FlexPod SF at Cisco Live US

With the introduction of FlexPod® SF, Cisco and NetApp have jointly developed a new Cisco Validated Design based on VMware vSphere 6.5. What makes this FlexPod solution uniquely capable of jumpstarting VMware environments is the new Cisco-based SF9608 storage nodes powered by NetApp® SolidFire® Element® OS9. Combining Cisco’s UCS C220 with Element OS gives traditional FlexPod compute and networking a whole new set of VMware capabilities that offer new ways to liberate operations, consolidate silos, and realize the software-defined data center (SDDC) you envision.


Software Defined in a Storage Appliance (Node) Changes Everything

Can a new storage platform in the form of a NetApp SolidFire node on Cisco C220 really jumpstart and deliver VMware’s Software Defined Data Center? Let’s explore how visionaries describe  software defined.


Steve Herrod first delivered a vision of the VMware Software Defined Data Center in May of 2012. “Compute, storage, networking, security, and availability services are pooled, aggregated, and delivered as software, and managed by intelligent, policy-driven software.”


Raghu Raguram, SVP of SDDC at VMware, said it best at VMworld 2011 and again at 2017 EMEA The data center is on its way to becoming programmable and automated.”.


FlexPod SF delivers the programmability and automation that VMware envisioned.


Server Virtualization Becomes VMware Private Cloud

Server virtualization is about P2V, getting tier 1 apps on virtual machines, consolidation ratios, and integration with infrastructure ops tools. The vast majority of VMware organization continues to be in the Server Virtualization mode. FlexPod Datacenter addresses that mode very well. VMware Private Cloud emerges from that with the following:


  • Definition: VMware Private Cloud (Remember Raghu Raguram’s words: “programmable and automated.”)
    • Is not about how extensive your tech feature sets are.
    • Is about the abstraction of unique capabilities to VMs and app builders without traditional infrastructure team provisioning.
    • Is about extending not just generic but unique and meaningful capabilities to those who  want to build VMs and apps. (Performance profiles [QoS] is just one example.)
    • Is about being API programmable for future automation.
    • Is about consumption of FlexPod resources at the speed of the next Fortune 10.

Invisible Integrations

Here’s where the last 10 years of infrastructure integrations come together. Building VMs and apps gets streamlined with granular and policy-based capabilities because of VASA, VVols, SPBM, and vRealize Orchestrator. Click, select, enter the quantity, and the build happens instantly behind the scenes.

VMware-Centric Operators

Build VMs directly with vCenter and ecosystem tools while using a self-service catalog via vRealize Automation to build apps with granular policies to choose from. The focus is on maximum leverage of plug-ins and APIs  to deliver ease of use.


Operations driven through vCenter are powered by integrations and plug-ins to build VMs rapidly. Watch the VCenter demo below or read Doug Chamberlain’s latest blog to learn more about the latest NetApp SolidFire vCenter Plug-In.



The SolidFire PowerShell Tools is a collection of Microsoft Windows PowerShell functions that use the SolidFire APIs to control a SolidFire storage system. These functions allow administrators to query for information, make changes to objects in a storage system, and develop complex scripts on a single platform. Users can implement this module with other modules and snap-ins, such as VMware PowerCLI and Cisco UCS PowerTool, to extend capabilities throughout the infrastructure. Watch the SolidFire Tools for PowerShell demo.


Storage Policy Based Management

VMware vSphere Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) is a framework that allows administrators to create policies that represent the capabilities of their storage infrastructure. SolidFire VVol capabilities are integrated into SPBM, as previously blogged. Watch the whiteboard conversation and take a Storage Field Day in-depth walkthrough.



vRealize Automation

Designed for application builders, FlexPod SF enables apps to have a whole new set of granular, elastic capabilities without any data migration. Build 2 MongoDB VMs or 200. Capabilities like QoS-driven performance profiles deliver IOPS to the app without having to manage tiers or move data. Watch the webinar walkthrough and demo.



Bringing it all together: Read the blog “vRA + SPBM + VVols = VMware Private Cloud.”


Five Key Takeaways

SF9608 nodes bring scale out and VMware granular capabilities to FlexPod

What’s changed with this FlexPod version? The SF9608 – Cisco UCS + Element OS = a true software-defined storage appliance. It’s not illegal to say that an appliance is software defined. In fact, read Steve Herrod’s and Raghu Raguram’sstatements about Software defined. The SF9608 nodes deliver a level of programmability to FlexPod not previously available. #1.

Convergence of Workloads

Drive more IT convergence. FlexPod SF offers new capabilities to converge workloads into a single elastic pool of resources. You can depend on QoS to keep workloads from contending with each other, and you’ll benefit from all available resources instead of silos for apps.


Convergence of VMware Operations and Administration

FlexPod has always been a pioneer of the convergence of hardware and validated solutions. However, the VMware operations have never been VMware vCenter focused as an alternative or as a complement to Cisco UCS Director and tools. FlexPod SF delivers the ability to be agile because you can leverage policy automation to  build completely in VMware tools. Combining these VMware tools makes FlexPod SF  the VM and app builder’s most versatile solution.

Welcome to FlexPod SF VMware Private Cloud

Here’s the new formula;

With these new capabilities, the SDDC frees IT from the museums of past decisions and enables you to deliver at the speed of business.

Engage Your Channel Partner Today!

FlexPod SF is delivered through NetApp’s amazing network of partners. More than 130 certified FlexPod Premium solution and service providers worldwide design solutions that meet customers’ needs and the demands of enterprise applications. These resellers are highly trained and knowledgeable professionals who are skilled in delivering:

    • Dedicated consulting, implementation, and services in the development of private or hybrid cloud infrastructures
    • VMware competencies
    • First-call managed services
    • Specialization in the healthcare, government, education, corporate, and professional services sectors and medium to large organizations

Engage a channel partner today and get under way!

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