Cisco and NetApp Seek Cloud Unity in FlexPod

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Cisco and NetApp continue to improve the FlexPod system as each company recognizing the rising need for FlexPod to become a unifying tool in the management of private infrastructure and public cloud environments.

flexpodCisco Systems Inc. and NetApp Inc. are deepening their collaborative ties with an expansion of the FlexPod Architecture, designed to help link together disparate branch offices, data centers and public cloud infrastructures. Cisco and NetApp have an eye on "next generation cloud solutions" and are looking to leverage the FlexPod system to help unify the data centers and keep both users and solution providers more tightly connected to all cloud resources.

To achieve this goal, Cisco and NetApp have introduced the following enhancements:

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  • Deeper FlexPod Integration: Now supporting to 10,000 servers, FlexPod racks can be aggregated "to enable multihop Fiber Channel over Ethernet," and interoperates with the latest management tools, including CIsco's UCS Manager 2.1, Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud and Cisco's newly acquired Cloupia capabilities. With additional "platform level" improvements, systems like Citrix System Inc's CitrixCloud platform and Microsoft Corp's  System Center can leverage FlexPod for more large-scale cloud orchestration
  • Cloud Service Provider Support: To address the growing racks of solutions cloud providers are now managing, FlexPod has been enabled to link into NetApp Clustered ONTAP and NetApp FAS storage systems using Cisco Nexus 7000 switches for dynamically provisioned storage pools. FlexPod will also ink into Cisco's Virtualized Multiservice Data Center architecture to help link together as many resource endpoints as possible.
  • Branch Office Capabilities: ExpressPod will now be equipped with many of FlexPod's improvements, including virtualization support for VMware Sphere and "soon" support for Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V.
  • Expanded Validation: A unifying solution is only as good as the apps and platforms it support, thus Cisco and NetApp have now validated Oracle Database and apps, SAP BusinessObjects and the SAP HANA platform in addition to Citrix CloudPlatform and Microsoft's own private cloud offerings.

Worth noting: In October 2012, Cisco and NetApp launched ExpressPod, looking to drive more value into the FlexPod platform for its partners by making it more appealing and scalable for mid-market customers. At the time, Cisco and NetApp attested that 660 FlexPod partners had joined the fold -- a jump up from the paltry 22 partners in June 2012. But with this latest endeavor  Cisco and NetApp have seen those numbers rise only slightly, with "over 700" partners now working with FlexPod solutions.

The FlexPod duo also boasts 2,100 FlexPod customers globally, but it's clear both companies are looking for more, which may explain additional motivation behind this latest FlexPod venture.

To be fair, Cisco and NetApp are on track with this technology -- creating a common cloud denominator is a great way to take existing cloud infrastructure and connect in a way that makes it a more extensible and powerful environment. And perhaps more interestingly, these efforts echo many of the sentiments made at the Red Hat partner conference, which focused on uniting the public, private and hybrid cloud environments.

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