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A FlexPod Brief…

2012-05-02T22:31:06+00:00 May 2nd, 2012|Uncategorized|

With the rise of virtualization over the last several years, there’s one large segment of Information Technology that has been struggling to keep up with the demand – your organization’s data center. 

Not So Long Ago…

IT infrastructure used to be built and deployed using distributed technology and components on an application-by-application basis.  That philosophy worked well because most IT teams were organized in silos that segmented applications, servers, local area networks, and storage groups.

As more applications were required across multiple departments, that infrastructure development strategy became far less efficient.  Server sprawl become a serious concern as more and more servers were required to deliver software solutions.  It took longer to build and deploy environments.  It also turned the data center into one of the least “green” places in an organization due to the immense power requirements needed to power the core infrastructure.

Virtualization changed much of that in the last few years by re-imagining a consolidated data center that significantly reduced the number of servers required to deliver Tier 1 applications for the enterprise.  The result is a more flexible, easier to manage environment that has reduced power demands.  Building this type of infrastructure can be very simple when you use a building-block solution like FlexPod.

A New Approach…

Introduced a little over two years ago, FlexPod offers a set of validated infrastructure designs that allow you to build a robust data center with a very dense infrastructure footprint confined in a small amount of space.  The FlexPod system is built around a baseline configuration that includes servers and switches from Cisco, high-performance storage from NetApp, and virtualization components from Citrix, VMware, or Microsoft, depending on your Hypervisor preference.

All FlexPod solutions begin with a standard – but flexible – blueprint which can be modified to suit your organization’s unique needs.  This base configuration can be scaled quickly to meet any number of infrastructure needs, but FlexPod truly shines in the virtualization space.

Because all three components of FlexPod are tightly integrated, supporting FlexPod is considerably simpler than with a traditional server model.  All patches, upgrades, and enhancements are pre-tested to ensure they work seamlessly during implementation.  This reduces risk during critical updates and time required when performing basic maintenance tasks.

What Cisco Brings…

Cisco has done a phenomenal job of leveraging their popular Unified Computing System (UCS) platform to serve as the backbone of the FlexPod environment.  Cisco’s new B- and C- Class series servers significantly increase performance and capacity for large data-heavy virtualized environments by serving up a whopping 384GB (and even more in some models) of memory per blade server.  Cisco’s UCS M81KR Virtual Interface Card improves network throughput performance by 38% over similar software-based switches, and reduces cost by performing as both a network interface care and a host bus adapter.  The result is the elimination of key bottlenecks that directly impacted performance on virtual servers.

Cisco also includes the Unified Computing System Manager (UCS-M) as part of the FlexPod environment.  This provides for management of all software and hardware in the stack.  UCS-M also offers flexible role and policy-based management of the entire environment using services profiles.  Resources can be placed in pools, and service profiles can be used to help speed up time to market for key deployments.

The NetApp Piece…

NetApp provides a huge boost to the FlexPod environment by offering a wide array of software aimed at maximizing storage.  NetApp’s de-duplication process drives the cost of storage down dramatically by intelligently writing only truly unique data to its drives.  Using its FlexClone technology, users can quickly provision new environment for use in development, testing, or disaster recovery.  Innovations like NetApp’s FlexCache technology allow high-demand data to be segregated from data in its main repositories to ensure for quick access and maximum performance.

Greater Than The Sum…

Add this all up and it’s clear that FlexPod is a real game changer.  Whether your organization is looking to reduce its footprint in the data center, drive better performance it its virtualized environments, or simplify the management of the data center, FlexPod’s certainly a technology worth keeping an eye on.