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Scale-out Qumulo NAS qualifies latest Dell EMC PowerEdge servers

Qumulo scale-out NAS software can now run on Dell EMC's PowerEdge servers. That means Dell EMC server customers can choose between Qumulo software and Dell EMC's Isilon.

Qumulo today added a hardware option for its customers by qualifying its scale-out NAS software to run on Dell Technologies' PowerEdge servers. That leaves open the possibility that Qumulo will gain customers on Dell EMC servers at the expense of Dell EMC's Isilon clustered NAS platform.

Qumulo is nearly two years into an OEM deal with Dell EMC archrival Hewlett Packard Enterprise. HPE rebrands and sells Qumulo's scale-out NAS software on its servers. There is no joint go-to-market agreement between Qumulo and Dell EMC, which is a NAS market leader. The partnership means customers can purchase PowerEdge hardware from their preferred Dell EMC resellers and install Qumulo NAS software on the box.

Dell qualified Qumulo NAS software to run on dual-socket 2U Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd servers.

"There are a lot of customers who build private clouds on Dell hardware. We're now in a position where they can choose our software to build their computing," said Peter Zaballos, chief marketing officer at Qumulo, based in Seattle.

Dell EMC's 14th-generation PowerEdge servers are equipped with about 20% more nonvolatile memory express flash capacity than R730 models. One of the use cases cited by Dell EMC is the ability to use a single PowerEdge 14G node to power its IsilonSD Edge virtual NAS software, which competes with Qumulo storage.

Will Qumulo on PowerEdge compete with Dell EMC Isilon NAS?

The Qumulo File Fabric (QF2) file system scales to support billions of files and hundreds of petabytes. QF2 is available on Qumulo C-Series hybrid arrays, all-flash P-Series or preinstalled on HPE Apollo servers. Customers may also run it as an Elastic Compute Cloud instance to burst and replicate in AWS.

Qumulo NAS gear is sold mostly to companies in media and entertainment and other sectors with large amounts of unstructured data.

Zaballos said QF2 on PowerEdge isn't a direct attempt to displace Isilon. The goal is to give Dell EMC shops greater flexibility, he said.

"We're looking to build the biggest footprint in the market. Between Dell and HPE, that's about 40% of the server market for data centers," Zaballos said.

Qumulo competes mainly with Isilon and NetApp's NAS products, and it has won customers away from Isilon. Pressure on traditional NAS vendors is also coming from several file-system-based cloud startups, including Elastifile, Quobyte, Stratoscale and WekaIO.

Qumulo founders Peter Godman, Aaron Passey and Neal Fachan helped develop the Isilon OneFS clustered file system, which paved the way for the startup's initial public offering in 2006. EMC bought the Isilon technology for $2.25 billion in 2010 and then was acquired as part of the Dell-EMC merger in 2015.

Qumulo CEO Bill Richter was president of the EMC Isilon division for three years. He joined Qumulo in 2016.

Greg Schulz, an analyst with Server StorageIO, based in Stillwater, Minn., likened the Qumulo-PowerEdge configuration to Dell EMC's "co-opetition" OEM agreement with hyper-converged vendor Nutanix.

"Qumulo NAS has been focused on high-performance, big-bandwidth file serving, which may not play well in environments that have many smaller files and mixed workloads. That's an area Isilon has adapted to over the years. The other obstacle is getting [beyond] large elephant-hunt deals into broader markets. And getting traction with Dell servers can help them fill gaps in their portfolio," Schulz said.

Ron Pugh, vice president for Dell EMC OEM sales in North America, said it's not unusual for potential competitors to rely on Dell hardware products.

"If you look deeply inside the Dell Technologies portfolio, some of our customers can be considered competitors. Our OEM program is here to be a building block for our customers, not to build competing products," Pugh said.

Dell EMC also sells Elastifile cloud-based NAS on its servers and is an Elastifile strategic investor.

Qumulo: AI tests on P-Series flash

Qumulo this week also previewed upcoming AI enhancements to its P-Series to enable faster prefetching of application data in RAM. Those enhancements are due to roll out in September. Grant Gumina, a Qumulo senior product manager, said initial AI enhancements will improve performance of all-flash P-Series. Series proofs of concept are underway with media customers, Gumina said.

"A lot of studios are using SANs to power primarily file-based workloads in each playback bay. The performance features in QF2 effectively means they can install a NAS for the first time and move to a fully Ethernet-based environment," Gumina said.

File storage vendors NetApp and Pure Storage recently added flash systems built for AI, incorporating Nvidia hardware.

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