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EMC upgrades Isilon NAS for file storage, Hadoop analytics

EMC spins out two new Isilon NAS models, including one for Hadoop analytics, and adds flash read cache.

EMC today launched two new Isilon scale-out network-attached storage arrays and added the ability to use flash as a read cache for all Isilon systems.

EMC also said Isilon network-attached storage (NAS) has been added to bundles with its VCE partners and its Pivotal subsidiary to perform Hadoop analytics.

The new Isilon NAS systems are the S210 for high-transactional workloads and the X410 for high throughput. EMC said the S210 can run up to 3.75 million IOPS per cluster, and is a good fit for media/entertainment and financial services workloads. The X410 is designed to support enterprise file applications, Hadoop analytics and high-performance computing. EMC said the X410 is more than 70% faster in throughput and has four times the NVRAM capacity as previous X400 systems.

SmartFlash is the caching capability built into Isilon's OneFS software. It allows up to 1 PB of solid-state drive capacity to be used in an Isilon cluster to accelerate performance. OneFS 7.1 also supports SMB 3.0 Multichannel, which allows a client and server to communicate by aggregating bandwidth across multiple network paths, OpenStack Swift and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) 2.3.

Isilon previously could use flash for metadata, but not as a read cache for data. For read cache, it used more expensive DRAM.

"With large flash caching, more types of workloads can be more cost-effectively accelerated," said Mike Matchett, a senior analyst and consultant at Taneja Group.

EMC positions the Isilon NAS platform as a data lake -- a repository for all kinds of data, also known as a "data landing zone." These lakes or zones include traditional file and block storage, as well as data used in Hadoop analytics, the cloud and for mobile devices. Along with SMB, HDFS and now Swift for object storage, Isilon supports NFS, NDMP and object storage via EMC's ViPR.

"If you have a traditional file stored in a data lake, it can be Hadooped against in real time without having to copy or move a file to a separate storage system," said Sam Grocott, vice president of product management for Isilon. "You can write a file via NFS and read it over object. Now you can natively access all data in an Isilon data lake in object storage via OpenStack Swift."

VCE, the joint venture between EMC, Cisco and VMware, has certified Isilon NAS storage for its scale-out virtual desktop infrastructure and Hadoop analytics bundles. EMC and Pivotal also launched a new big data analytics solution with Isilon arrays.

"We see Isilon increasingly used in a Hadoop environment," said Jeremy Burton, EMC's president of products and marketing. "This version of Isilon will represent a Swiss Army knife for the world of Hadoop. For general-purpose database workloads and all that NAS data that [has] been collected over the years, you don't have to move it. You can access, analyze and use it in NAS or Hadoop right there in place."

Taneja Group's Matchett said EMC has identified Hadoop as the largest emerging use case for Isilon.

"Hadoop is [Isilon's] largest growth area in terms of new deals, although we wonder what percentage of the total Isilon capacity footprint is really being accessed through HDFS," Matchett said. "Isilon is also going to support OpenStack object storage as a direct protocol later this year, making it quite a consolidated filer target. By opening up the same data files for access by object, HDFS and other protocols like SMB 3, Isilon is looking to be the key file data hub for the enterprise."

However, Matchett said Isilon's expanded protocol support could bring it into conflict with EMC's ViPR software-defined storage, which also supports object, HDFS and block storage. "EMC is going to need one heck of a flowchart and cost-benefit calculator to show customers which architectures they should be pursuing," he said.

Next Steps

EMC adds deduplication to Isilon

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It'll be interesting to see how this product works out with the Dell acquisition.