• Single platform from industry leaders in networking, computing and storage
  • Pretested, validated solution platform to reduce risk and increase efficiencies
  • Flexible IT architecture for today’s needs, yet scales for future growth
  • Cooperative Support model for efficient and streamlined resolution

What is FlexPod?

FlexPod™ is a pretested data center solution built on a flexible, scalable, shared infrastructure from Cisco Unified Computing System servers and Cisco Nexus switches, and NetApp unified storage systems running Data ONTAP. FlexPod components are integrated and standardized to help you eliminate the guesswork and achieve timely, repeatable, consistent deployments. FlexPod has been optimized with a variety of mixed application workloads and design configurations in various environments such as virtual desktop infrastructure and secure multi-tenancy environments.

Enterprises and service providers alike need a tested, cost-effective data center solution that supports both virtualized and non-virtualized resources; that can be easily implemented in large IT environments and that can be managed within existing infrastructures and scale without disruption to meet future cloud computing objectives. FlexPod™, jointly developed by NetApp and Cisco, is a flexible infrastructure platform composed of pre-sized storage, networking, and server components. It’s designed to ease your IT transformation from virtualization to cloud computing with maximum efficiency and minimal risk.

FlexPod™ differs from other virtualization solutions by providing:

  • Integrated, validated technologies from industry leaders and top-tier software partners
  • A single platform, built from unified compute, fabric, and storage technologies, that lets you scale to large-scale data centers without architectural changes
  • Centralized, simplified management of infrastructure resources, including end-to-end automation
  • A choice of validated FlexPod management solutions from trusted partners who work through our open APIs
  • A flexible cooperative support model that resolves issues rapidly and spans across new and legacy products
FlexPod components in detail

FlexPod includes the following components in a standardized configuration that supports up to 1,500 users for a typical set of mixed enterprise application workloads. This integrated solution can significantly reduce your capital and operating expenses through end-to-end virtualization and higher efficiencies at each layer.

  • Cisco Unified Computing System is a data center platform that is designed to eliminate time-consuming manual configuration, reduce TCO, and increase business agility. UCS combines compute, network, storage access, and virtualization into a scalable, modular system that is easily managed as a single entity by Cisco UCS Manager. The radically simplified architecture greatly reduces the number of devices that must be purchased, configured, managed, and secured. Service profile templates enable automatic, policy-based hardware configuration and deployment for large, stateless computing environments. The highly efficient UCS extended memory technology also reduces memory requirements by up to 60%.
  • Cisco Nexus® data center switches use award-winning Unified Fabric technology to identify and consolidate all network traffic onto a single simplified, cost-effective architecture. Nexus switches offer “zero-touch” installation, automatic configuration, and excellent scalability, including in-service upgrades. A single point of policy management also increases efficiency, availability, and security.
  • NetApp FAS systems reduce cost and complexity for virtualized infrastructures by meeting all of your storage requirements with a single, highly scalable solution. NetApp’s unified storage platform supports all protocols so you no longer need to purchase separate systems to accommodate different storage needs. You can slash capacity use by up to 50% with built-in deduplication and thin provisioning, as well as space-efficient backup and cloning. NetApp systems also enhance operational efficiency with automated storage management, data protection, and security, and optimize performance with 10GbE or FCoE.

Why FlexPod?

IT departments of all sizes are increasingly challenged by data center complexity and inflexibility. Rapidly proliferating silos of server, storage, and networking resources, combined with countless management tools and operational processes, have led to crippling inefficiencies and costs. Savvy organizations understand the financial and operational benefits of moving from infrastructure silos to a converged, virtualized environment. However, many organizations hesitate to make the transition because of potential short-term business disruptions and long-term architectural inflexibility that can impede scalability and responsiveness to business changes.

FlexPod has been pretested and jointly validated with popular hypervisors,
operating systems, applications, and infrastructure software, including:

  • VMware® View and vSphere
  • Citrix XenDesktop
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux® (RHEL)
  • Oracle®
  • SAP®
  • Microsoft® Exchange, SQL Server®, and SharePoint®
  • Microsoft Private Cloud built on FlexPod

FlexPod can be optimized to support several of these workloads simultaneously. NetApp and Cisco have also jointly developed reference architectures—several of them Cisco Validated Designs, with prescriptive sizing guides—to help you integrate and flex the solution to meet your specific requirements for a number of critical environments.

Reference environments

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
FlexPod is an easy-to-deploy, self-contained virtual desktop solution in a rack. Its modular design facilitates rapid, repeatable deployment of thousands of virtual desktops. FlexPod integrates with, and is optimized for, VMware View
and Citrix XenDesktop. A virtual desktop solution built on FlexPod provides unmatched price/performance. You gain extreme efficiencies by deduplicating up to 90% of redundant user and OS data, and I/O performance can be accelerated by up to 50% with NetApp® cache acceleration technology (Flash Cache). The extended memory technology of Cisco® Unified Computing System™ provides the industry’s greatest number of VMs per core density.

Development and test
FlexPod enables rapid provisioning and deprovisioning of virtual resources, making it an ideal platform for development and test environments. NetApp FlexClone® software facilitates rapid dev/test setup with cloning technology that lets you deploy thousands of space-efficient VMs for new projects in minutes, accelerating time to production and time to market. Resources can be easily cloned and redeployed, reducing preparation time for other initiatives such as DR testing. FlexPod high compute and storage consolidation ratios and utilization levels also enable you deploy development and test environments on a denser infrastructure that reduces space requirements and capital costs.

Business and disaster recovery
FlexPod can be configured with integrated data protection software to provide fast recovery from system, site, and regional outages for business continuity. The combination of NetApp MetroCluster™ and SnapMirror® with Cisco UCS™ Manager and WAAS offers automated monitoring and failover, as well as cost-effective replication to a secondary site for continuous protection against unplanned downtime. Our solution also lets you move virtual server and storage resources and data nondisruptively across hardware to eliminate planned downtime.

Secure multi-tenancy and secure separation
FlexPod leverages the Cisco SAFE architecture and NetApp MultiStore® technology to deliver the industry’s only secure multi-tenancy architecture1. Secure multi-tenancy enables each tenant – application, business unit, or customer – to be securely isolated within the FlexPod environment. Secure multi-tenancy provides the data separation and service-level guarantees offered by application silos, while delivering the efficiencies of a converged, virtualized infrastructure. FlexPod also securely separates nonvirtualized workloads across the data center. 2SMT has undergone and
passed several security compliance tests PCI Compliance validation, FISMA certification
and ICSA Audit.


FlexPod can be scaled up or down and then duplicated in modular fashion to fit your capacity needs. For example, large enterprises or service providers with mature IT processes and rapid growth expectations can deploy and scale out one or more FlexPod configurations to:

  • Transition to a converged infrastructure with many applications
  • Improve agility to meet growth and business initiatives
  • Lower the cost per user without sacrificing scalability
  • Reduce operational skills, processes, and costs
  • Deploy dedicated software as a service, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and business-critical applications
  • Securely separate multi-tenant environments for virtualized workloads alongside non-virtualized ones

FlexPod can also be used as a cost-effective starting point for infrastructure consolidation and virtualization solutions. Organizations can then scale up storage and compute pool capacity or performance within a FlexPod configuration while maintaining centralized management. They can also scale to a larger FlexPod configuration with a clearly defined upgrade path that leverages all existing components and management processes for smooth growth and superior investment protection.


FlexPod includes a simplified, flexible, cooperative support model that is coordinated among NetApp, Cisco, and VMware. The joint support model offers global, 24/7 support with streamlined response from technical experts, and it spans across new and legacy products from each company for maximum flexibility. It also includes a Cooperative Support Lab designed to replicate and rapidly resolve complex customer issues, leveraging onsite experts and state-of-the-art equipment from all three vendors. NetApp and Cisco extend world-class technical support to a broad range of FlexPod customer environments by partnering with other hypervisor, application, and management vendors through the Technical Support Alliance Network (TSANet).

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