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FlexPod: The Converged Infrastructure Swiss Army Knife for Your Data Center

More than a hundred years ago (1880), the Swiss army no longer wanted to send its soldiers into the field with a multitude of individual tools such as knives, saws, screwdrivers (for dismantling rifles), can openers, and awls, because they were cumbersome, time consuming, and ultimately easy to lose. This problem led to the idea of designing an extremely practical, resilient, and flexible multi-tool that would support soldiers in their daily exercises and any military tasks. Thus the validated Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox was born, and it has since been developed further in many variants.

We see similar requirements in the adventure of digital transformation, which has drastically changed the way companies serve markets with their products or services. When you look at the number of applications, frameworks, and software variants in IT, it quickly becomes clear that, as with a complex adventure, you can no longer use a multitude of tools in cumbersome silo architectures. A kind of Swiss Army Knife for IT is needed.

This is where flexible converged infrastructures come into play. IDC recently conducted a survey to evaluate the usability and market acceptance of these converged infrastructure architectures—in particular, FlexPod® from NetApp and Cisco. Both the operational and the economic characteristics were considered. According to the study, the concept of converged infrastructures for IT architectures is highly relevant and useful, especially in regard to all topics around digital transformation, like hybrid cloud environments, artificial intelligence, or new ERP systems.

According to the IDC study, the most important features for a multi-tool like converged infrastructure are:

  • High availability. The converged infrastructure solution must have built-in fault tolerance that guarantees maximum availability of applications.
  • Rapid deployment. The system should enable a faster rollout of new applications and services.
  • High performance. The solution must support flash drives, graphics processing units (GPUs), and memory classes to enable high-performance applications such as databases and analytics.
  • All-flash arrays for sustainable and predictable performance. Because of the increased requirement profiles (for example, for AI/ML), all-flash arrays for workloads have become necessary for many enterprise applications.
  • Software-defined infrastructure. Companies are increasingly demanding software-defined compute, storage, and networking; converged infrastructure models must take this concept into account.
  • Automation. The solution should provide mature software that assists IT administrators in automating complex or repetitive tasks such as backup, migration, replication, or resource provisioning through a self-service portal.
  • Integration with multiple public clouds. The solution should support the right protocols and APIs to enable it to work with various public cloud service providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and so on.
  • Common data structure for private and public clouds. As the hybrid cloud becomes the gold standard for cloud implementation, there must be a unified data structure that seamlessly connects all public and private clouds. Such a common data structure will provide complete visibility, data mobility, robust security, easy management, and a significant improvement in return on investment (ROI).

FlexPod exceeds the requirements set forth by IDC, helping companies to survive the new “adventures” in the market.

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