NetApp Plays a Leading Role in Converged Infrastructure, Too

Sep 29, 2016

NetApp recently made a splash in network attached storage (NAS) with ONTAP 9.1’s new hardware platform refresh and software advances. However, NetApp’s solutions for data centers extend beyond NAS. They also provide the top-rated converged infrastructure (CI) solution in partnership with Cisco, NetApp FlexPod. In this article, we will take a closer at FlexPod. 

What’s in FlexPod for You?

Before we dive into the technology, let’s talk about the benefits. Like all CI solutions, FlexPod helps reduce complexity in your data center. Instead of multiple, distinct devices, you get compute, storage, networking, and server virtualization all in the same chassis.

But FlexPod aspires to more than just simplicity. It reduces the TCO for your performance apps and accelerates business outcomes. It does that in part by delivering all-flash CI solutions. Here is what Gartner reports that all-flash gets you:

  • 16% maintenance savings
  • 76% power and cooling cost savings
  • 63% rack space savings
  • 48% simplicity of administration savings

To understand how FlexPod all-flash CI delivers all of these benefits, we have to look at the technology behind it. We will start with the industry trends that are leading to all-flash solutions.

Two Key Factors Driving Flash Growth

First, flash storage today is faster and less costly than it ever has been. Input/output operations per second (IOPS) costs cents (i.e. less than a dollar). But the cost to achieve the same IOPS with spinning disks runs in dollars. For IOPS-intensive workloads, the cost difference adds up quickly.

At the same time, aggressive pricing and data reduction technologies are rapidly bringing down the cost per GB for all-flash storage. That makes flash even more attractive.

How significant is the cost difference? NetApp estimates that moving from disk to all-flash storage for a SQL Server database can deliver 65% return on investment in just 6 months. As a result, flash is rapidly replacing SAS disk in the data center.

Better Business Outcomes for You and Your Customers

Better performance from key systems such as ERP allows you to serve more customers more quickly. Readily available analytics (think big data) enable better decision-making. In other words, improved performance delivers actionable results.

Better business outcomes also extend to customers. Improved performance from your eCommerce platform ensures an improved customer experience. The consistent performance characteristic of all-flash storage makes customers happier too. Consistency in application performance is becoming a key customer experience metric. 

FlexPod All-Flash Converged Infrastructure Sets the Standard

NetApp describes FlexPod as the industry’s only enterprise-grade all-flash array. With the advantages of all-flash solutions in mind, the benefits of FlexPod are easy to see. Still, FlexPod does not rely purely on hardware to stand out in converged infrastructure solutions. For example, NetApp has optimized the software, ONTAP, to use flash.

What’s more, as a holistic solution, FlexPod’s capabilities include:

  • Integrating storage efficiency features such as dedupe and compression.
  • Scaling out seamlessly for non-disruptive operations just by adding another FlexPod.
  • Integrating application-aware data protection.
  • Unifying management of your data from flash to capacity to cloud-based ONTAP to Edge.

FlexPod by the Numbers

To get a feel for how FlexPod measures up as a converged infrastructure solution, let’s look at some numbers.

FlexPod’s Performance

  • Up to 20x all-flash storage performance
  • 208% faster SQL response times
  • 100+ world record benchmarks

FlexPod’s Agility

  • 83% faster provisioning with ACI and UCS
  • 20% to 30% reduction in application testing time
  • 70% of engineering time reclaimed

FlexPod’s Economics

* Source: Forrester TEI

An Excellent Option on Your List of CI Solutions

In summary, FlexPod goes beyond the basics of converged infrastructure solutions. FlexPod uses all-flash technology to create a best of breed CI that stands out for performance and cost. When it’s time to modernize your data center, FlexPod should be a top contender.