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Dell PowerScale (Isilon) Valuable Features

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.

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Network Manager at a government with 1,001-5,000 employees

The low latency, the high-capacity connections that we have with the nodes, and the ability to add as needed to a particular system, are all important features for us.

It also handles data distribution among the nodes internally. You really don't have to do anything, so management is easy. If you're someone who really wants to get granular and know where every bit or byte is going, maybe it's not for you because I don't know if you can get that granular.

We have over a petabyte of storage and we've sliced it up. You can't really call them "shares" because it's not really like an NFS mount or CIFS share. But we've sliced it up and the policies and auditing on a particular system are, in fact, too much data. Anytime a file change or any system change happens on it, it records it and we ingest that into a SIEM. We can crunch it so we know who is changing what file at what time. That gives us auditing capabilities.

The policy-based management that we have, for who accesses what shares, is relatively simple to set up and manage. It's almost like managing an Active Directory file share.

There are also the policies that you set up on replication and purging files, and policies for something called WORM. That's a "write once, read many," where you can't overwrite certain files or certain data. It puts them in a "protected mode" where it becomes very difficult for someone to accidentally delete. We use that for certain files or certain directories, because we're dealing with video and some video has to be protected for chain-of-custody purposes. The WORM feature works great.

The OneFS file system is very simple and has an astronomical number of features that allow us to get very granular with permissions, policies, and archiving of data. It handles everything for you. It's one of the easiest storage solutions that we've ever implemented in the 12 years I've been working in this organization.

I also love the snapshot functionality. It's pretty much what everyone does in backup. It's a backup of your system, but it lets you set the frequency of the snapshots. That's very important to us because we take so many snapshots. That means we can recover up to six months back, if somebody makes a file change or deletes a file. It's like a versioning type of function. It probably isn't really special. A lot of backup software has it. But the snapshot functionality is what we utilize the most within the OneFS file system. In theory, you don't really have to back up your systems if you're taking snapshots.

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Eric Burgueño - PeerSpot reviewer
High-Performance Computing Services Manager at The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited

When we selected Isilon as our preferred storage provider, many considerations came into play, but the deciding factor was how little administration it requires. We no longer need a dedicated storage administrator looking after it. Instead, our Systems Engineers can handle the day-to-day operations without requiring in-depth expertise in storage management. The simplicity of the solution was a strong selling point when we first started looking into it. For example, when you have replicated clusters, you must ensure that you can actually failover between them in the event of a disaster. PowerScale makes setting up and checking the status of replication schedules extremely simple.

Over time, we started using more and more of its capabilities. I believe the most valuable feature we started using, beyond the initial scope for the solution, is the multi-protocol system that allows you to access the same set of files using different network protocols like NFS or SMB. PowerScale’s Unified Permission Model ensures that data security and access permissions are honoured regardless of whether the client is a Windows desktop or a Linux server. Our users can now access the data they need for their research, without having to deal with multiple credentials depending on the environment they are using, or having to rely on specific clients. The same file can be opened and edited from Windows Explorer or from the Linux command line, and we can guarantee that the ownership and permissions of that file will remain consistent. It reduces friction and cognitive overhead, which is what I value the most.

Data security and availability are also included in solution, out-of-the-box. Of course you still need to be aware of how to configure the different features to your use case, but from a data security and availability perspective, you can leverage replication schedules, snapshotting, increased redundancy at rest, and all of those features which we now consider a must-have. With PowerScale, I can have piece of mind that if a specific directory needs to be protected, it will be protected.

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Buyer's Guide
Dell PowerScale (Isilon)
July 2022
Learn what your peers think about Dell PowerScale (Isilon). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
611,060 professionals have used our research since 2012.
James Lowey - PeerSpot reviewer
CIO at a pharma/biotech company with 201-500 employees

There is a reason that we chose this platform to store this priceless data. We know it is resilient. It also provides data protection that helps me sleep at night. 

One of the most important factors about it is you can manage a lot of storage without a lot of people. Therefore, ease of management is really important for us because we are a nonprofit. We don't have a huge IT staff to support a pretty substantial IT infrastructure. So, ease of management is always a really crucial consideration.

Another aspect of the management that is super important is having the CloudIQ feature to monitor performance and other data remotely. We have four clusters that we manage. Having all those clusters, being able to have a single dashboard to take a look at the health of everything every morning, helps out a lot.

One of the nice things is that they have several different node types spread all the way from super high performance, flash-based storage nodes through more of what we consider an archive tier. So, we are able to use technologies, what Dell EMC has labeled SmartPools that will tier data automatically between different types of storage. So, we can ensure that hot data resides on the high-performance storage. Whereas, once data has gotten colder, then it can be pushed off to the low-performance storage to help control costs.

We have used the solution’s support for the S3 protocol, but in a limited use case. We are looking to expand that because we are doing more work towards cloud-based solutions. So, having the flexibility of S3 is important as we design new workloads that will be more cloud-centric. They will be able to use that protocol to access data on nodes without necessarily having to go back and refactor everything.

It is good and efficient when maximizing storage utilization. The operating system behind it, called OneFS, provides granularity, data protection, and control. So, you can actually adjust the amount of overhead being consumed for your data protection, depending upon what your needs are. It is pretty efficient at keeping data protected. At the end of the day, that is one of the most important things: Knowing that your data is safe.

Dell EMC keeps adding more features to the solution’s OneFS operating system. We have been iterating with them for quite some time. The solution is continually improving and becoming more robust and reliable. One of the latest things that really helped us out was the ability to perform upgrades without having cluster-wide outages, which is huge because we don't want to shut down operations unless we absolutely have to. Having that was a really big win for us. This saved us time. More importantly, it has kept our labs functioning during upgrades, as opposed to having shut down sequencers for a day while we go through and upgrade everything, which is important.

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Jace Gregg - PeerSpot reviewer
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.

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Keith Bradley - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of IT at NatureFresh™ 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.

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Rachel Bauer - PeerSpot reviewer
Chief Operations Officer & Acting CFO at Like a Photon

We have started to leverage the data from InsightIQ to be informed when quoting for future productions, and we're getting a better understanding of our usage and costs over a project duration.

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Maurizio Davini - PeerSpot reviewer
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 of 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.

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Technical Project Manager at a tech services company with 201-500 employees

I just heard my SME today say OneFS is the best feature of the whole solution. The continuum improvements that OneFS has kept within the industry and kept up with standards, the ease at which it can be deployed, and the ease at which it can be upgraded, all are key features of this system. 

A key feature that I love is scalability. I don't have to rebuild the cluster to add a node. It can be scaled up and out without taking my system down.

PowerScale helps consolidate data storage and multiple applications into a single platform for easier manageability. As an example, I’d probably use the scenario of when I ingest data from a partner, and then I use the capabilities within Isilon to distribute the data across the other clusters in my enterprise. While we like to think that we're running an enterprise environment, their definition of enterprise and my definition of an enterprise are not the same. The idea here is, that I'm able to take in data from one organization at one cluster, and then use the smart features and the other features of Isilon, one of the best-operating systems, to redistribute that data to any other cluster that needs it.

The impact PowerScale had on our company's storage efficiency has been really good. I just recently saw a report on this a few weeks ago. We're actually doing really well as far as compression and deduplication go. We've over-bought compared to capacity based on the deduplication and compression that we're getting out of the system right now.

We really overbought on capacity. We have sites that are only 20% used. Then again, that goes back to the de-duplication and compression we're getting out of Isilon. They should be at 45% to 50% consumption at this point. The deduplication and compression, however, are working well. We're only using 20% of the capacity. I'll have a hard time when I go on a life cycle lease and I will have a very hard time convincing leadership that I still need the capacity. When they start reading and seeing these reports, it'll create a problem for me as I’ll have to justify it. However, to be clear, it's a good problem to have.

PowerScale has helped free up our employees' time to focus on other business priorities. We were able to do things like due diligence and research on InsightIQ and DataIQ and were able to do product comparisons while not having to worry about Isilon. It's freed up the cycles on those guys really well. I've got them to a point now where I'm cross-training them into Avamar.

PowerScale has helped reduce our overall risk in that it's dependable. The data is always going to be there. I don't have to worry about my end users. It has reduced risk across the entire enterprise.

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Bill Sharp - PeerSpot reviewer
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.

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Geo-computing Manager at a energy/utilities company with 201-500 employees

Our users are able to easily roll back snapshots without going through IT.

An important feature for us is scalability.

This product gives us a backup system with everything online, which is a big win for us.

Having an on-premises solution like Isilon is better for us than a cloud-based solution in terms of both price and performance. Price-wise, moving to the cloud is an unknown cost, as opposed to a known one. Performance is affected by latency because the cloud data center is between 3,000 and 3,500 kilometers away. This distance has a significant effect on latency.

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Lead Infrastructure Architect at a transportation company with 10,001+ employees

The file-based dumping for SQL backups is great. We use that fairly heavily, especially with the flash-based nodes on Isilon. It's been our go-to platform for user-based file access.

The solution's flexibility for supporting various data workloads while keeping them protected is great. We integrate and have Avamar-based backups with Isilon. The protection is great.

Our main goal is to do disaster recovery with whatever solution we use and Isilon makes it pretty simple to replicate those workloads over to our secondary data center.

Cyber security, including ransom protection, is good. We haven't really leveraged a lot of those features as we should. We know that they're there and we work with our partners to help us implement those pieces for us.

The impact PowerScale has had on our organization's storage efficiency is positive. It's tough to talk about efficiency, as we love using it and we dump everything into it. What it retains gives us a great DD compression on the array. We find ourselves overusing it, however, we do have it plugged into Cloud IQ. That helps us with alerts to let us know when we're getting close to our thresholds for capacity.

PowerScale has helped us free up our employees' time to focus on other business priorities. They're not spending a lot of their time managing user files. Everything's managed from the array itself.

PowerScale helped reduce our overall risk. It helped us reduce our overall risk mainly due to the fact that we're replicating between data centers. We don't have to worry about a single point of failure within our data center. I can check on the health of our arrays really at any time with CloudIQ, and everybody sleeps better at night.

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Mitch Leigh - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior System Engineer at Cincinnati children's hospital

We have data that is accessed from multiple OS from different models and in departments in our company. The ability to serve up that data to all those different platforms is very useful.

One of the best features of Isilon is its reliable performance and ability to report on its performance. Reliability is really important in our environment, with a 24/7 shop that serves patients. In many instances, data access is critical.

Prior to Isilon, we had to access data from multiple different platforms. This solution offers unified storage and the ability to consolidate and migrate data which was a big step forward. It allowed us to cut costs by eliminating multiple platforms, putting it all on one array.

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Sr. Storage Engineer at a legal firm with 201-500 employees

We love the scalability with OneFS. It is a one-file system that just grows. It is able to keep up with our massive data and ingestion.

We don't use applications on Isilon, however, it manages the growth of our data and structured data.

The solution's flexibility for supporting various data workloads while keeping them protected is okay. It does the job. I didn't really think about it in terms of protection with its resiliency and its ability to grow.

It's important that PowerScale helps us secure data from cyber attacks, however, budgets control everything we do, so we can only use it as far as what our budget allows.

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Senior Systems Administrator at a insurance company with 501-1,000 employees

Our major use is for SMB and NFS file exports for the open systems area. Both are heavily used in our company.

PowerScale is used across different platforms to help consolidate data storage and multiple applications into a single platform. We have file systems that are both NFS, and they are being shared with our open systems. However, some are also SMBs, so they can get to it from their Windows systems as well. It's very helpful for our applications.

PowerScale cybersecurity, including its ransom protection, is very important to our organization. I've got a session coming up where I'm going to learn more about that. We had a presentation on that at my work with our technical support group.

The solution in general has allowed us to move off of multiple Windows boxes where they had huge data stores, and we migrated it to the Isilon. There is just one point of contact there. It's made it easier and more cost-effective.

PowerScale has helped free up our employees' time to focus on other business priorities, however, it's hard to assess an exact number.

It's easy to manage. The web UI is very intuitive, and there's CLI also that you can use to manage it.

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Manager at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

The ease of use of this solution has been the most valuable aspect as well as the SyncIQ and snapshot features. 

It assists with eliminating storage silos because it provides SMB and NFS protocols. PowerScale has also helped free up our employee's time to focus on other business priorities. 

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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.

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User at Government of Nova Scotia

The way it scales easily, is easy to use and its security are the most valuable features. 

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Manager Infrastructure at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees

The offloading of data from Isilon to ECS object storage has been cost-effective.

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The scalability of this solution has been most valuable. We have been able to start with a specified workload size and be able to double, triple, or tenfold it without having to change the environment.

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Project Manager at a government with 10,001+ employees

The fact that we were able to set it up, use it, and, for the most part, didn't have to worry about it after we had it set up has been valuable.

PowerScale's cybersecurity, including ransom protection, is very good. We've never had an issue with it.

This solution has helped free up employees to focus on other business priorities.

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DavidColeman - PeerSpot reviewer
Sales Engineer at a government with 11-50 employees

This has been a valuable solution for our business overall. It offers business continuity and replication features. 

PowerScale helps our clients consolidate data storage and multiple applications onto a single platform for easier manageability. By doing this, overall performance is improved and data is better protected. 

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Buyer's Guide
Dell PowerScale (Isilon)
July 2022
Learn what your peers think about Dell PowerScale (Isilon). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
611,060 professionals have used our research since 2012.