Cisco, NetApp To Help Small Customers Move To Cloud

NetApp and Cisco recently announced plans to extend FlexPod with a series of pre-validated design architectures priced and sized for smaller workloads. Manu Bansal, Vice President, Advanced Technology Channels, Cisco in an interview with CRN explains the move

Sonal Desai, CRN, May 7, 2012, 1300 hrs

What exactly is the announcement all about?

Cisco and NetApp announced a new entry-level FlexPod reference architecture, an extension to the existing FlexPod solution. The entry-level FlexPod combines the NetApp entry level FAS 2240 and the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) C-Series.  Similar to traditional FlexPod design architectures, it also includes Cisco Nexus 5000 switches, Cisco Fabric Extender Nexus 2232, and Cisco Fabric Interconnect 6200 series.  
Similar to other FlexPod pre-validated solutions, this entry level FlexPod provides greater flexibility and customer choice, supporting multiple hypervisors and business applications to help accelerate deployment of private clouds.
Cisco and NetApp expanded the FlexPod design architecture to meet demands in the market for a solution sized for smaller workloads. Globally, our mutual customers wanted a version for smaller workloads to accelerate deployment of cloud applications across small offices or workgroups.

Cisco is a part of VCE, which is direct competition to NetApp’s Flexpod. How will the two companies co-ordinate? Will the technologies and products not overlap?

VCE has continued strong revenue growth, with bookings exceeding expectations and a growing number of customers are standardized on Vblock platforms for vitalizing their mission critical applications. We are also seeing good response for FlexPod with more than 600 customers, worldwide.

How does the offering actually work?

The FlexPod has a series of new pre-validated design architectures sized for business application workloads with 500 to 1,000 users. The entry-level FlexPod solution allows customers to invest only in the infrastructure they require and allow for simple and rapid scaling to meet growing demands as their business needs change. Cisco and NetApp have also validated several new management solutions from leading software management vendors for all of the FlexPod design architectures.

What does it offer to tier-2 partners?
Some of the most important benefits of FlexPod to our partners include:

  • Rapid time-to-revenue and time-to-deployment:   The pre-tested and pre-validated nature of FlexPod allows partners to deliver a FlexPod solution quickly and with reduced effort.  The integrated stack approach helps close complete deals quickly, with less pre-sales testing and POC effort.
  •  FlexPod deals are larger and more strategic.   On an average 3-5x larger than the average storage deal, FlexPod sales allow partners to capture a larger share of customer budget.
  • Increased opportunities for value-added services:  The strategic nature of FlexPod deployments result in increased service opportunities as well as higher services margins.
  • Reduced risk:  The large existing customer base (with numerous customer references) allows partners deploy FlexPod solutions for their customers with lower risk and greater confidence in positive customer outcomes.  The cooperative support model makes the resolution of any potential issues faster and more efficient.
  • Would you be introducing a new partner program? If so when? What would be the elements?

    The new, smaller FlexPod solution is architecturally and technologically consistent with all other FlexPod configurations.  Information regarding the scale of the new solution, along with details of the smaller components in the solution, will be rolled into existing training and enablement tools alongside the rest of the FlexPod solution information.

    Can you give us a sense of how the offering would be priced?

    We do not disclose pricing of the FlexPod because pricing will vary through the design process and by customer implementation.


    How many customers does Cisco have on VCE, and how many does NetApp have for Flexpod? What happens to them?

    VCE has continued strong revenue growth, with bookings exceeding expectations and a growing number of customers are standardized on Vblock platforms. We are also seeing good response from NetApp customers on the FlexPod with more than 600 customers, worldwide. Cisco UCS has over 11,000 customers, worldwide.  The key industry verticals where Cisco has seen maximum traction are ITeS, Commercial (SMB), FSI, and public sector.


    Will financing options be available to the customers?

    Yes, through Cisco Capital we provide flexible and competitive financing to our customers.


    What kind of technical expertise would a tier-2 partner have to deploy and architect it?

    Our primary route to market is through selected channel partners and global system integrators. Partner qualifications include: Targeted partners that are authorized to resell Cisco UCS, DCNI, DCSN and DCUC; authorized to resell UCS; and authorized virtualization specialists from NetApp.