FlexPodThe overriding charter of the NetApp IT Customer-1 team is to be the first customer for NetApp products and services. As part of this charter, the Customer-1 team has been an avid adopter of the FlexPod® reference architectures.


Introduced in 2010, NetApp’s FlexPod family of IT infrastructure solutions combines NetApp® storage systems, Cisco® Unified Computing System (UCS) servers, and Cisco Nexus fabric into a single, flexible architecture. The benefit is to accelerate application deployment and reduce costs.


FlexPod Installations in NetApp IT

NetApp IT has three primary corporate data centers, two of which provide IT infrastructure for business applications. Each data center requires an infrastructure architecture to properly install, support, and get the most business value from IT equipment. For this infrastructure architecture, we adopted the FlexPod solution three years ago.


We currently have eight FlexPod solutions installed at NetApp IT. Our first two FlexPod solutions used the original FlexPod reference architecture with Cisco Nexus 5000-series switches, Cisco UCS servers, and NetApp storage systems. One FlexPod installation is in our sub-production data center in Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC, and the other is in our production data center in Hillsboro, Oregon (HDC).


First Adoption

After installing these first two FlexPod solutions, the Customer-1 team provided valuable feedback to the FlexPod Engineering team. For example, we told them we liked the FlexPod solution, but we wanted to see it scale up to larger data center footprints. We also provided some of our data center Provisioning on Demand (POD) architectures as examples.


Taking into consideration our feedback, NetApp and Cisco developed and released a new FlexPod Data Center reference architecture. This new reference architecture provided expanded scalability since it was based on Cisco Nexus 7000-series switches which have hundreds of 10G ports. We quickly adopted the FlexPod Data Center reference architecture in both the RTP and HDC data centers, giving us four FlexPod installations. FlexPod Data Center is currently the reference architecture we use for all new data center installations.


New Early Adoption Environment

Customer-1 ProgramWe also use FlexPod solutions in other areas. The FlexPod reference architecture is the foundation of the new Early Adoption Environments in both data centers. Both of these installations are based on the new FlexPod reference architecture with Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) networking. Our two SAP HANA installations use the FlexPod architecture to perform historical, predictive, and statistical analytics.


The FlexPod solution has become the standard reference architecture we use to build infrastructure in our data centers. It provides the technical specifics on how to get the most business benefit from the IT infrastructure we have invested in.


As the first adopter of NetApp solutions, Customer-1 is in a unique role to give real-world feedback on products such as FlexPod. In future blogs, we will share other lessons learned as we install and use other NetApp products and services. If you have any questions about the Customer-1 program, I invite you to respond using the comment section below.


The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.

Michael Morris

As the Senior Director for Platform, Cloud and Infrastructure, Mike leads NetApp IT’s hybrid cloud and DevOps platform strategy―orchestrated and managed by an automation ecosystem―to create a holistic environment for cloud-aware enterprise applications. Mike leads the automation, infrastructure, cloud, and service management teams for NetApp which culminate to create NetApp IT’s DevOps platform, “CloudOne”. He also spearheads the internal feedback program between IT and product development and marketing, discussing how IT uses NetApp products and services.

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