Avnet Offers FlexPod Services Around NetApp, Cisco Data Center Architecture

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Under the initiative, Avnet will provide all the products, assembly, testing, technical expertise and support to bring FlexPod solutions to market, said said Carol Kinney, vice president of FlexPod services, Avnet Technology Solutions.

FlexPod was introduced last November, with VMware as a third partner, as a competitor to the VCE Vblock architecture designed by VMware, Cisco and EMC.

"We've been fully supportive of partners with FlexPod with our NetApp team or our Cisco Solutions Group, but we saw that bringing it together under a single phone call with additional expertise for partners would be a great benefit [to VARs]," Kinney said. "They can continue to buy all the products separately and put them together themselves, but we have the expertise and the consistent cadence that should make a simpler interface for the partner base."

Avnet's ability to build the solutions should help NetApp partners who don't have Cisco expertise, and vice versa, said Scott Look, vice president and general manager of Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, Technology Infrastructure Solutions group.

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"And then we can bring them all through the demand generation, enablement, supply chain integration," Look said. "The FlexPod system [also] has been integrated into our SolutionsPath demo center. It's fully functional for partners to use. It fits perfectly into our SolutionsPath methodology and we'll take it into our HealthPath, RetailPath, EnergyPath solutions groups. We built this program with Cisco and NetApp to help simplify partners' success and increase profitability with the resources we have."

Avnet's new FlexPod services team to help VARs includes customer solutions program managers, technical consultants and more, Kinney said. "We want to make sure if there are unique requests that we can address them. Over the past four to six weeks, we've been involved working with Cisco and NetApp to build FlexPods to provide that expertise. It's a combination of dedicated resources and leveraging many resources we already have. We have 25 field people to talk to about FlexPod."

The notion of "data centers in a box" such as FlexPod is becoming a more popular choice among VARs and end users, according to a recent Uptime Institute survey.

Jonathan Groves, vice president of professional services for INX, a Houston-based solution provider, said Avnet's ability to offer services around FlexPod design and testing should help solution providers.

"I like the model. I think the services that they are wrapping around the FlexPod will really help partners accelerate time to market with this architecture," Groves said.

Groves added that the FlexPod technology is a solid design to help move customers to more cloud-based solutions.

"If you look at the hybrid cloud market that all of us are running toward, a common architecture is really critical for that virtualized infrastructure and moving from one geographic location to the next. It's really an architectural play at the core. FlexPod is a key component of that architecture. For cloud enablers like INX, I see the FlexPod [design] as an accelerator to that space. And Avnet is not removing the value proposition of the channel, they're enabling it."