Product - Tech

Dell EMC Isilon / Power Scale Alternative and Comparison

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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.


ISILON PowerScale

Anyone can download and installnoyes
Software on any x86 server from any vendorno, $$$$ appliancesyes
Mix-and-match hardwareno, applianceyes
Free editionnoyes, up to 150TB
Scale-out without NFS bottlenecksnoyes
Linear performance scalingno, NFS bottlenecksyes
Maximum cluster capacity145PB (raw)Exabytes
Native high-performance driversnoLinux, Windows, macOS
Clients do not disrupt clusteryesyes
File and object (S3) in the same namespacenoyes
Supported Hardware  
Single networkno, backend requiredyes
All flash$$$$ from vendoryes
Low-cost flash (QLC)noyes
Hybrid Flash/HDDyesyes
Combine flash and HDD in the same filenoyes
On-prem or coloyesyes
Public cloudsnoyes
Storage Efficiency  
Data protectionECEC, synchronous replication
Thin provisioningnoyes
Multi-tenancy and oversubscriptionnoyes
Suitable Workloads  
4k random IOnoyes
Small Filesnoyes
End-to-end encryptionnoyes
Unified ACLsnoyes
X.509 certificate supportnoyes
No kernel modulesyesyes
Deploy on k8snoyes
CSI Pluginyes, generic NFSyes
Secured access with user-provided credentialsnoyes

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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