Dell EMC Isilon / Power Scale Alternative and Comparison

Posted by  Quobyte  on  

Over the last five years, massive scale-out workloads have arrived in the enterprise. Driven by new big data analytics technologies like Hadoop or Spark, or more recently machine learning (ML) and AI, enterprises today have to deal with unprecedented amounts of data. In some domains, the data growth has been driven by hardware innovations such as cryoEM, next-generation sequencers, or 4k or 8k cameras in M&E.

What is Dell EMC Isilon / PowerScale

Isilon is a scale-out NAS appliance solution developed over 20 years ago by Isilon and later by Dell EMC. The solution has recently been renamed to PowerScale.
Isilon was the first scalable enterprise storage solution. It is built around access over the dated NFS protocol, which introduces severe scalability limitations to the product.
Data protection is achieved with Erasure Coding across nodes, which leads to good space efficiency. However, the data protection with EC makes this product less suitable for small file workloads or random IO applications.

Software-based distributed file systems provide a perfect alternative to ISILON / PowerScale: They combine the convenience of file system semantics with the scalability of distributed systems on commodity hardware. Real software storage allows you to pick the hardware of your choice as an alternative to EMC PowerScale’s appliances.

Isilon vs. Quobyte: How they compare

One of the most important differences is the deployment model: Isilon/PowerScale is an appliance, which means you are limited to the hardware offered by Dell EMC at a premium. In addition, you can only deploy Isilon/PowerScale in environments where you can place physical hardware.
Quobyte is a modern software-only solution that runs on any x86 server or the public clouds. You can deploy Quobyte on inexpensive commodity servers and drives anywhere as well as on the public clouds or a hybrid mix. Quobyte runs wherever your business needs to be, including the edge.

When it comes to scalability, Isilon/PowerScale is severely limited by the use of NFS gateways as well as the choice of consistent hashing for data placement. Cluster expansions cause massive data rebalances and NFS’s lack of load balancing makes it challenging to get optimal performance in non-lab setups.
Quobyte provides true linear scaling of performance (and capacity) thanks to its decentralized architecture without the use of consistent hashing. In addition, Quobyte uses a native protocol that avoids NFS gateways and the associated performance and fail-over limitations.

Lastly, Quobyte employs erasure coding and synchronous data replication and can handle throughput as well as random IO and small file workloads from the same system where Isilon is effectively limited to throughput workloads.




Anyone can download and install no yes
Software on any x86 server from any vendor no, $$$$ appliances yes
Mix-and-match hardware no, appliance yes
Free edition no yes, up to 150TB
Scale-out without NFS bottlenecks no yes
Linear performance scaling no, NFS bottlenecks yes
Maximum cluster capacity 145PB (raw) Exabytes
Native high-performance drivers no Linux, Windows, macOS
Clients do not disrupt cluster yes yes
File and object (S3) in the same namespace no yes
Supported Hardware
Single network no, backend required yes
All flash $$$$ from vendor yes
Low-cost flash (QLC) no yes
Hybrid Flash/HDD yes yes
Combine flash and HDD in the same file no yes
On-prem or colo yes yes
Public clouds no yes
Kubernetes no yes
Storage Efficiency
Data protection EC EC, synchronous replication
Thin provisioning no yes
Multi-tenancy and oversubscription no yes
Suitable Workloads
Throughput yes yes
4k random IO no yes
Small Files no yes
End-to-end encryption no yes
Unified ACLs no yes
X.509 certificate support no yes
TLS no yes
No kernel modules yes yes
Deploy on k8s no yes
CSI Plugin yes, generic NFS yes
Secured access with user-provided credentials no yes


As a real software storage product with unparalleled simplicity, Quobyte is available for download and can be installed in minutes by anyone with Linux knowledge. Our Free Edition gives you up to 150 TB of storage – free forever.

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Quobyte enables companies to run their storage with Google-like efficiency and ease. It offers a fully automated, scalable, and high-performance software for implementing enterprise-class storage infrastructures for all workloads on standard server hardware.