This post takes a high-level look at the FlexPod solutions NetApp offers today and provides the basic fundamentals:  what comprises a FlexPod, the unique benefits FlexPod delivers, how to identify a FlexPod opportunity, standard configurations, etc. If you’re new to FlexPod, this should get you off to a great start.

FlexPod Architecture

What is FlexPod?


Shared infrastructure for a wide range of environments and applications.

•       Validated, standardised, shared infrastructure
•       Flexibility and scalability within a single rack
•       Centralised management of pooled resources
•       Deployment guides with step-by-step instructions
•       Solution guides pre-define multiple workloads
•       Multiple sizing tools

Minimum requirements for a “FlexPod” configuration

When is FlexPod a good fit?

Customer Challenge
Ineffective management and resource allocation

Increased costs associated with multiple network platforms

Lengthy testing and deployment processes

Risks associated with siloed technologies

Increased scalability
Faster application deployments
Simplified management
Orchestration and workflow automation

Unified network equals less cost.
Unified fabric provides single unified 10GbE no need for separate networks

Pre integrated solution
Standardise deployment processes

High Availability during outages
Reduction in overall cost of availability and disaster recovery.

What does FlexPod Offer?<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>

Unified Systems

·         Simplified setup
·         Increased control
·         Lower costs

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Single point for management

·         Higher productivity
·         Lower labour costs
·         Fewer errors (configuration drift)

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Highly efficient

·         Self-Implementing
·         Increased workload agility
·         Lower costs
·         Lower power
·         Higher reliability
·         Simplified setup
·         Higher asset utilisation
·         Higher application performance

<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>Scalable

·         More workloads with less gear
·         Better performance
·         Less cost per virtual machine

What FlexPod models are available?

FlexPod Express – for smaller, less dynamic requirements (MSB / Branch Office)

·         Pre-configured (small or medium)
·         Focus on simplicity and cost
·         Limited IT staffing
·         Target: less than 500 users
·         1 GB Ethernet

FlexPod Data Center Solution – Massively scalable shared virtual data center infrastructure.

·         Enterprise-class solution
·         Focus on strategic platform
·         Existing IT Staff
·         Target: 500 users and above
·         10 GB Ethernet

FlexPod Select – Big data analytics, Scientific, High Performance Computing

Where can i find FlexPod documentation?
Validated and supported FlexPod designs

There are two key “go to” places to find the FlexPod architecture design and run book documentation and these links are highlighted below.

Cisco Validated Design Program – tested end-to-end scenarios

NetApp Verified Architecture –

What Solutions do FlexPod support?

VMware (Exchange, SQL Server, Sharepoint, View)

Microsoft Private Cloud/HyperV

Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Citrix XenDesktop

SAP Applications

Validated vs Supported:

Validated means that everything has been tested end to end.

Supported required IMT checks etc to determine if the specific workload/application is supported with the specific configuration.

Why choose Unified Fabric?
Benefits of Cisco Nexus Unified Fabric with FlexPod

End-to-end convergence – Cisco Nexus, MDS, Director

Cisco Data Center network manager

Why choose Unified Fabric?


Cisco NX-OS
Cisco FabricPath
Cisco FabricPath Extender


Unified ports
Data center bridging / FCoE


Cisco Nexus 1000v & Virtual Extensible LAN
Cisco ASA 1000v Series, Cisco Virtual Security Gateway, Cisco vPath
Layer 4-7
Cisco Digital Media Manager, Cisco Storage Media encryption

Non-stop operations
Architectural flexibility/scale
Fabric extensibility to physical/virtual
Geographic span / workload mobility
Active-active oplinks

Deployment flexibility
Consolidated I/O
Consolidated management
Device consolidation

VM-Aware Networking

Integrated Application Delivery
Storage Services

FlexPod with UCS Director
Challenges of the Datacenter Operations and Management


Disconnect processes:

·              Data center infrastructure managed in silos
·              Need for strong vendor specific skill sets
·              Manual administration
·              High-touch operations

Result in:

·               Direct increases in operational expense
·               Indirect increases in capital expense
·               Delays in time to market
·               Poor IT responsiveness to service requests

UCS Director for FlexPod

End-to-end infrastructure management

·         Unified click provisioning
·         Single management interface
o   Physical and Virtual infrastructure
·         Model based orchestration
·         Converged Infrastructure management
o   Self-service portal
o   Multi-tenant / secure multi-tenant security

UCS Director allows the subject matter experts to create their own dedicated policies for their part of the infrastructure, these are all then driven by the UCS Director Management piece. The result is a single pain of glass for end-to-end automation and lifecycle management. A complete turnkey solution.

Additional Information

My fellow NetApp A-Team members and Cisco Champions Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) and Melissa Palmer (@vmiss33) discuss a FlexPod 101 on an EngineersUnplugged episode here:

UCS Tech Talk: UCS-Based Converged Infrastructure Management With UCS Director:

I have also included a link to the 3D FlexPod model. If you’ve ever been to a trade show that involves either Cisco or NetApp, you’ll be sure to see this life-size cardboard rack. If you have the app installed on your mobile device, point it toward the wall of cardboard and watch the magic happen. Learn more here along with how to get the app for your smart device:

Please ask your questions or provide any feedback below. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *