January 17, 2021

Cisco, NetApp Beef Up FlexPod, ExpressPod For Branch-To-Cloud Scalability

News-Cisco and NetApp on Thursday unveiled enhancements to their jointly developed FlexPod reference architecture they said will help scale the solution from the cloud to the branch office.


The enhancements will result in a broader solution provider and services provider market for the FlexPod converged infrastructure solution, which ties server, storage and networking resources under a unified management system, said Rick Snyder, vice president of Cisco’s Global and Strategic Partner Organization.


“We believe this will result in an infrastructure that can be used to connect the branch office, the data center and the cloud,” Snyder said.


Brendon Howe, vice president of products and solutions marketing at NetApp, said FlexPod is a combination of best-of-breed storage technology from NetApp and server and networking technology from Cisco along with a validated reference architecture.


FlexPod is not a product, but is instead a reference architecture that provides a large degree of flexibility in configuring storage solutions based on NetApp storage and Cisco networking and UCS server technology.


About 700 channel partners have deployed FlexPod-based solutions to over 2,100 customers worldwide, Howe said.


“We’re now looking at how to get more business momentum,” he said. “We’re looking at new ways to go to market, and at new ways to reach out to branch offices and the cloud. I look at it as going deep and going broad.”


The scalability of FlexPod is being enhanced in a number of ways. The solution can now be configured with up to 10,000 servers thanks to Cisco’s UCS Central management platform, compared to a previous limit of 160 servers. Those servers can now sit in multiple racks connected with multihop Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connectivity.


“With 10,000 servers, we are moving into the service provider landscape,” Snyder said. “We couldn’t do that before.”


FlexPod now also allows the management of high-speed flash storage simultaneously on both the storage side and server side, Howe said. On the storage side, that includes NetApp’s flash caching technology, which is a part of the NetApp Ontap storage operating system, as well as Flash Accel, which manages multivendor flash technology including those of Fusion-io and LSI, which are flash partners of Cisco.


“We’re pulling these layers together with common management,” he said.