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Cisco and NetApp, encouraged by brisk demand for FlexPod, announced today that they are expanding their partnership to bring the converged infrastructure platform to cloud providers and branch offices.
FlexPods are validated, tightly integrated (server, network and storage) converged systems aimed at simplifying IT infrastructure procurement, configuration and deployment for data center operators. The companies claim that since it debuted in late 2010, FlexPod has gained 2,100 customers in over 35 countries. Last spring, Cisco and NetApp launched an entry-level version called ExpressPod.
FlexPod momentum is accelerating, according to ISI Group analysts Brian Marshall and Stephen Patel. They observed that in October 2012, the companies announced that an estimated 1,300 customers had adopted the platform. The addition of over 800 new customers in such a short timeframe suggests "strong momentum for FlexPod/ExpressPod has continued in recent months," they wrote in a research note.
The companies plan to build on that success by expanding the FlexPod line, explained Cisco chief technology and strategy officer Padmasree Warrior.
"Building on that success, we're now expanding our partnership to deliver deeper technology integration and broader solution development across the unified data center for an open, scalable, multicloud infrastructure. Together we can help our customers use their current data center investment to address the challenges of a mobile-cloud era," said Warrior in a statement.
Today, Cisco and NetApp unveiled FlexPod for Cloud Service Providers, comprised of NetApp Clustered ONTAP and NetApp FAS storage systems, UCS servers and Cisco Nexus 7000 switches. Built with massive scalability, automation and manageability in mind, FlexPod for Cloud Service Providers employs Cisco's modularized Virtualized Multiservice Data Center architecture.
The companies hint that along with its customer base, the FlexPod management software ecosystem is also poised to grow.
FlexPod for Cloud Service Providers supports cloud management and orchestration offerings from Cisco - including technology from its acquisition of Cloupia along with Intelligent Automation for Cloud (Cisco IAC) -- and BMC Software, and in due time said the companies, open source providers. FlexPod additionally supports Microsoft System Center and Citrix's CloudStack-powered CloudPlatform.
Cisco and NetApp are also targeting branch offices with an updated ExpressPod line that boasts better interoperability with primary data centers, enabling remote locations to leverage virtualization and cloud services. ExpressPod supports VMware's vSphere virtualization platform. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is in the works.
Overall, the companies report that FlexPod is undergoing a revamp that will extend the entire platform's capabilities. The companies claim that the updates will allow organizations to manage up to 10,000 servers and leverage capabilities like multihop Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCOE).
On the storage front, NetApp will offer enhanced support for flash storage and SSDs. Businesses will be able to exploit support for NetApp Flash Cache and Flash Pools to improve data transfers -- and by extension, app performance -- on FlexPod systems.