Cisco, NetApp announce pre-configured platform for SMBs

ExpressPod fills out a mid-sized storage network offering for the Cisco, NetApp partnership

NetApp and Cisco this week revealed ExpressPod, a new, converged infrastructure for small and medium-sized organizations based on its predecessor, FlexPod.

NetApp and Cisco this week revealed ExpressPod, a new converged infrastructure for small and medium-sized organizations based on its predecessor, FlexPod.

Cisco ONE is on track

ExpressPod fills out a mid-sized offering the partnership had been lacking.

Additionally, Cisco and NetApp will announce new storage clustering capabilities to FlexPod and the release of a validated VMware solution for the Oracle Real Application Cluster (RAC) on FlexPod.

ExpressPod, a prepackaged and tested architecture for SMB's includes FlexPod's new storage clustering and RAC capabilities.

ExpressPod integrates Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System) C-Series servers, NetApp FAS2220 or FAS2240 (Fabric-Attached Storage) arrays, and Cisco Nexus 3048 switches with infrastructure management. ExpressPod supports an open ecosystem of management and hypervisors.

The FAS 2220 supports 12 internal drives and up to 144 external SAS expansion slots and has a maximum capacity of 180TB. The FAS2240 supports a maximum of 24 internal hard drives and up to 144 external expansion slots for a maximum capacity of 432TB. The FAS 2220 supports iSCSI, NFS and CIFS, and the FAS 2240 adds Fibre Channel to that mix.

FlexPod also now features support and validation for VMware vSphere on NetApp Data ONTAP 8 operating in Cluster-Mode. User organizations can add nodes to their storage cluster creating large storage pools that span storage devices and can scale almost infinitely, NetApp stated.

The storage pool resources can be dynamically allocated and securely isolated to support multi-tenancy. NetApp storage clustering also enables nondisruptive data migration of hundreds of virtual machines at a time to facilitate load balancing, system maintenance and device upgrades without interrupting the running applications.

In 2010, NetApp announced the first iteration of its pre-configured architecture, FlexPod. That FlexPod model was a pre-configured and certified storage network for user groups of 1,000 to 2,000 people. FlexPod comes with a NetApp FAS3210 midrange array, Cisco's UCS blade server and a Nexus switch and VMware's vSphere platform and vCenter management console.

Last spring, NetApp announced an entry-level FlexPod configuration designed to support from 500 to 1,000 end users.

The entry-level FlexPod combines the NetApp FAS2240 storage array and the Cisco UCS C-Series Nexus 5000 Switches, the Nexus 2232 Fabric Extender and the Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects. The Fabric Interconnects provide the management and communication backbone for the Cisco UCS B-Series Blades and Cisco UCS 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis.

EMC was the first company to begin offering bundled storage, server and networking solutions. Its vBlock architecture is a combination of products brought together through its VCE partnership with Cisco and VMware, an EMC subsidiary. NetApp followed suit with its FlexPod offering. Like EMC, NetApp signed a deal with Cisco for its UCS platform.

Other options from big vendors include Hewlett-Packard's VirtualSystem and Dell's vStart bundles.

In addition to the established storage and systems vendors, a number of startups are creating preconfigured systems. Examples include SimpliVity's OmniCube, Scale Computing's HC3 and Nutanix's Complete Cluster.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

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