, spanning SAN and NAS.
An especially compelling part of the narrative was the ‘Flash-to-Disk-to-Cloud’ mantra. I can’t do it justice and instead recommend you read Lee Caswell’s blog entry that introduced the topic. But it struck me how important the NetApp Converged solutions are to enabling this continuum of IT service. And how specific solutions like FlexPod have been on the cutting edge of using All-Flash to speed the performance of business critical apps.
Let’s picture in our minds the Wayne’s World flashback music… doodl-oodl-oo, doodl-oodl-oo…
It was September 2014, when we announced the latest set of Validated designs available for FlexPod, and we featured Flash as the centerpiece of that news. That quarter’s Performance announcement touted an impressive list of new designs, products and technologies like Cisco ACI that added to the tool kits of our reseller partners and enterprise IT architects. And from what we heard back, these new workload validations and program enhancements did in fact help our customers achieve new levels of performance.
FlexPod and Flash, Then and Now
At the time, we talked up our designs with Flash arrays that let customers experience the benefits of integrated infrastructure with the optimal level of performance, because they can be configured as either All-Flash or Hybrid arrays. This balance of spinning disk and Flash gave FlexPod the unique ability to match specific performance requirements of a workload, with the budget requirements of the customer, while still delivering the efficiency savings of a single, shared IT infrastructure platform.
A few important changes have occurred since then, moving the Flash narrative forward: Business applications have become more performance-hungry, the set of Flash alternatives on the market have increased, and the Economics of flash have greatly improved. This last factor has allowed the NetApp solution set to advance along the price/performance curve, enabling this latest news about All-Flash.
It turns out that FlexPod has played an important part in the NetApp Flash story, contributing to what Gartner considers a strong Challenger in the space despite a late start with All-Flash products.
Here is the list of the designs and solutions we have published that used Flash as a key aspect of a FlexPod design:
- FlexPod Datacenter with VMware vSphere 5.5 Update 1 & All-Flash FAS
- FlexPod DataCenter with NetApp All-Flash FAS and VMWare Horizon (with View) Design Guide
- FlexPod DataCenter with NetApp All-Flash FAS and VMWare Horizon (with View) Deployment Guide
- NetApp ‘FlexPod’ All-Flash FAS Solution with Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp
- FlexPod Datacenter with Citrix XenDesktop and NVIDIA GRID
- FlexPod Select High Performance with Oracle RAC Design guide (E-series)
- FlexPod Select High Performance with Oracle RAC Deployment guide (E-series)
FlexPod Flash Future
The next chapter of the Flash story will be written as the expanding line of NetApp Converged solutions pave an onramp to the cloud. Integrated IT platforms like FlexPod provide a single unified means to efficiently manage on-premise IT, and they are beginning to provide a manageable way to span the gap between the enterprise datacenter and hosted ‘clouds’. This is true whether it’s a regional managed service, a large service provider like Verizon, or a global hyper-scaler like AWS. With “Cloud first” the new mandate for enterprises and government agencies, it’s all the more reason why you can’t afford isolated silos of All-Flash storage or hyper-converged appliances. IT teams will want the ability to manage a single, continuous ‘data fabric‘ that connects resources, regardless of where they reside physically.