Dell EMC PowerScale (Isilon) Valuable Features

Ryan Parker-Hill
System Team Leader at Deakin University
Their SmartQuotas feature is probably the thing that we use most heavily and consistently. Because it is a scaled-out NAS product, you end up with clusters of multiple petabytes. This allows you to have quotas for people and present smaller chunks of storage to different users and applications, managing oversubscription very easily. We use the policy-based file placement, so we have multiple pools of storage. We use the cold space file placement to place, e.g., less-frequently accessed or replicated data onto archive nodes and more high-performance research data onto our high-performance nodes. It is very easy to use and very straightforward. The node pools give us the ability to non-disruptively replace the whole cluster. With our most recent Gen6 upgrade, we moved from the Gen5 nodes to the Gen6 nodes. In January this year, we ended up doing a full replacement of every component in the system. That included storage nodes, switching, etc., which we were able to replace non-disruptively and without any outages to our end users or applications. We use the InsightIQ product, which they are now deprecating and moving into CloudIQ. The InsightIQ product has been very good. You can break down the cost performance right down to protocol latency by workstation. When we infrequently do have issues, we use it to track down those issues. It also has a very good file system reporting. For maximising storage utilisation, it is very good. As you add more nodes in a cluster, you typically get more effective utilisation. It is incredibly flexible in that you can select different protection levels for different files, not necessarily for file systems or blocks of storage, but actually on a per file basis. Occasionally, if we have some data that is not important, we might need to use a lower protection. For other data that is important, we can increase that. However, we have been very happy with the utilisation. Dell EMC keeps adding more features to the solution’s OneFS operating system. In terms of group work, we have used it for about 13 years. The core feature set rollup has largely stayed the same over that time. It has been greatly improved over that time as well. So, it has always been that storage NFS sandbox, and they've broadened their scope for NFS v4, SMB3 Multi-channel, etc. They are always bringing up newer protocols, such as S3. Typically, those new features, such as S3, don't require new licensing. They are just included, which is nice. Over the years, the improvements to existing protocols have been important to us. When we first started using it, they were running open source sandbox for their SMB implementation under the covers and they used a built-in NFS server in a free VSD. Whereas, with the new implementations that they introduced for OneFS 7 have had huge increases in performance and been very good, though there's not necessarily any new features. We even use HDFS on the Isilons as well at the moment. The continued improvement has been really beneficial. It is incredibly easy to use the solution for deploying and managing storage at the petabyte scale. With CIFS and IBM Spectrum Scale, there just isn't the horizontal concern. I couldn't think of an easier way to deploy Petabyte NAS storage than using Dell EMC PowerScale. View full review »
Jace Gregg
Information Systems Manager at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
It has the ability to access the file system from multiple hardware platforms from a client perspective. We have Linux and Windows machines able to access the same file system, then we also have the ability for all those systems to be able to access the same data at pretty much the same time. That helps us quite a bit, as it lets us expand the number of processing nodes that we can use to access the data at the same time. This helps us to scale out the front-end data processing to speed things up quite a bit. We do have some of the policy-based tiering that seems to be working fairly well. As far as we can tell, it does a really good job of maximizing storage utilization. For us, the storage protection is a bit more important. The protection schemes that we have seen so far have been very effective at ensuring that our data is protected, while still being able to access as much as possible. That is one of the strengths of the OneFS software. It definitely helps us maximize the value of our data. We don't necessarily try to get any insights into it other than we just acquire the data and process it on our client's behalf. We have been able to consolidate and centralize our systems into one system. It lets us take data from the field and get it in one spot, where it can get quite a bit bigger. It also has a lot more processing systems to access our data and get it out the door a lot faster. View full review »
Keith Bradley
Director of IT at NatureFreshâ„¢ Farms
The single pane of glass for both IT and for the end-user is a valuable feature. On the IT side, I can actually control where things are stored, whether something is stored on solid-state drives or spinning drives, as well as the access users get. But the end-user doesn't distinguish the difference between a file and its folder; the end-user doesn't have to see the difference. The single pane of glass makes it very easy to use and very easy to understand. We started at 100 terabytes and we moved to 250 and it still feels like the exact same system and we're able to move data as needed. There are no performance issues based on how large the storage is. Adding a node is as simple as racking and stacking the items. It takes about two to three hours to put it into the rack. Once you have it all wired up, it takes you about an hour or 90 minutes with Dell, just to configure things and make sure it's all working. Then you just redefine your policy for where you want the items stored. We just expanded to include the solid-state, a full F200 node, and we just redefined where we wanted those files stored, whether on the super-fast solid-state or on the slow archival mode. Then, overnight, it ran that script and moved all the files around to help increase performance. We also use the CloudIQ feature to monitor performance and other data remotely. It gives us better insight into where the data's stored and the access times involved. It gives me a better understanding of what's really being accessed and helps me decide what I can move to slower drives first, and what needs to stay in the front-end and remain very fast. View full review »
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Maurizio Davini
CTO at Universita' degli Studi di Pisa
We know how to deal with the OneFS system very well. It is easy to use and scale. It is probably the easiest, most scalable storage that we have ever used with our infrastructure. It improves the performance our infrastructure. We have some other types of storage, but they are not as simple to use like PowerScale. The ease of use and installation have cut the time of putting a new storage solution into production. This has been very useful for us. View full review »
Bill Sharp
Senior Vice President, Product Development & Strategy at EarthCam, Inc.
The most important things for us are the reliability and the ability to cut down on our system administration resources. It's very easy to manage, and we have very good visibility on how the storage system is being utilized. In addition to the reliability, it's very easy to work with and it's very fast. Its sustained throughput is probably 100 times faster than previous systems. For maximizing storage utilization, PowerScale is great. When you write the data to it, it spreads it out to all the nodes, so you get all the performance from the entire pool. In addition, managing storage at the petabyte scale is very easy if you go through the user interface. Everything is there. But if we want to do more complex things, we can use the CLI. Since we're very familiar with Unix/Linux CLI we feel comfortable making configurations changes through there. Another thing we particularly like is the documentation available, and how you can self-troubleshoot a lot of things. I like to know why something does not work and Dell EMC provides extensive documentation with technical details of bugs or technical shortcomings. View full review »
Senior Consultant at a tech company with 11-50 employees
The solution is easy to use. The product has global name recognition. The performance, overall, is quite impressive. The stability of the solution is good. View full review »
Solution Consultant at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
The solution is extremely easy to manage. This is its most valuable feature. View full review »
Find out what your peers are saying about Dell EMC, Qumulo, NetApp and others in NAS. Updated: November 2020.
447,846 professionals have used our research since 2012.