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Dell EMC turns Isilon NAS into PowerScale, adds objects

Dell EMC PowerScale combines a modified version of the Isilon OneFS software tuned for Dell PowerEdge servers. The systems provide unified access to files and unstructured data.

Dell EMC has introduced PowerScale unified file and object storage, tuning its Isilon NAS software to perform on Dell PowerEdge server hardware.

Support for the Amazon S3 API adds object to the traditional Isilon scale-out NAS file system for unstructured data. The move continues Dell's effort to rebrand its systems under the "Power" name. Dell EMC renamed its VMax SANS to PowerMax in 2018, rebranded its backup products as PowerProtect in 2019 and unveiled converged midrange PowerStore arrays in May.

Dell EMC PowerScale uses Dell's CloudIQ to analyze infrastructure performance. Dell EMC added new DataIQ analytics to track each file and object and automatically tier data to a physical or cloud target.

The PowerScale configurations include 1U Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EMC Isilon all-flash and hybrid arrays running PowerScale OneFS 9.0. That's a variant of the OneFS operating system for Isilon, which EMC acquired for $2.25 billion in 2010 and grew into a major product line. Dell acquired EMC in 2015.

Dell EMC PowerScale clusters start at 11 TB and scale to multiple petabytes. Dell EMC Isilon OneFS is not optimized for Dell PowerEdge hardware, but is still available on customer Isilon hardware nodes.

 "We've taken the design tenets of OneFS to a whole new family with PowerScale. The hidden gem is our analytics. We want to help customers stop worrying about storage management and start thinking about data management," said Caitlin Gordon, a senior vice president of Dell EMC storage marketing.

Dell EMC PowerScale
Dell EMC PowerScale provides file and object access.

Data centers can add PowerScale nodes to an Isilon cluster non-disruptively with automated load balancing. Gordon said Dell has no plans to phase out the Isilon file arrays, which remain popular. But future versions of OneFS will be sold under the PowerScale banner.

Taming unstructured data

Files are stored in a hierarchy of folders for easy navigation, whereas object-based system use a flat address space to store billions of unstructured data elements. Dell EMC PowerScale OneFS is an API-driven file system that bridges the gap between files and objects. OneFS data management allows files and objects to be accessed via policies within a single file system.

The PowerScale storage supports traditional NFS and SMB file protocols as well as Hadoop Distributed File System. Dell added native Amazon S3 access for writing data using any protocol without migration or secondary copies. That allows a DevOps team to use S3 to write data file shares and advance a cloud application into production more quickly.

Integrating the Isilon technology on PowerEdge will enable Dell to deliver storage innovations to enterprises faster, said Scott Sinclair, a storage analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

"When new processors or memory become available, Dell will be able to roll that out to users right away as part of their own server innovation. It will help OneFS be more flexible in the technologies that can be used underneath it," Sinclair said.

PowerScale OneFS in the cloud

The OneFS software is part of Dell EMC's effort to deliver its storage as cloud arrays. The Isilon NAS arrays provide the storage in Dell Streaming Analytics Platform for edge-based AI analytics.

Enterprises can acquire PowerScale OneFS systems as part of the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform, which makes Dell EMC block and file arrays available on demand or as a locally managed service.

PowerScale for Multi-cloud lets customers move data to major public cloud providers. Google Cloud Platform computing customers can also buy OneFS instances as native file storage that use Google cloud computing. Del said similar cloud instances are on the roadmap for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

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