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NetApp: FlexPod-as-a-Service Coming To North America

Making the joint Cisco-NetApp FlexPod converged infrastructure platform available to partners with consumption-based pricing is the latest move by NetApp to make as much of its technology available as a service or via the cloud.

NetApp and Cisco are preparing to bring its FlexPod converged infrastructure technology to the channel in a new as-a-service offering.

NetApp and Cisco recently quietly introduced a consumption-based version of their joint FlexPod converged infrastructure in its EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) market, and is hoping to do so in the near future in the Americas, said Chris Lamborn, head of global partner go to market and programs for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp.

The move to bring FlexPod-as-a-service comes during a time when the two vendors are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of FlexPod, which combines Cisco UCS servers and Nexus fabric networking switches with NetApp all-flash storage.

[Related: NetApp Introduces Keystone: Simplifying Storage For Hybrid, Multi-Cloud World]

"Cisco and NetApp have a phenomenal 10-year-plus relationship now," Lamborn told CRN. "FlexPod is continuing to develop. And our relationship with Cisco is continue to develop even further to the point where you guys may be aware or not that in EMEA we kicked off a consumptive converged infrastructure solution with Cisco that we're bringing out globally now with Cisco. Essentially, to complement our Keystone consumptive on-premises solution, there is actually a converged infrastructure, FlexPod-as-a-service solution, that's being offered as well."

NetApp in October introduced its NetApp Keystone cloud consumption model that it said for the first time lets businesses bring the flexibility and the pricing characteristics of the cloud to manage data seamlessly whether it is stored in on-premises data centers, public or private clouds, or multi-cloud environments.

Lamborn was not able to say when FlexPod-as-a-service would be available in North America, but suggested it could be soon. It is expected to be released with support of Cisco Capital and NetApp Capital, he said.

FlexPod-as-a-service has already been rolled out through a couple of partners, and sales are already happening, Lambert said.

Customers of such technology are those who are already looking at on-premises consumption models such as NetApp's new Keystone offering or Hewlett Packard Enterprise's GreenLake offering, he said.

"What you see is an enormous interest from the partners or from the customers of trying to understand if that is a solution that solves their needs financially," he said. "And actually, the adoption rate across all of those is not the same adoption rate you get in your traditional sales cycle. And so it's a longer rollout, particularly in the enterprise. We are working DXC across EMEA, and we're expanding that across more partners as we speak. We work with one of our distributors to also help be the integration arm across that and bring the two pieces together."

NetApp solution providers are looking forward to learning more about FlexPod-as-a-service.

"Of course, FlexPod-as-a-service makes sense," said Glenn Dekhayser, field chief technology officer at Red8, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner.

Dekhayser told CRN that any outcome delivered via capex, or capital expenditure, should be offered as a service.

"Businesses want to consume and utilize the outcome, and not be burdened with the nuts and bolts of day-to-day administration and maintenance and the plumbing of the outcome," he said.

Ned Engelke, chief technology officer at Evotek, a San Diego-based solution provider and NetApp channel partner, said the rolling out of FlexPod-as-a-service is part of a wider trend of moving beyond the capital expenditure-focused technology sale.

Pure Storage started it with its Evergreen Storage subscription service, Engelke said.

"All these vendors are looking at ways to remove the friction of moving gear," he said. "Pure says its arrays can be upgraded just by swapping out the controllers. That's the cheapest part of the array, but it's a brilliant move. No more forklift upgrades. Meanwhile, NetApp is talking about Keystone. FlexPod-as-a-service would be a good solution."

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