NetApp's FlexPod Goes Head-to-head With EMC's Vblock

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NetApp on Tuesday unveiled a new data center storage solution in conjunction with partners Cisco and VMware to combat the Vblock architecture designed by those two partners in conjunction with NetApp's top rival, EMC.

The new solution, the FlexPod Modular Data Center Solution, is part of a larger refresh of NetApp's storage hardware and software products. That refresh also includes new models FAS6200 and FAS3200 storage appliances, a new version of its Data ONTAP operating system, and a new management software.

"This is the biggest launch in NetApp's history," said Julie Parrish, NetApp's vice president for global partner sales. "We say this because 80 percent of our products are being refreshed."

The product refresh is being led by the introduction of NetApp's FlexPod Modular Data Center Solution.

FlexPod is not a product, but is instead an architecture that provides a large degree of flexibility in configuring storage solutions based on NetApp storage, Cisco networking, and VMware virtualization technology, Parrish said.

FlexPod is a pre-sized, validated, and standardized data center architecture aimed at helping solution providers build flexible storage solutions to help customers transition for an eventual adoption of cloud computing, Parrish said.

"This provides the transition, the roadmap, to help partners," she said. "It does a good job of de-risking for the partners while allowing them to add a great deal of their own value and services."

The FlexPod, like EMC's Vblock data center architecture, was designed in conjunction with Cisco and VMware, two companies with deep strategic relationships with both EMC and NetApp.

However, Parrish said, while Vblock is available in specific pre-configured and integrated solutions, the components for the FlexPod solution are sourced from the three vendors individually. "FlexPod is not a SKU," she said. "It's not a fixed block that you have to try to fit in somehow."

Because FlexPod is an architecture and not a specific SKU, solution providers need no special training or authorization to work with it, Parrish said. "You have to be a partner authorized by VMware, Cisco, and NetApp, but no additional authorization is needed," she said. "About 160 of our partners worldwide already fall in that category."

As a result, there is no direct channel for the FlexPod, Parrish said. "Since FlexPod is not a SKU, it has to go through our partners," she said.


NEXT: Bringing FlexPod To Market Via VARs

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