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Converged Infrastructure + Isilon: Better Together

David Noy

VP Product Management, Emerging Technologies Division at EMC

You can’t beat Isilon for simplicity, scalability, performance and savings. We’re talking  world-class scale-out NAS that stores, manages, protects and analyzes your unstructured data with a powerful platform that stays simple, no matter how large your data environment. And Dell EMC already has the #1 converged infrastructure with blocks and racks. So bringing these two superstars together into one converged system is truly a case of one plus one equals three.

This convergence—pairing Vblock/VxBlock/VxRack systems and the Technology Extension for Isilon— creates an unmatched combination that flexibly supports a wide range of workloads with ultra-high performance, multi-protocol NAS storage. And the benefits really add up, too:

As impressive as these numbers are, it all boils down to value and versatility. These converged solutions give you more value for your investment because, quite simply, they store more data for less. And their versatility allows you to optimally run both traditional and nontraditional workloads These include video surveillance, SAP/Oracle/Microsoft applications, mixed workloads that generate structured and unstructured data, Electronic Medical Records and Medical Imaging and more – on infrastructure built and supported as one product.

With a Dell EMC Converged System, you’ll see better, faster business outcomes through simpler IT across a wide range of application workloads. For more information on modernizing your data center with the industry’s broadest converged portfolio, visit emc.com/ci or call your Dell EMC representative today.

 

Learn more about Converged Infrastructure and IsilonAlso, check out the full infographic

Announcing Isilon OneFS 8.0.1

David Noy

VP Product Management, Emerging Technologies Division at EMC

It’s really been an exhilarating last couple of months leading up to the recent historical merger between Dell and EMC! We just completed our first Dell EMC World and announced Isilon All-Flash last week.  While all that was in progress, the Isilon team was heads-down focused on the next update to the industry leading Scale-Out NAS OneFS operating system.

Today, we’re announcing the new OneFS 8.0.1 release with a strong focus on strengthening the Data Lake with features supporting the horizontals and vertical markets we serve. For the horizontal markets, we’ve added new and improved capabilities around Hadoop big data analytics, Isilon CloudPools, and IsilonSD Edge. For the vertical industries we support, we’ve focused on enhancing the needs of the Healthcare and Financial markets.

Customers continue to gain more value from their data with analytics.  Hadoop based solutions have always been a pillar for Isilon customers because of native support for HDFS protocol in the OneFS operating system. In OneFS 8.0.1, we’ve added support for Apache Ambari to proactively monitor key performance metrics and alerts which enables enterprise customers to have a single point for management of the entire Hadoop cluster. In addition, from a security perspective, not only have we integrated with Apache Ranger to deliver seamless authorization and access control, but we’ve also added support for end-to-end data in-flight encryption between Isilon nodes and the HDFS client.

Many of the Isilon enterprise customers continue to use OneFS because of its simplicity and ease of management at scale. We’ve added many new features for enterprises like CloudPools proxy support to increase security, reduce risk, and simplify management. For IsilonSD Edge software defined storage, we’ve added support for VMware ESX 6.0 and have seamlessly integrated with EMC Remote Support (ESRS) for remote monitoring, issue resolution and troubleshooting.

Other enterprise capabilities include seamless non-disruptive upgrades from OneFS 8.0, upgrade rollback support, a 5X improvement in audit performance and a completely re-written framework for performance resource management,  reporting and data insights.

Isilon deployments continue to add value for customers across verticals like Media & Entertainment, Healthcare, Life Sciences, EDA and others. In this release we have strengthened our solutions for the Healthcare and Finance verticals.  For Healthcare PACS workloads, we’ve added capabilities in OneFS 8.0.1 that increases the efficiency, optimizes the storage and significantly improves the storage utilization for PACS archive workloads. For the Financial industry, we’ve added seamless integration for compliance data with business continuity features by integrating SmartLock compliance mode with SyncIQ replication for push button failover and failback.

OneFS 8.0.1 – the first major upgrade to the OneFS 8.0 code base – it contains a number of features that many enterprises were waiting for. If you are looking to upgrade to the OneFS 8.0 code base because you generally want to wait for a subsequent “dot release”, today is the day, your wait is over!

The New Isilon All-Flash Scale-Out NAS: Revolutionary File Storage That’s All About the Software

David Noy

VP Product Management, Emerging Technologies Division at EMC

161001-isilon-bold_front_sm2The topic of flash in the data center is a hot one, and you may have your own views. But to truly get a handle on everything flash can do for you, it helps to understand what’s driving all the excitement. Because there’s more to it than you might realize.

Two things are going on. First, SSDs are replacing spinning disks, increasing reliability and lowering costs while density keeps climbing. Now you can get flash storage that has an 8x higher density than was possible not too long ago. Second, the ongoing data explosion causes storage requirements to nearly double every two years—and 80% of this new data is unstructured.

Increased performance demands from powerful, next-generation applications that use all this unstructured data mean that they too need flash technology. Billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things inundate companies of all sizes with unprecedented amounts of data to which they need fast, secure access. At the same time, innovation has expanded the term “mission-critical” in unforeseen ways. For example, in the media and entertainment sector, the need for lightning-quick access to data has grown enormously as changes in consumer behaviors drive changes in business models.

Now, with the introduction of Isilon All-Flash Scale-Out NAS, you have an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of flash for all of your critical unstructured data workloads.

 

Going Beyond Performance

All-flash storage helps address the need for extreme performance. Unfortunately, most all-flash solutions available today are focused on support of block-based data applications, which represent just 20% of most businesses’ data. While some vendors have recently introduced all-flash NAS products, they’re typically early versions that lack the enterprise capabilities organizations need when it comes to data protection, security and management. The Dell EMC Isilon All-Flash solution is different. Very different.

What makes Isilon All-Flash truly unique isn’t hardware — the real difference is the software. Isilon All-Flash runs on the same Isilon OneFS operating system that today powers other Isilon platforms and is used successfully by thousands of organizations around the world. Now in its 8th-generation, Isilon OneFS, and its extensive enterprise capabilities, is the reason Isilon is recognized as the #1 scale-out NAS storage platform in the industry. Isilon All-Flash combines the extreme performance of flash with the massive scalability and other vital enterprise-grade capabilities that organizations need:

 

  • Extreme performance: To support your most demanding unstructured data workloads, Isilon All-Flash delivers up to 250,000 IOPS and 15 GB/s bandwidth per chassis, and a total cluster performance of up to 25M IOPS and 1.5 TB/s bandwidth.
  • Massive scalability: With Isilon All-Flash, you can scale storage capacity from 92 TB to 924 TB in a single 4U chassis, and up to 92.4 PB in a single Isilon cluster.
  • Operational flexibility: Because Isilon All-Flash is powered by the Isilon OneFS operating system with its extensive multi-protocol capabilities (including NFS, SMB, FTP, HDFS, REST, Swift, and HTTP), you can support a wide range of applications and workloads on a single platform.
  • Enterprise data protection: Unstructured data is critical to your business. Isilon All- Flash ensures its integrity and availability with up to N+4 redundancy as well as enterprise-grade backup and disaster recovery.
  • Robust security: Definitely don’t want to compromise here. Options include role-based access control (RBAC), secure access zones, SEC-compliant write once read many (WORM) data protection, file system auditing, and data encryption.
  • Unmatched efficiency: Isilon All-Flash delivers the lowest total cost of data. Storage utilization can exceed 80%, and SmartDedupe can increase effective capacity up to an additional 30%.

 

Better Economics with Automated Storage Tiering

Another distinct advantage of Isilon All-Flash is the ability to tier data automatically to the most appropriated storage resources. With Isilon SmartPools and CloudPools software, Isilon All-Flash storage solutions can take advantage of policy-based, automated storage tiering to move data automatically to lower-cost tiers—including a choice of cloud storage options—as data ages or becomes less valuable. This enables you to reduce capital expenses and optimize storage resources by reserving Isilon All-Flash storage for your most demanding applications.

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Start Your Transformation with Flash Technology for Unstructured Data

You know Dell EMC as the market leader in All-Flash storage and Isilon as the recognized leader in scale-out NAS. Now we’re providing you with the new Isilon All-Flash scale-out NAS storage platform that combines the extreme price/performance advantages of flash technology with the proven efficiency, flexibility and resiliency of Isilon OneFS, the #1 scale-out NAS storage platform in the industry.

Isilon All-Flash will be available in 2017. To receive updates on the launch, visit emc.com/isilon. To pre-order, call your Dell EMC representative today.

Demystifying Software-Defined Storage and Hyperconvergence

David Noy

VP Product Management, Emerging Technologies Division at EMC

If you read the storage news these days you simply can’t miss a story around hyper-converged storage or yet another vendor looking to release a software version of its platform. If you believe Gartner, by 2019 about 70% of existing storage array products will become available in “software-only” versions. The information industry is quickly waking up to the fact that the thing that turns a cheap white box server into a branded product that commands high margins is the software. Increasingly, end users are looking to standardize on low cost servers in order to reduce operational costs and obtain better purchasing leverage to get better pricing. Some web scale customers do this to the extreme and from that the Open Compute Project was born.

To participate in this market,Computer applications different strategies have emerged by data storage technology companies and the borders between software-defined, hyper-converged, and commodity hardware have gotten blurred.

Before I delve into what’s out there, let’s define terms. Software-defined storage has been around for a long time. A software-defined storage solution provides a hardware agnostic solution to data management and provisioning based on storage virtualization. Said more plainly, software-defined storage takes a bunch of disks and processors and turns them into the functional equivalent of a storage appliance. This could be object, block or file based storage. Hyperconverged refers to the ability to run both your software-defined storage services (a virtualized storage appliance) and applications on the same servers. This could be a cluster of servers where direct attached hard disks and flash drives are virtualized and made available to applications running (potentially virtualized) on the same physical infrastructure.

“Commodity hardware” refers to servers that are built from commonly interchangeable, standards based, high volume components. Data storage companies are bringing all of these aspects together to build low cost, highly customizable alternatives to the legacy storage architectures of the past.

In EMC’s portfolio there are several unique and powerful software-defined storage offerings for object, block and (soon) file based storage. For today, I am focusing on the EMC® ScaleIO® product which enables a “Software-defined Scale-out SAN” by  virtualizing servers with DAS to provide block storage for applications running either hyper-converged or on separate sets of servers dedicated to storage and applications (“two-layer” approach). The EMC ScaleIO product was designed from day one to be a software-defined storage offering that takes any server hardware and pools its storage in scale-out fashion. What does it mean to be scale-out? Scale-out (as opposed to scale-up) means that the design center for the product is optimized to incrementally add capacity and compute. Scale-out storage products allow end users to start small, often times with only a few nodes (another term for servers) and incrementally grow as their business demands increase.

One of the advantages that EMC ScaleIO has over some of the other approaches to software-defined block storage is that it was designed for scale, performance, and flexibility out of the gate. ScaleIO is first and foremost a software product. As such, it can be easily applied to a wide variety of commodity servers allowing customers to avoid vendor lock-in, maximize their existing server vendor relationships, and pick and choose the storage media that meets their performance requirements. The ScaleIO product was also designed exclusively as a high performance block storage virtualization product, so it does not have to suffer from the performance overhead that comes with trying to take-on “multiple storage personalities”, which I will explain later. Finally, the ScaleIO team recognized the importance of platform choice and implemented support for a wide range of hypervisors and operating systems including integration with cloud management products like OpenStack.

Why the SDS Approach for Hyperconverged InfrastructureServers Conquers All
With the recent shift in thinking towards taking advantage of commoditization and convergence, many vendors are now competing in the hyper-converged storage market. There are several approaches they have taken: an appliance model, a layered model, or a hypervisor model.

Appliance Model:
The first approach, where vendors have taken an appliance model to the solution, has had moderate success. However, in an effort to rush to market, these solutions have made rigid assumptions around hardware choices and rules. These rules help when you are trying to force a quick solution into a new market, but ultimately they lead to pain for the end users. Rigid rules around how to grow your hyper-converged appliances, which components you have to use, flash to spinning disk ratios, and other “non-solutions” to engineering rather than customer problems are forcing these product vendors to rethink their approach. Many of them are now looking at how to take their embedded software and reengineer it to run on a wider variety of hardware vendor platforms. Ultimately, what they are finding is that what customers really want is the software bits and not the vendor lock-in. Unfortunately, systems designed to take advantage of hardware choice shortcuts aren’t so easily repurposed for a hardware vendor neutral world. Fortunately, EMC ScaleIO was built as a software product from inception. This means it can easily be adapted to hardware delivered solutions later, but will never have to worry about struggling to become a software-only product.

Layer Model:
The second approach is to take a layered model to building software-defined block storage services on top of object storage architecture. Now there is nothing wrong with using abstractions in any systems design – abstractions help to simplify things. The problem comes when you have a system that is designed to optimize around the underlying abstraction and not the service layered on top. It’s really hard to do a good job of building one data paradigm on top of another when the two are optimized for totally different parameters. For example, a block storage system should be optimized around maximum uptime, minimal resource utilization, and maximum performance even if it means taking advantage of more expensive media like flash for persistence. On the other hand, an object file system should be optimized for billions or even trillions of objects, geographic dispersion of data, and low cost relatively static data.  Layering a block storage system optimized for uptime and performance on top of a system optimized for object sprawl and low cost seem at odds with one another! That’s exactly what we see in practice; software-defined block storage built on object stores tend to be slow, consume a lot of resources, and require a lot of care and feeding into the underlying storage paradigm to keep operational. These offerings have been successful primarily because their business model is a freemium model that allows end-users to download and use the product without a support contract. The performance penalties and reliability issues have certainly not played in their favor. In order to make sure that end users have choices other than the current cumbersome freemium offerings, this summer EMC ScaleIO will be releasing the first “Free and Frictionless” versions of its product, designed to give anyone the ability to download and operate a software-defined SAN storage cluster, for an unlimited time and capacity, for non-production workloads.

Hyperconverged Model:
Finally, hypervisor vendors (of which there are only a few) have also jumped on the commodity bandwagon. The advantage of these solutions is that they are generally built into the hypervisor platform, which means that if you have the hypervisor platform deployed then you have a block storage virtualization product ready to go. Hypervisor clusters of servers tend to be small though and so while this can provide a quick and easy way to get going with block storage, they tend not to be a scalable, high performance, solution and as with solutions designed for a specific hardware platform, come with a level of rigidity. End-users that have a mix of Windows and Linux platforms, or may be looking to take advantage of less expensive virtualization platforms like KVM and OpenStack will find themselves limited by solutions that are built into a single vendor’s hypervisor. Once again, EMC ScaleIO addresses the needs of these end-users looking for choice of platforms, high performance, and massive scale while in some cases plugging directly into the hypervisor for optimal performance. While EMC ScaleIO can be deployed in conjunction with hypervisor platforms in a hyper-converged fashion, it is different from the hypervisor vendor solutions in that you aren’t forced to run hyper-converged. You can choose to deploy your storage servers and your virtualized application servers separately if that’s what suits your organization.

It’s no surprise given the rapid growth of the software-defined, commodity storage market that every large vendor and many more startups are introducing or tailoring their products for this new world. But the approach matters. Products designed with hardware constraints early on will have a real challenge trying to disentangle themselves from the assumptions that they have made. Products built with dual personalities that attempt to imitate one storage type on top of another will find themselves optimized for one thing while trying to deliver another, leaving end-users dissatisfied. And finally, hypervisor-based solutions, while simple to set up and integrated into the hypervisor, may work for some small deployments but will lack the flexibility and scale of a true software defined storage solution for the enterprise. Fortunately for end-users, the EMC ScaleIO software block storage solution avoids these limitations since it was born and raised in the software defined world.

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