FlexPod – a Highly Available Infrastructure for Oracle


FlexPod.pngOracle OpenWorld (OOW) is larger than ever, with 60,000 attendees expected this year. One of the largest technology shows, this one will cover a wealth of topics including Cloud and Big Data, but primarily centered on Business Applications and what’s news for them.  This emphasis on Business applications is what makes this show so important for FlexPod.


FlexPod is the converged infrastructure solution with validated designs that speeds IT infrastructure and application deployment, while reducing cost, complexity and project risk. In the spring at IOUG we talked about specific Oracle validated designs that we’ve developed on FlexPod, and this continued roadmap of validations and new programs for FlexPod continues on. Not long after OOW closes, FlexPod will be announcing new designs for Clouds, as well as FlexPod management enhancements, and the Cooperative Support program. Watch the FlexPodCommunity for this news as it’s released.  With FlexPod, companies can deploy business-critical solutions faster, with less risk, and reduce total cost of IT infrastructure at the same time.


How FlexPod Supports “Business-critical”


The term “Business-critical” gets batted around by vendors, as they do with “Cloud” and “Software defined…” whatever.   In the case of NetApp, it’s important to point out that with the latest enhancements to our #1 storage O/S, Data ONTAP, we are able to deliver the most non-disruptive storage layer for leading business databases and applications such as those from Oracle. FlexPod with clustered Data ONTAP minimizes business disruption through the ability to virtualize and non-disruptively move data volumes across physical systems.  That is, storage systems and system data can be worked on while business databases and applications are still running, thus eliminating storage maintenance windows and planned downtime.


Clustered Data ONTAP offers a unified scale-out storage solution for an adaptable, always-on storage infrastructure that accommodates today’s highly virtualized infrastructures. Organizations can virtualize storage across multiple HA pairs, managed as a single logical pool – and scale easily to tens of petabytes. Support for clustered Data ONTAP further differentiates the FlexPod platform, enabling customers to:


  • Deploy an adaptable IT infrastructure with unmatched flexibility
  • Reduce risk with an always-on environment, optimized for zero planned downtime
  • Achieve unparalleled efficiency and lower TCO with optimized resources


The other part making FlexPod a highly available platform for Oracle is the inherent HA features of the FlexPod solution.  FlexPod is a highly available infrastructure solution, with HA features at all layers of the stack, designed for tier-1 business applications:


  • At the server layer, FlexPod uses the Cisco UCS Blade Servers where blades can be quickly added and discovered and that leverage a highly available boot process.  Installation doesn’t affect other system components, and the chassis itself has redundancy features and configurability.
  • Cisco UCS Manager runs as two fully redundant instance able to be replicated across a pair of Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects, and the Fabric Interconnects themselves contain extensive logic for managing heartbeat, problem detection and remediation.
  • The Cisco unified network components are installed in pairs with redundant cabling, providing redundant access to premise Ethernet, SAN, and management networks.
  • NetApp FAS storage with Clustered Data ONTAP eliminates planned downtime and prevents business disruptions at the storage layer.


Shared Oracle-NetApp Customer proofpoints


flexpod-building-blocks.pngThere are a large number of shared customers between Oracle and NetApp.  Specific to FlexPod as a highly available and efficient IT platform, we have a few relevant, recent wins:


  • Groupe Mutuel Insurance transformed their data center application availability and performance while saving on power, space, and management with Oracle and FlexPod.  Pascal Sarech, the Infrastructure Manager there attested to why they bought the solution: “We operate around the clock so can’t afford systems failures. We must have high availability, disaster recovery capabilities, and a flexible architecture.”
  • Suttons Group, one of Britain’s most successful privately owned logistics company, runs Oracle on FlexPod.  According to Robert Sutton, the IT Director, “The most profound impact FlexPod has had on the business is that employees have started commenting about how their IT systems have not failed in a long Time. We have uptime certainty and absolute stability.”
  • Cyta Hellas, the leading integrated telecommunications company in Cyprus, started commercial operations in Greece in 2008.  They are realizing the value of FlexPod to support growth in an efficient way. According to the IT Manager at Cyta Hellas, “In terms of efficiency, connectivity, and design, FlexPod is a cut above the rest. Expansion and optimization come much cheaper, whether you look at hardware or staff resources.”


Oracle on FlexPod


We’ve recently published a number of Oracle-based reference architectures for FlexPod.  These new validated designs bring FlexPod converged infrastructure benefits to an expanding set of Oracle workloads.  The three most recent are:



Everyone knows that Oracle is the market share leader in RDBMS, and more than that, they are an ISV associated with Tier 1 applications.  The FlexPod integration with Oracle demonstrates the growing FlexPod investment in the Oracle database and application space, and maps to NetApp’s increasing movement into Tier 1 storage.

For our resellers and customers, the value of these designs is that they are pretested and validated Oracle database and application building blocks.  Resellers really like the velocity that FlexPod brings them – being able to more quickly get solution infrastructure and packaged applications deployed, allowing more energy to be focused on the customization and development end of these engagements.


There are specific Oracle related uses and benefit areas that we’re seeing a lot of on FlexPod:


  • Dev/Test – NetApp cloning allows admins to instantly create virtual copies of databases, that use very little incremental storage, which can be quickly deleted and re-created to speed test cycles.
  • Predictive performance – With FlexPod validated equipment DBAs and Application teams can expect constant, predictable system performance and uptime.
  • Data protection – With native NetApp storage features like Snapshots and SnapRestore – which work with RMAN, Direct NFS client, RAC, ASM – databases can be backed-up or restored in minutes.
  • Reduced licensing – NetApp storage systems contain their own significant processing capability, and by offloading RMAN backups, compression and encryption to the storage hardware, this frees-up server cycles, not just to improve performance but to reduce the need for licensed server processor cores