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Cisco, NetApp stock FlexPod

New additions address disaster recovery, orchestration and automation, and Citrix

Cisco and NetApp have expanded their three year FlexPod partnership to address disaster recovery, scalable cloud infrastructure, orchestration and automation, and multi-hypervisor support. The Cisco/NetApp FlexPod is an integrated reference architecture that provides a schematic on how to combine Cisco servers and switching with NetApp storage, and other "best-of-breed" components into an IT stack. 

This is contrasted with Cisco's VCE joint venture with EMC, which offers an integrated infrastructure of Cisco servers and switching with EMC storage and VMware hypervisors. VCE's Vblocks are not reference schematics but pre-integrated data center systems with ingredients from the two founding vendors. 

[SPLINTER GROUP?: Cisco gets closer to NetApp, further from VCE]

Some believe Cisco should acquire NetApp, a consideration that's been around for years and reiterated this week.

While the industry ponders that again, Cisco and NetApp are introducing four new FlexPod components. One includes integration of FlexPod Datacenter, which is targeted at enterprise cores and services providers, with NetApp's MetroCluster software.

MetroCluster is designed to provide end-to-end disaster recovery by combining array-based clustering with synchronous mirroring for continuous availability and zero data loss. It is intended to provide transparent recovery from failures and eliminate repetitive change management activities to reduce the risk of human error.

The second new FlexPod component is the combination of Cisco's Virtualized Multiservice Data Center 2.3 design and implementation guidelines with FlexPod Datacenter. VMDC recommends practices and procedures for enable building scalable cloud infrastructures.

The third new FlexPod offering is "deep integration" of Cisco's UCS Director 4.1 - formerly, Cloupia --  with NetApp's clustered Data ONTAP. UCS Director is a single-view orchestration and automation tool, and Data ONTAP is designed to provide single-system image across NetApp storage nodes.

The end result of this integration is end-to-end, policy-based administration and automation of FlexPod, including rebalancing capacity and workload in real-time.  

The fourth addition is the inclusion of Citrix in the FlexPod Cooperative Support program. This adds Citrix XenDesktop, XenServer and CloudPlatform engineering expertise to FlexPod support to address any operational issues enterprises might have in deploying the technologies. 

Citrix joins Microsoft System Center, VMware vCenter Orchestrator, CA Automation Suite for Clouds, and BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager in the FlexPod Cooperative Support program.

Additional features of FlexPod highlighted this week by Cisco and NetApp are validation of the latest UCS platform built on Intel's Ivy Bridge chip set; supports for Cisco's UCS Central multidomain management system, which lets IT managers validate configuration of and control a globally distributed UCS infrastructure comprised of multiple domains; and support for VMware's vSphere 5.5 virtual machine management software.

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