If you’re like many of your IT peers, you’ve probably built and deployed your IT infrastructure using distributed technology and infrastructure components on an application-by-application basis.
While historically this approach was sufficient, when IT operated essentially in a silo, as IT becomes more central to all elements of the business a downside comes to the forefront. App-by-app infrastructure development results in fragmented, silo-specific data centers that, when required to meet the needs of multiple departments, are ripe with inefficiencies.
Virtualization can change that by creating a consolidated data center that is efficient, easy to manage and has reduced power demands. And building this type of environment can be very simple when you use a building-block storage solution like FlexPod.
FlexPod offers a set of pre-validated infrastructure building blocks that allow you to build a private cloud or virtualize your data center working with your existing infrastructure. All FlexPods are built on a baseline configuration that includes servers and switches from Cisco, storage from NetApp, and a virtualization component from Citrix, VMware or Microsoft (depending on your manufacturer preference).
The Key to FlexPod? Flexibility, of Course!
All FlexPod solutions start with a standard blueprint, which you can modify to suit your unique needs. The solution will work, as long as the modifications are made within supported manufacturer standards and overall interoperability.
Think of it in terms of building a house: The standard blueprint calls for a 10’ by 10’ picture window; however, you want a 12’ by 16’ picture window. How do you know the larger window will work? Your builder inserts the dimensions of the new window into the blueprint and sees that it doesn’t interfere with any other structure.
The same is true of FlexPod. You have complete flexibility over the build, as long as it fits within the larger framework. For example, you can:
- Buy new, or mix in existing software.
- Purchase the server blades in the quantity and configuration desired.
- Buy as many server chasses, software products, NetApp storage array combinations of Cisco network switches, etc., as you want.
- Deploy VMware View, Microsoft Hyper-V or bare metal.
- Integrate management software (or not).
Making it even easier to get started, smaller organizations can benefit from FlexPod’s new, entry-level design architectures, which are still pre-validated, but priced and sized for smaller workloads.
Am I a Good Fit for a FlexPod Solution?
You’re a strong candidate if you use NetApp for storage, but not if you use EMC. Don’t use either? The following are a few key questions to determine if FlexPod is right for you:
- What is your desired use case (e.g. VDI, DR, new application, re-platforming, virtualization (Phase I or II), etc.)? Note: Understanding the end goal is the single greatest key to success.
- What virtualization investments have you already made? Can you integrate FlexPod in a way that builds on them rather than rips and replaces?
- What is the age of your infrastructure? Must it be reused or is greenfield possible?
- How quickly do you want to be up and running? Speed to market is often a business advantage, if not an absolute requirement.
What Do You Think?
Are you looking to build out FlexPod or exploring other options in virtual infrastructure? What solutions are of interest? Share your experiences and thoughts below.
Bill Cannon is a longtime member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a sponsoring member of the 802.11 Standards Committee. He participated in IEEE’s deliberations of the formal definition of both cloud computing and its studies on the relationships between cloud computing and virtualization. He currently serves as a Partner Manager for key technology manufacturers. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn.
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