Over the past two weeks, Tom Nallen introduced the concept and benefits of the Cisco Validated Design , then Laszlo Bojtos,  illustrated this concept with the Cloud Service Assurance for Virtualized Multi-Services Data Center 2.2 Cisco Validated Design, with a specific emphasis on the integration with Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud .

This week I talked with John Kennedy, a Cisco engineer who put a lot of energy on the FlexPod CVDs.

“So John, what is FlexPod ?
FlexPod is the result of collaboration between NetApp© and Cisco to create a cost-effective, scalable solution for cloud applications as well as standard virtualization support.  The FlexPod(t), a pre-defined, pre-tested solution, includes the compute, networking, and storage customers need in a validated (as in CVD) package. But unlike other validated solutions, FlexPod can be scaled up or out, not just one or the other.

What need does FlexPod address ?
It’s probably been a while since you had to source a motherboard. Many of us have done this in the past, in order to get desktop computer system that met our needs. Pre-configured systems were limited in their abilities, and custom design was beneficial.

But choices of personal computer systems have increased, and most folks don’t need to customize anymore, preferring to buy an entire computer system that’s been tested and designed to meet their needs. On the other hand, customers want to be able to expand the system they have to keep up with new technology, or to add capabilities.

Customers need to support multiple types of applications and have multiple purposes for their infrastructure, and the Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs) for FlexPod reflect that need. The architectures have been validated by engineers from both companies to ensure performance and stability.
But that’s just the beginning. The Cisco Validated Design documents include multiple configurations with multiple types of application and operating systems 

That means that FlexPod supports more than VMware VSphere?

Absolutely. Customer with requirements for Cloud can utilize the FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud CVD. For virtual desktops, CVDs are available for both Citrix and VMware VDI. FlexPod designs support of VMware vSphere, RedHat, and Microsoft Windows Server, giving customers the ability to integrate the FlexPod into the infrastructure they already have, rather be forced to invest in a new one.

A number of different application use cases have already been pre-tested with the FlexPod, from Oracle RAC to SharePoint to Exchange to SAP, so customers can have confidence that their investment in FlexPod will yield the results they seek.

What about flexibility of design? Does FlexPod use only NFS ?

Some customers like IP based storage, some like traditional FC, and some want cutting edge FCoE. FlexPod offers a solution for each. FlexPod with IP Based Storage allows customers to create iSCSI and/or NFS based solutions…

…while the traditional FlexPod deployment guide offers FCoE and/or NFS.

Some customers prefer the ease of installation of compute blades, while others prefer rack mounted servers , which provide the ability to scale one server at a time. With Cisco UCS C series integration now included in the FlexPod, both customers can have the pre-validated FlexPod of their choice.

But John, doesn’t flexibility bring complication,and therefore additional risk ?

This flexibility allows cost control and efficiency of resource allocation. But it can be complicated, and most customers don’t have time or resources to validate the best configuration for their needs. That’s why the Cisco Validated Designs come with deep technical guidance, and in many cases step-by-step instruction. Following this guidance promises to yield an expected level of performance and reliability, saving customers time and reducing risk.

So FlexPod is not a one size fits all solution , then?

One size never seems to fit all. One size tends to fit some. Those who can afford to will have their clothes customer made, but most of us live in an off-the-rack world. We can do that when there are many sizes and styles to choose from. FlexPod supports that design pattern, giving customer choices from large to small, IP to Block, virtualized to bare metal. But all are tested to ensure quality, and design for ease of installation and low risk.

Where can I find out more ?

See for yourself at the FlexPod solutions page. You will find the recent Flexpod CVDs such as

And stay tuned for more, because the FlexPod teams are constantly improving and adding new designs! ”

Also as a reminder, we wrote several time about Flexpod, including some success stories – Check out the blogs written on Flexpod.

I will come back soon with other interesting designs . Meanwhile tell us if you like or not this series of blog on CVD for Cloud .