NetApp, Cisco Unveil New Managed Cloud Services, Vertical Solutions For FlexPod


NetApp and Cisco next week will use the upcoming Cisco Live conference to show off new FlexPod managed private cloud services and vertical solutions capabilities.

The underlying structure of the FlexPod converged infrastructure offering, which integrates NetApp storage with Cisco UCS compute and networking resources with a unified management scheme, is not changing with the new releases, said Ranjeet Sudan, vice president of NetApp's Converged Infrastructure Group.

Instead, Sudan told CRN, the focus is on enabling partners to do more with the FlexPod platform, both newly installed and previously installed.

[Related: NetApp CEO Kurian: Growth Driven By Sales Of Strategic Products, Especially All-flash Storage]

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The first new FlexPod enhancement is the ability for partners to help customers set up managed private cloud services on the converged infrastructure platform, Sudan said. This gives customers an on-premises cloud solution that can be managed remotely for business-critical applications, he said.

Included are a set of requirements for building the cloud, service-level agreement guidelines, and a pricing structure for multi-tenant environments, Sudan said. Partners can take advantage of NetApp's new optional Converged System Advisor to provide always-on monitoring of the infrastructure.

Arun Garg, director of product management for NetApp's Converged Infrastructure Group, told CRN customers get a complete managed cloud with FlexPod at the base, along with a third-party managed cloud service, and full management and monitoring with help from NetApp.

"For example, [one solution provider] might help customers deploy an on-premises cloud with FlexPod, its cloud portal, remote connectivity to its network operations center, and SLAs for running the cloud on-premises," Garg said. Other solution providers, however, may take advantage of third-party cloud platforms, he said.

Also new from NetApp is the first validated vertical solutions based on FlexPod.

Sudan said FlexPod traditionally has been tested and validated with horizontal applications like Oracle databases. However, the company is now unveiling the first validated vertical solution for FlexPod, the FlexPod Datacenter for Epic EHR, which provides a complete infrastructure for managing electronic health records using Verona, Wis.-based Epic's platform.

"We already have a lot of hospitals and health-care organizations running FlexPod," he said. "Now we're expanding to vertical solutions like Epic EHR. Epic EHR was written to take advantage of the file data and scale-out capabilities NetApp offers."

Looking ahead, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp will plan more health-care vertical solutions for FlexPod, and then move on to other verticals, Sudan said. "We started with electronic health records first because four to five companies control about 80 percent of the market," he said.

FlexPod is already a very flexible platform for building IT infrastructures, with at least 140 Cisco Validated Designs available, said John Woodall, vice president of engineering at Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime NetApp channel partner.

"The value of reference architectures like FlexPod is they give customers confidence in the engineering behind it," Woodall told CRN. "Big customers have their own standards, and build infrastructures to those standards. And FlexPod is the standard for many companies. If a business buys FlexPod with Epic EHR, they know what's in it, they know what results they'll get."

With FlexPod, solution providers know they can avoid integrating the compute, storage and networking components, and focus on the applications, Woodall said.

"Standardization can be a boring topic until you have a problem," he said. "There are so many new issues that pop up and make the platform unwieldy."