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Dell EMC Isilon file storage floats into Google public cloud

Storage vendor claims Dell EMC Isilon OneFS scale-out file system pairs with rapid compute to deliver high-performance analytics in Google Cloud Platform.

Dell EMC spun out a flurry of cloud initiatives to bolster one of the few areas where its products lag competing storage vendors.

The infrastructure vendor teamed with Google to make its Dell EMC Isilon OneFS file system available for scale-out analytics in the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Dell EMC said Google cloud customers can scale up to 50 petabytes of Isilon file storage in a single namespace, with no required application changes.

The managed NAS offering uses Google compute to run software instantiations of Isilon OneFS. The service is part of Dell Technologies Cloud, an umbrella branding for Dell EMC's cloud options. This is Google's second major foray into file system storage within the last year. It acquired startup Elastifile, whose scale-out system is integrated in Google Cloud Filestore.

Dell Technologies Cloud hybrid cloud infrastructure enhancements also include native Kubernetes integration in VMware vSphere, along with more flexible compute and storage options.

File storage written for cloud

Dell EMC allows customers to tier local file storage to all three public cloud providers via its Isilon CloudPools, but the Google partnership is its first effort at writing OneFS specifically for cloud-native workloads. AWS has the largest market share of the public cloud market, followed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Dell did not address if it plans similar integrations with AWS or Microsoft Azure, but it represents a likely path, especially as enterprises deploy multiple hybrid clouds. File pioneer NetApp started offering cloud-based versions of its OnTap operating system several years ago, while all-flash specialist Pure Storage recently added file services to its block-based FlashArray flagship array. Hewlett Packard Enterprise also sells file services in the cloud on ProLiant servers through an OEM deal with Qumulo, whose founders helped to engineer the original Isilon NAS code.

Dell has to continue to execute on this strategy with the other major cloud providers. This can't be a one-and-done.
Matt EastwoodSenior vice president of enterprise infrastructure, IDC

"Dell has to continue to execute on this strategy with the other major cloud providers. This can't be a one-and-done [with Google]. We'll need to see more improvements from Dell in the next six to 12 months to show they are able to bring their file storage technologies to the cloud," said Matt Eastwood, a senior vice president of enterprise infrastructure at IDC.

Although Dell and Google publicly acknowledged a beta version in 2018, the formal OneFS cloud launch comes a little more than one year after Thomas Kurian took over as CEO at Google Cloud Platform. An interesting twist would be noteworthy if Kurian's arrival helped spur the Dell product development: George Kurian, his twin brother, and CEO at NetApp, has said Dell is "years behind" NetApp's Data Fabric strategy.

Brian Payne, a Dell EMC vice president, said enterprises have struggled to run traditional file systems that fully exploit Google's fast compute services for analyzing large data sets. Enterprises can purchase the cloud version of Dell EMC Isilon OneFS with the required compute services in the Google Compute Platform portal.

"We found that customers are using Google to run their AI engines or data services, and we paired with Google to help them process and store very large content files in Isilon," Payne said.

Node requirements flexed for Dell Technologies Cloud

Dell's strategy has evolved on how to unify is hybrid cloud offerings with public cloud technologies, although its ownership of VMware provides assets supported by Dell EMC storage competitors.

Dell Technologies Cloud integrates VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) and Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure as a combined stack to run workload domains, software-defined storage, software-defined networking and virtualized compute. Customers can buy Dell Technologies Cloud and manage it locally or as an on-demand service.

VMware Cloud Foundation 4.0 includes native Kubernetes integration that allows container orchestration to be managed in vSphere. The Kubernetes piece is part of Project Pacific, the code name for a major redesign of the vSphere control plane. Payne said it allows cloud-native workloads to run directly on the Dell Technologies Cloud platform, with Dell handling lifecycle management.

Dell Technologies On Demand offers the same services as a consumption license. Payne said Dell's new entry requirement is a minimum of four nodes, down from eight nodes, and users can scale capacity across multiple racks.

The Dell Technologies Cloud binge includes updates to Dell EMC SD-WAN software-defined networking, based on the VeloCloud technology VMware acquired in 2017. Dell also added support for Dell EMC PowerProtect Cyber Recovery data protection to VMware Cloud, which uses Dell EMC storage to extend private IaaS deployments to public clouds.

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