NetApp and Cisco reshape FlexPod for hybrid cloud

NetApp logo
NetApp logo

Cisco and NetApp have mapped out a hybrid cloud future for their decade old FlexPod platform.

The firms are pitching the FlexPod XCS as a single “automated platform for modern applications, data and hybrid cloud services”.

In practice, this means adding hybrid cloud connectivity to on-prem FlexPods, together with increased automation, and unified visibility of FlexPod components and including an “as a service” procurement and consumption model. XCS is described as “natively integrated across all three major public cloud providers”.

The key to all of this is the full integration of the FlexPod line with Cisco’s Intersight hybrid cloud ops platform.

Siva Sivakumar, vice president for Cisco Computing and Solutions product management, explained that Intersight already provides access to the storage elements of the FlexPod platform.

“What we are bringing on top of that integration is bringing FlexPod as a first class citizen within Intersight through automation. So you can go into Intersight, and … you could claim your existing FlexPod that has been deployed in the past and create a Stack View.”

“So you can actually look at your combined FlexPod real estate through the Intersight pane of glass,” he explained. “And you can do inventory, you can do health checks, look at performance capacity alarms, those types of things.” The same platform will then provide automated day one and beyond management of the system, with a cloud-like experience.  It seems that systems up to two years old, possibly, three, can be “claimed” under the program, as well as yet to be launched systems.

NetApp’s vp and general manager for hybrid cloud infrastructure and OEM solutions, Mike Arterbury, said the “deep integration into Intersight allows you to not just click through to NetApp’s tooling, but to actually see the entirety of the estate and act on it through a single pane of glass, even out to the public cloud.”

By leveraging NetApp’s ONTAP and its Astra Kubernetes orchestration technology, “you can create and provision a persistent data store for containerized applications. You’re going to be able… to build using the same familiar tooling of ONTAP in a private cloud, in Flexpod or a public cloud in the hyperscalers.”

Arterbury said systems in the revamped line, like earlier generations, would be built for particular use cases. Initial targets include: business continuity, for example, by enabling a hot replica in the cloud; application development, with apps being developed and tested in the public cloud, then run on scale on prem;  and, thirdly, backup and recovery.

The XCS is currently in pilot, with general availability expected in the summer. When systems do begin hitting the market, they will be available under a cloud like opex purchasing model with a promised “low bar of entry”, with the ability to burst up as needed – whether that’s to over-provisioned on prem capacity in the first instance, and into the cloud as necessary.