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Converged Infrastructure: A Catalyst for Organizational Transformation

The increasing pace with which business data and new applications are being created in today’s fast paced world, combined with the complexity of existing datacenter infrastructure have left most datacenter staff overburdened and unable to keep up with business demands. IDC research repeatedly tells us that IT staff spend approximately 80% of their time just maintaining existing infrastructure or simply “keeping the lights on” – hardly a way to drive innovation.

To propel both innovation and agility, datacenter infrastructure must focus on improving operational and capital efficiencies. Converged systems have proven to be an excellent fit for addressing the challenges that are overwhelming datacenters and the staff that run them. Indeed, converged systems has become a key tool for IT organizations looking to spend more time on innovation.

The adoption of converged systems has continued over the years across all industries and company sizes. Total spending on converged systems exceeded $17 billion during the twelve months ending June 30, 2019 — a clear indication that converged systems are filling a pressing datacenter need.

There are many converged infrastructure solutions available to choose from in today’s broad market.  The best solutions are those that satisfy numerous requirements. To start with, a modern converged system should be built with proven technologies and features. Such well tested technologies and features should be combined with capabilities that enable: 

  • Integration with multiple public clouds
  • A common data fabric for private and public clouds
  • Maximum application uptime
  • Faster rollout of new applications and services
  • High-performance applications such as databases or analytics
  • Automation of complex or repetitive tasks
  • The abstraction of hardware with plugins for configuration management or third-party management tools
  • High performance for demanding application response times
  • All flash arrays for sustained and predictable performance

The right converged systems should ultimately allow IT staff to spend time on innovation and forward-looking projects rather than basic, low-value infrastructure maintenance. Importantly, such solutions can often be a catalyst for the type of organizational transformation required to drive new levels of efficiency and agility within the datacenter.

NetApp’s converged systems solution,  FlexPod,  has a long and proven history driven by nearly a decade of joint development between NetApp and Cisco. These two datacenter infrastructure suppliers have created a flexible platform built with tightly integrated, highly automated mission-critical infrastructure (servers, storage, networking and management tools).  Over the past 10 years, both NetApp and Cisco have invested considerable resources in the FlexPod portfolio of solutions, which has helped to keep FlexPod one of the bestselling converged solutions in the world.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, organizations around the world have invested more than $12.2 billion in FlexPod solutions between 2012 and the first half of 2019.

To truly understand how FlexPod is deployed and used in a wide range of workloads and environments, IDC conducted interviews of multiple enterprises. Nearly 60% of companies interviewed had been running FlexPod in production for three years or more and thus are well-positioned to provide feedback related to their FlexPod deployments. In these interviews, respondents identified real-world benefits driven by their FlexPod deployments. Areas of operational efficiency/simplicity and total cost of ownership were also discussed during these interviews.

In the area of operational efficiency and simplicity, FlexPod customers were able to reduce the number of full-time equivalents needed to manage the infrastructure by more than 40%. And even with less staff, the time spent on innovation and new projects increased by 65% while the amount of time spent on administrative tasks — monitoring, troubleshooting, provisioning, and so forth — dropped by about 30%.

Common areas of efficiency gains driven by FlexPod are related to provisioning and scaling, which are obvious strengths of FlexPod solutions. Indeed, FlexPod makes it easy for customers to provision virtual machines, applications, and storage, and it simplifies the task of adding new capacity for compute and storage.

While IT administrators touted how FlexPod delivered operational efficiencies, business leaders are more interested in bottom line benefits. And here as well, FlexPod delivered. Respondents indicated significant reductions to TCO:  83% of FlexPod customers saw savings in costs related to datacenter floor space — and the average amount of savings was 34%. As for staff savings, 76% of respondents decreased costs by an average of 30%. And rounding out the top three areas for savings is power and cooling with 74% of respondents seeing expenses decrease 29% on average.

FlexPod has been at the forefront of infrastructure convergence for nearly a decade. The partnership between NetApp and Cisco has lasted, in part, because both companies have continuously proven the benefits of converged systems like FlexPod to more than 9,000 customers around the world. The current rate of investments in converged systems in general, and FlexPod specifically (250+ person-years of joint engineering and 170+ validated designs), show no signs of slowing down. Thus, customers can continue to rely on the partnership between NetApp and Cisco going forward. Those companies that have deployed FlexPod tell IDC of their high degree of satisfaction.  FlexPod is driving real world benefits including consolidation, implementation of hybrid clouds, and deployment of modern workloads quickly and efficiently.

To learn more, download a copy of the white paper Agile and Efficient — How FlexPod Drives Datacenter Modernization. Click here for more information about the history of FlexPod and joint development efforts between NetApp and Cisco.

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Eric SheppardResearch Vice President, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms and Technologies, IDC
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