Published: June 22nd, 2017

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – Ahead of next week’s Cisco Live conference, NetApp is introducing a new FlexPod specific for next generation data centres and for new buyers of this technology.

NetApp released FlexPod seven years in collaboration with Cisco Systems and you can call this alliance a success as it is an $8 billion business today. During that time, more than 8,400 joint Cisco and NetApp customers have a FlexPod sold mostly through the channel. More than 1,100 channel partners currently sell FlexPod. And, there are more than 140 validated designs.

And, now you can include one more design to that mix in FlexPod SF, which stands for SolidFire. The Boulder, Colo.-based SolidFire was all flash-storage vendor that was acquired in 2015 by NetApp. The biggest difference with the new FlexPod SF over other FlexPod models is this one is the first to have an all Cisco hardware stack for converged infrastructure.

Back in 2010, Cisco and NetApp came together to develop FlexPod with Cisco compute and networking and NetApp providing storage and management admin. John Rollason, NetApp’s Senior Director, Products & Solutions Marketing for Next-Generation Data Centre, said back then NetApp was targeting a new segment. After the SolidFire acquisition the company believes there is a new product expansion opportunity to address the concept of the new buyer in the marketplace.

“It may look contrived, but there are new buyers and most are next generation architects. These people do exist and FlexPod needs to address the next generation buyer,” Rollason said.

Anthony Lye, the senior vice president of NetApp’s cloud business said these non-traditional buyers are also cloud architects or line of business decision maker. “Sometimes the customer doesn’t even know anything was purchased from this group,” he said.

The new FlexPod SF is a full Cisco converged infrastructure platform from compute to storage in a whole new mode called the SF 9608. It has been built on the Cisco C220 platform. It is all flash-based and fits into the FlexPod line with FlexPod Express, FlexPod Datacenter, and FlexPod Select.

FlexPod SF also features cloud-connected storage, Cisco Unified Computing System B-Series servers, and Cisco Nexus switching.

Siva Sivakumar, the Senior Director, Data Center Solutions at Cisco, said the IT department is being challenged again with the demand for creating more services for the business just as cloud becomes more mature. On top of that, customers are adopting more hybrid cloud environments and want the flexibility of buying on Capex and Opex. “Customers want to buy in bite size opportunities to grow as demand grows. The way we look at this is digital transformation will have an impact on cloud and the data centre with Dev Ops and micro-services. This will put a lot of burden on the developer of new solutions in a rapid way,” Sivakumar said.

New research from RightScale found that 85 per cent of enterprise IT organization are using or planning to use a multi-cloud strategy, while 58 per cent have an imminent strategy to move to hybrid cloud. And, only one per cent have no cloud plans.

Rollason added that the FlexPod SF will be targeted at data centre platforms, hosting environments in the service provider arena and the emerging market of Dev Ops. It also can look after data-intensive scale-out workloads specific for digital transformation programs.