Big Data Believers: NetApp, Cisco Take FlexPod To Next Level With Hadoop

It's perfectly logical for NetApp and Cisco to move into high-performance workstreams, said Shawn O'Grady, executive vice president of Datalink, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based solution provider and FlexPod partner.

"First, they're attacking workstreams that are less likely to go to the cloud," O'Grady said. "And if customers want to go to the cloud, it would be with the kind of cloud provider that works with NetApp, and not a public cloud provider like Amazon. Second, this aligns nicely with some of the new functionalities of Data Ontap."

NetApp and Cisco's new naming convention for the FlexPod line includes a number of changes.

At the top is FlexPod Select, which is aimed at specialized environments such as big data, Howe said.

FlexPod Select includes NetApp's E-series or FAS storage solutions, Cisco's UCS servers and Nexus or Catalyst networking technology, and options for direct attach, Fibre Channel, or 10-Gbit Ethernet storage and networking connectivity.

NetApp and Cisco renamed their existing FlexPod reference architecture as FlexPod Datacenter, Howe said. Targeted at enterprise data centers, FlexPod Datacenter includes FAS storage systems, Cisco UCS servers with Nexus switches, and a 10-Gbit Ethernet fabric.

FlexPod Datacenter sees the first introduction of Cisco's Nexus 7000 switch to the FlexPod line, said Jim McHugh, vice president of data center marketing for Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

The Nexus 7000 features zero packet loss, converged LAN and SAN in a single cable, and increased support for virtual machine mobility across multiple data centers, McHugh said.

The two companies also renamed their ExpressPod entry-level reference architecture as FlexPod Express. FlexPod Express targets midsize customers using NetApp's FAS2000 entry-level storage array, Cisco's C-series rackmount servers and Nexus 3000 switches, and Gigabit Ethernet fabrics.

The new naming convention is much easier to use than the older FlexPod and ExpressPod, Mueller said.

"It can be hard to differentiate between FlexPod and ExpressPod," he said. "Customers often say they seem to be the same thing. And ExpressPod is so new, I don't know how many customers even know the name. FlexPod is a much better-known name."