Birthdays are an important part of our lives, marking the passing of another year. They are a time to reflect back and to look forward. In a way, a birthday is a point in time like an “income statement” for a corporation’s quarterly report. Public companies issue income statements every 3 months, culminating every year in a Form 10-K (annual report). These forms sum up corporate net worth over the year into a corporate balance sheet, which shows the value of the company over the previous year. In a similar manner for IT infrastructure, Cisco Unified Computing System, and converged infrastructure in general, it’s the balance sheet that matters to customers. Customers want the overall IT value, a balance sheet of IT benefits that Cisco UCS brings to the table, not just at a point in time

 

Happy tenth birthday to Cisco UCS! For 9 of those 10 years, Cisco and NetApp have been close partners in completing the IT solution that UCS set out to solve. The FlexPod® converged infrastructure solution from NetApp and Cisco uses NetApp® storage arrays, Cisco UCS servers, and Cisco Nexus switches, are uniformly deployed and managed in a consistent operational model with NetApp ONTAP® and Cisco UCS Manager software.

This month, as every month for the past 9 years, Cisco and NetApp are working together on new, easily consumable FlexPod solutions. FlexPod is adding more solutions, innovations and technologies to its balance sheet of IT value all the time. Customers can be confident that they can leverage these aggregate best practices and solutions for all their IT needs. This constant evolution gives thousands of FlexPod customers the assurance and peace of mind that their current workload has been thoroughly tested on FlexPod and that all new workloads will be tested.   For more information on these FlexPod customer benefits, please see this Cisco announcement blog, by Steve Cooke, Product Marketing Manager, Cisco UCS entitled: FlexPod, A Quick Look Back, A Big Leap Forward.

 

Here’s a quick look at the balance sheet of IT value that FlexPod has created in the context of an on-premises solution to date:

  • Produced more than $10 billion in revenue in just 9 years
  • Added more than 3 new customers every day since launching
  • Has hundreds of worldwide channel partners with deep expertise to guide, consult, and assist customers with all aspects of FlexPod
  • Totaled a cumulative investment of more than 250 person-years of engineering
  • Is deployed in more than 9,000 customer sites, with more than 5,000PB of capacity shipped
  • Has more than 170 validated designs, including nearly all data center workloads

FlexPod continues to deliver significant business value to customers.  A recent IDC survey of FlexPod customers revealed this value surveying numerous FlexPod customers of all sizes.  These survey benefits are further proof from FlexPod customers of its unique overall value proposition and business benefits:

  • 65% more time spent on innovation and new projects
  • 61% improvement in application performance
  • 60% decrease in number of unplanned downtime incidents
  • 34% decrease in data center floor space
  • 29% reduction in power and cooling
  • 24% saved in software capex

These FlexPod customer benefits and FlexPod’s balance sheet of IT value prove that it will be more relevant to customers in the future than the significant benefits it has already delivered.  To deliver this constant stream of customer benefits, both NetApp and Cisco are introducing new technologies and innovations including:

If we take a deeper look at a better FlexPod user experience both Cisco and NetApp are continually adding customer benefits to Cisco Intersight systems management platform and NetApp® Converged Systems Advisor (CSA) software.  CSA offers FlexPod customers a cloud-based management platform to drastically simplify management and lifecycle automation.  Whether customers have 1 or 100 FlexPod systems, the Converged Systems Advisor cloud-based customer portal enables teams to manage FlexPod from anywhere, with fewer resources and greater agility.  Powered by Ansible, Converged Systems Advisor provides IT teams with holistic views and health dashboards to quickly assess, manage and automate.  Through continuous health checks, Converged Systems Advisor protects against “configuration drift” and provides remediation “easy buttons” so that teams can resolve issues directly from CSA’s cloud-based interface, with simplicity.  Cisco Intersight systems management platform is a software as a service infrastructure management that removes the difficulties of supporting UCS infrastructure at the edge and remote locations as well as in the data center. Intersight scales easily, and frequent updates are implemented without impact.

 

Customers are also seeing new opportunities and potential issues as they move workloads or explore new spaces such as hybrid cloud.  Concerns about speed, cost, and agility are causing customers to move some workloads to the public cloud or back to their own premises. The hybrid cloud is the future of IT, and FlexPod is the ideal platform to be at the center of this multiyear trend.

 

Next, let’s look at FlexPod in the context of hybrid cloud. FlexPod is a converged infrastructure standard that integrates advanced cloud services with the only hybrid, multi-cloud converged infrastructure stack that leverages the data fabric, an architecture and set of data services that offer consistent capabilities across a choice of endpoints spanning on-premises and multiple cloud environments. The data fabric simplifies and integrates data management across the cloud and on the premises to accelerate digital transformation. It delivers consistent and integrated hybrid cloud data services for data visibility and insights, data access and control, and data protection and security.  FlexPod customers can also use Cisco CloudCenter with FlexPod to securely deploy and manage applications in multiple data centers, private cloud, and public cloud environments. This software solution helps you modernize and automate your data center or add public cloud application deployment to your service offering.

Lastly, let’s look at another important balance sheet item: intangible assets. Like brand equity, these assets aren’t tangible because the value of a brand is determined by the perception of the company’s customers and is not a physical asset.  Intangible assets add to a company’s possible future worth, and they can be even more valuable than its tangible assets.  FlexPod, too, has an extensive network of intangible assets that are rarely mentioned but are deeply important.  Here are some FlexPod intangible assets:

  • Hundreds of channel partners worldwide have deep expertise in all aspects of deploying and scaling FlexPod. No matter the size or needs of your business, FlexPod has a channel partner who can guide and assist you.   
  • FlexPod as a consistent operational model, which leverages the NetApp ONTAP and UCS manager technologies. Do you need to scale storage non-disruptively? No problem, ONTAP handles it. Need to move data to the cloud? ONTAP can help. Need software abstraction for Ansible scripts? ONTAP and UCS Manager have you covered.   
  • FlexPod is backed by long-term industry leaders. Cisco and NetApp are both profitable industry giants, ensuring that your FlexPod installation will always get the attention, updates, solutions, innovations and new technologies, just as it has in the past. For example, Cisco’s ACI technology was brought to FlexPod as soon as it was introduced. And the NetApp Data Fabric was available for FlexPod as soon as it was available for ONTAP software.
  • These are just some of the intangible benefits that FlexPod offers. An exhaustive list would take another two blogs.

The IT value of FlexPod is significant and has solved problems for many customers. Worldwide, FlexPod has thousands of happy customers running mission-critical applications.  Take a look at these testimonials and videos to get a sense of FlexPod running a few mission-critical use cases:

  • “With FlexPod, we can allow self-service provisioning and customization at the district level without impacting our overall standardization or governance efforts.” —Larry Luke, Director of Technology, CNYRIC
  • “NetApp FlexPod has transformed our performance and efficiency, so we can focus on applications and end-user services.”  —Liam Cole, IT Commercial Operations Manager, TasNetworks

If you attend Cisco Live US in San Diego, have a few minutes to spare, and are not a current FlexPod customer or partner, stop by NetApp booth 1905 to learn more about the FlexPod balance sheet of IT value and network of intangible IT assets.   

 

If you’re already a FlexPod customer or want to learn more, be sure to attend the many FlexPod activities, including three breakout sessions presented jointly by NetApp and Cisco:

 

Again, happy birthday UCS. But remember, a birthday is just a point in time. What really counts is the balance sheet of IT value and the plethora of intangible IT assets that FlexPod brings to the table, because that’s what solves customers’ current and future IT challenges.

Ranjeet Sudan

Ranjeet is Vice President of NetApp’s Converged Infrastructure Group. In his role, Ranjeet is responsible for NetApp's portfolio of converged infrastructure solutions including FlexPod, the jointly developed system from Cisco and NetApp. With nearly 30 years of industry experience, Ranjeet has been at the forefront of product innovations that have transformed markets and created new product categories, driving new business models and strategies across key networking products and data center converged infrastructure solutions. Ranjeet previously served as Senior Director of product management for FlexPod solutions at NetApp, establishing the FlexPod converged infrastructure solution as a market leading platform for datacenter workloads, private and hybrid cloud service offerings.

Prior to joining NetApp, Ranjeet spent 13 years at Cisco Systems and 10 years at Digital Equipment Corporation in a variety of Product Management, Business Development and Manufacturing positions. Ranjeet holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration from Boston College.