Lionel Messi just led Argentina to win the World Cup!  How did arguably the best player in the world achieve this?  By always striving to add new capabilities, ball handling techniques, exploring different angles to shoot from, and looking for every possible way to improve his game.  FlexPod, an established converged infrastructure leader comprised of Cisco UCS and NetApp storage, has the same incentive!

Back in 2021, I commented in a BLOG how the pandemic forced companies to move their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments to the cloud overnight, but I questioned if these deployments would stay?  Clearly, there is a trend to move these deployments back to the data center to control costs and enjoy enhanced data security.  This movement also causes a review of previous IT systems for VDI and the software stack deployed.  Previously, I commented on how Cisco’s UCS X-Series Modular System could easily drive VDI workloads managed by Citrix or VMware Horizon.  Now it is time to expand upon that work and provide a complete Cisco Validated Design for FlexPod using X-Series to host Horizon version 8 which Cisco recently added to its price list.

Two VDI “brokers” have the dominate market share, Citrix and VMware Horizon.  A software stack composed of VMware Horizon 8 running on VMware vSphere 7 on a UCS X-Series based FlexPod system would appeal to many VDI customers who are looking to re-host VDI internally or to replace aging infrastructure.  All of the best practices realized are compiled into a new CVD designed to reduce the installation time, improve performance, and provide customers with confidence that FlexPod can be installed correctly the first time leading to realizing system benefits quickly. 

This is the first CVD to combine Cisco UCS X-Series with X210c M6 compute nodes hosting VMware Horizon and vSphere connected to a NetApp AFF A400 storage array. The X210c M6 can be configured with up to two 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.  This design will be further enhanced this Spring with the ability to configure UCS X210c M7 compute nodes using up to two 4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors to offer more processor cores and the opportunity for enhanced performance and efficiency.  Both compute nodes support Nvidia GPUs to reduce the rendering of complex graphics for applications in the manufacturing, media, architectural, and related industries. 

As you can see from the system diagram below, 4th generation UCS Fabric Interconnects, Cisco Nexus MDS and Cisco Nexus 9300 switches enable connectivity between the UCS X-Series chassis, NetApp AFF A400 and the outside world.  The complete solution is managed by Cisco Intersight, a SaaS based management offering that not only provide complete life cycle management and load balancing, but can also monitor your NetApp storage array.   


Let me ask my counterpart at NetApp, Sriram Sagi, Principal Portfolio Product Manager to help us under stand the value the NetApp AFF A400 brings to FlexPod.

“Today’s enterprise workloads must be optimized for running in virtualized and cloud-computing environments, which can offer speed and responsiveness for critical business operations. As a storage leader in the enterprise space, NetApp introduced the all-flash storage system, which can provide organizations with a high-performance, high availability, and cost-effective storage solution that can help to improve the overall efficiency of their IT operations.        

With the introduction of AFF A400 systems, NetApp is offering the power of secure data acceleration, storage efficiency, and higher performance to customer workloads. With this capability, customers can capitalize on the data growth from technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and big data. In addition, the AFF A400 systems can accelerate existing and emerging VDI applications with ultralow latency of end-to-end NVMe storage while offering the benefits of industry-leading cloud integration.

AFF A400 systems are powered by NetApp ONTAP data management software. The ONTAP software offerings with the AFF A400 deliver the highest performance, increased flexibility to acquire software, enhanced data services, and superior cloud integration. Now you can accelerate, manage, and protect your business-critical data in a hybrid cloud environment. With the ONTAP system manager, customers can accomplish critical storage tasks and optimize workflows in a simplified GUI interface. FlexPod with AFF A400 is positioned to solve the most common VDI challenges like performance, availability, cost, and scalability. The all-flash storage with ONTAP delivers proven enterprise reliability and efficiency for thousands of VDI deployments. Thanks for the opportunity to comment John.”

FlexPod continues to invest in new capabilities.  This new design enhanced by Cisco X-Series, VMware Horizon 8, and the latest capabilities of NetApp’s AFF A400 are the new capabilities customers can take advantage of to help ensure their VDI implementation provides leading performance today and can meet tomorrow’s challenges. If your team implements this FlexPod design, they will feel like World Cup champions!



John McAbel

Senior Product Manager

Enterprise Solutions on Cisco UCS