The FlexPod team continues its focus on simplifying converged infrastructure. As FlexPod solutions continue to deliver high-performance, flexible solutions for shared workloads, it is important to provide tools for the IT operations staff to scale and manage their IT infrastructure.


FlexPod with Infrastructure AutomationAt NetApp Insight, we began the discussion with the announcement of FlexPod Services by Avnet One (FSA One), Lifecycle Management, and extensions to FlexPod Express. Now, the FlexPod team builds on this simplicity without compromise with the release of a new self-contained FlexPod offering-FlexPod with Infrastructure Automation. Together with extended designs for the Cisco UCS Mini and software tools for enhanced lifecycle management, this solution further accelerates the deployment of leading converged infrastructure solutions.


FlexPod with Infrastructure Automation is shipped as a fully assembled FlexPod-switching, compute, and storage, with a management module-fully cabled in a rack. The management module rapidly provisions the compute, storage, and networking elements so that the solution is ready for production workloads in less than an hour.


Easy to Order, Deploy, and Own

FlexPod with Infrastructure Automation is designed to be easy to order, easy to deploy, and easy to own. Ordering will be made easier by purchase as a single, ready-to-deploy product-which can shrink the procurement process from weeks to days. An easy-to-use, guided GUI interface readies the solution for workloads in less than an hour. The automation is integrated with Cisco UCS Director, complete with predefined templates and scripts for common operational tasks, resource configuration, and activation. Once deployed, UCS Director can be used for centralized management of the solution. And, once active, the solution’s ease of ownership comes courtesy of cooperative support from leading independent software vendors (ISVs) in addition to Cisco and NetApp support teams in a single ecosystem. The solution also scales with the same flexibility as other FlexPod solutions-scale up with additional compute or disk shelves, scale out with additional racks, or scale to the cloud with data fabric.


Enterprise-Grade Functionality

Businesses deploying IT infrastructure at remote or branch sites benefit from this easy-to-deploy solution, as do isolated sites that are remote from central IT staff. Small and medium businesses can confidently deploy the solution without compromising enterprise-grade functionality. This functionality includes industry-leading blade servers, native data protection, and the flexible scale of FlexPod. It’s also possible to deploy common policies across data center and remote offices to reduce infrastructure islands and deliver consistent solutions.


The FlexPod team has also released a couple of additional designs. The FlexPod Data Center with Oracle RAC update now shows how to reduce user and application wait times by delivering up to 2 million IOPS at microsecond latencies for business-critical workloads running on Oracle Database. The updated FlexPod with Cisco UCS Mini Design Guide now shows the entire range of FlexPod UCS Mini-based designs with announced plans for UCS Mini-based FlexPod designs with vSphere 6.0.


Lifecycle Management

At NetApp Insight, we also talked about how FlexPod Lifecycle Management provides the tooling, documented step-by-step upgrade procedure, and ongoing FlexPod software stack validations necessary to minimize business disruption and preserve the asset value of a FlexPod data center investment.


With the release of Config Advisor 4.4, partners now have access to a key tool in FlexPod Lifecycle Management. The Config Advisor is a software tool for configuration validation and health check for NetApp systems. It can be used to check a NetApp system or FlexPod for the correctness of hardware installation and conformance to NetApp recommended settings. It collects data and runs a series of commands on the hardware, then checks for cabling, configuration, availability, and best practice issues. This health check automates firmware recommendations per our Interoperability Matrix Tool, which includes operating systems from across the FlexPod stack, even including hypervisor software and UCS Management Software. The Config Advisor tool can be used for new deployments, or to audit existing deployments to ensure optimal system health in a consistent, simplified manner.


Read more about FlexPod with Infrastructure Automation on Cisco’s blog.


Nathan Antons