Dell EMC Isilon is an Emmy winner!

[ Disclosure: I was invited by GestaltIT as a delegate to their Storage Field Day 19 event from Jan 22-24, 2020 in the Silicon Valley USA. My expenses, travel, accommodation and conference fees were covered by GestaltIT, the organizer and I was not obligated to blog or promote the vendors’ technologies presented at this event. The content of this blog is of my own opinions and views ]

And the Emmy® goes to …

Yes, the Emmy® goes to Dell EMC Isilon! It was indeed a well deserved accolade and an honour!

Dell EMC Isilon had just won the Technology & Engineering Emmy® Awards a week before Storage Field Day 19, for their outstanding pioneering work on the NAS platform tiering technology of media and broadcasting content according to business value.

A lasting true clustered NAS

This is not a blog to praise Isilon but one that instill respect to a real true clustered, scale-out file system. I have known of OneFS for a long time, but never really took the opportunity to really put my hands on it since 2006 (there is a story). So here is a look at history …

Back in early to mid-2000, there was a lot of talks about large scale NAS. There were several players in the nascent scaling NAS market. NetApp was the filer king, with several competitors such as Polyserve, Ibrix, Spinnaker, Panasas and the young upstart Isilon. There were also Procom, BlueArc and NetApp’s predecessor Auspex. By the second half of the 2000 decade, the market consolidated and most of these NAS players were acquired.

Out of the rubble, only Panasas and NetApp remained. Unfortunately NetApp made a mess of the its integration with Spinnaker and the development of ONTAP-GX technology, took more than a decade to settle on its current CDOT technology. Panasas has been enjoying a second wind because of the burgeoning commercial HPC market.

Dell EMC Isilon has been the most consistent performer of the scaling NAS vendors, lasted longer than almost all large scale NAS and OneFS was the reason of it all. Today, this true clustered NAS technology continues to improve with each upgrade, supporting up to a tested 252-nodes cluster, with 50PB capacity.

Manage the media content, not the storage

One of the most important operational processes in media and entertainment (M&E), be it part of post-production or content development & delivery or broadcasting, is the pipeline or the workflow. I have written about the importance of this workflow pipeline and the amalgamation of its entirety to the respective industry seamlessly is crucial to the business. This workflow ties together all parts of the operations, from the moment creative content is created and ingested, to the development projects of the respective contents, to the delivery of the contents to the output broadcasting and collaborative channels.

This transparent and seamless workflow singularity is critically important because it translates to

  • Enhanced collaboration among production engineers, CG & VFX artists and content developers and editors
  • Improved productivity and speed of delivery
  • Operational efficiency to content development and sharing

OneFS and SmartPools

Underneath this workflow singularity is where the OneFS single namespace plays a big part. The automated, policy-based workload tiering according to projects, business operations and more has been a big part of Isilon since its early inception. This is the Dell EMC Isilon SmartPools technology. Without going into the deep details (more here), the tiering technology is shown here:

In addition to tiering according the age of the files, the rules-based tiering policies can be tailored with a combo of many different variables, and this automated, hands-free tiering methodology has endeared the M&E industry greatly.

As we zoom out and look at the overall post-production network design (shown below), it is easy to understand how crucial the Isilon SmartPools technology is to the M&E operations.

The intelligent plays of Isilon’s tiering, snapshots, SyncIQ, GNA (Global Namespace Acceleration), inline data reduction technologies of deduplication and compression, file sharding with erasure coding and more have put them as the premier scale-out NAS platform in the industry, as well as the leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Files and Objects.

Isilon to the Clouds

As this blog is being prepared, Isilon has been developing for the cloud as well. CloudPools, together with SmartPools is already extending its reach with the public cloud service providers, and Dell EMC is doing exciting things with these cloud technologies. And this was well presented at Storage Field Day 19 in the video I shared below:

  • Check out fellow SFD19 delegate, Dan Frith’s blog for more details of the Dell EMC Isilon cloud journey.

Parting thoughts

I have a lot of respect for Dell EMC Isilon. It is one of the best distributed, scale-out NAS technologies, and it has exemplified itself time and time again. Yes, there will be young upstarts like WekaIO, Stellus Technologies (read Chris Evan’s blog on the Stellus Data Platform) or Qumulo which are challenging for the crown, but Isilon has proven for 2 decades that they are still the one to beat.

Where do we see them going for the next decade? They have been unrelentless, a juggernaut and I would love to see them ruling the roost in the years to come.

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 30 years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because those are my areas of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to know the facts and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and between 2013-2015, I was SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently employed at iXsystems as their General Manager for Asia Pacific Japan.

2 Responses to Dell EMC Isilon is an Emmy winner!

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