CRN Exclusive: Arrow Teams With StrataCloud to Simplify NetApp-Cisco Converged Infrastructure Setup

Solution providers working with distributor Arrow can now access a StrataCloud software application that reduces the configuration time for NetApp-Cisco FlexPod offering from 70 hours to just 60 minutes.

Incorporating StrataCloud's SDI Install into Arrow's FlexPod offering will allow smaller partners to get into the converged infrastructure market and free up engineers at solution providers of all sizes to more do more complex, high-end work, said Tamara Ells, Centennial, Colo.-based Arrow's senior director of commercial sales, NetApp.

"This is the first tool that I've seen that actually takes automation that full step," Ells told CRN exclusively. "This becomes one piece of a much greater picture."

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Without SDI Install, solution providers would have to bring two or three engineers together specializing in Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS), Cisco Nexus switches and NetApp storage and have them manually configure all of the different tasks associated with installing FlexPod, according to Steve Cundill, StrataCloud's vice president of sales.

"It truly is a manual practice today," Cundill said.

But SDI Install automates 80 percent of the configuration tasks common across end user ecosystems, meaning solution providers only have to manually complete the roughly 20 percent of the variables that are unique to a specific customer environment, Cundill said.

BlueBridge Networks, No. 459 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, is pleased to see Arrow and StrataCloud partnering to bring a simple, highly available offering to end users that will drive adoption in the cloud marketplace.

Although BlueBridge already delivers NetApp through its own infrastructure cloud platform, Kevin Goodman, the company's managing director and partner, told CRN that SDI Install is a good step forward for the channel as a whole since it will secure more adoption and utilization of cloud.

"More opportunities to sustain smooth migrations with sustainable, scalable cloud migration is good for all," Goodman said.

SDI Install starts at $4,000 for less-sophisticated installations with a switchless configuration and no Nexus components, Cundill said, and goes up to $8,000 for a larger, data center FlexPod. Solution providers are billed under a consumption-based licensing model, with a fee associated with every time a partner executes a project using SDI Install.

SDI Install also allows partners to create a blueprint that provides a set of standards based on the 300 different variables that need to be input into a FlexPod configuration, Cundill said.

Arrow will help partners write the script and design a lot of the StrataCloud blueprints, Ells said, and is also willing to use its engineering talent around integration to help solution providers newer to the FlexPod world build their expertise up. Smaller partners with only a few engineers previously found it difficult to pull them off other work for 40 or 50 hours to carry out a FlexPod installation, Ells said.

Arrow is therefore optimistic that SDI Install will help NetApp partners still dealing primarily with standalone storage operations bridge the gap and step up into the converged infrastructure market, Ells said.

Arrow works with approximately 300 NetApp resellers, representing more than half of NetApp's FlexPod business in North America, Cundill said. Solution providers that work with Arrow will source SDI Install through the distributor going forward, Cundill said, while those who do not will continue to source the tool through Atlanta-based StrataCloud, which was featured on CRN's 2016 Virtualization 50.

Despite being on the market for less than three months, four of NetApp's five largest resellers are already using SDI Install concepts, Cundill said, and the company is doing active point of installations for an additional five to seven partners today.

SDI Install is available to Arrow partners in the United States and Canada today, Cundill said, and StrataCloud is in initial discussions with Arrow's team in the United Kingdom about providing the SDI Install service across the pond.