All-Flash Dell EMC Isilon offers high-end complement to recent entry level offering

What was formerly Project Nitro will hit the streets in 2017, with a single 4U Isilon Scale-Out system reaching a maximum of 924TB of capacity, 250,000 IOPS and up to 15GB/s of aggregate bandwidth in a 4-node cluster.

nitro-1-1024x556AUSTIN – At Dell EMC World, Dell EMC announced the forthcoming availability in the new year of a new all-flash version of its Isilon scale-out NAS offering. The company is calling the new offering a game changer, which can deliver surreal levels of capacity, IOPS and bandwidth. It thus continues the focus since the companies’ unification of pushing out Isilon’s boundaries and capacities. This product strengthens Isilon at the high end of the market. Seven weeks ago, they strengthened the low end with IsilonSD Edge, an entry level software-only bundle designed for the channel, and which will serve that part of the market for whom Isilon has been only a dream in the past.

“Isilon now has almost 8000 customers worldwide,” said Sam Grocott, SVP of Marketing of Dell EMC Emerging Technologies, one of the original Isilon employees before the company was acquired by EMC. “We pioneered concept of scale-out NAS with its focus on unstructured data, solving scalability and complexity issues of storing thousands of terabytes of data.”

Under EMC, Isilon had what Grocott termed a unique go-to-market strategy. It was highly verticalized, particularly in media and entertainment, and included partners who were focused on the target verticals. Vancouver, which is a hot spot for this particular vertical, has always been a key Canadian market for Isilon as a result.

EMC’s combination with Dell first saw a major initiative at the low end, with IsilonSD Edge.

“Being part of Dell made us see the commercial and channel opportunity as a net new opportunity, because of Dell’s strong commercial channel market,” Grocott said. “Last month, we launched a new software-only three node cluster at a price to the channel partner of $20,000, half of what the entry level price had been before. This will go downstream, based on the Dell commercial channel.”

The new Isilon All-Flash, on the other hand, is positioned upstream. The market doesn’t really change, but Grocott said it becomes a much stiffer offering against the competition, which he described as “NetApp, NetApp, and NetApp.” It was introduced at EMC World this May, as Project Nitro.

“Isilon used flash previously, but as a hybrid configuration for metadata,” he said. “Isilon All Flash now has dedicated nodes that are 100 per cent flash.” That makes them ten times more dense, and ten times faster than the Isilon S-Series, which had previously been the top of the line product.

David Goulden, President of the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Dell EMC, stressed these numbers when he formally unveiled Isilon All-Flash at the main conference’s opening keynote on Wednesday.

“The new All-Flash Isilon – the old Project Nitro – has 10x the throughput and 10x the density of the Isilon nodes it will replace,” Goulden said. “That’s an incredible breakthrough. Isilon is our foundation for the modern data lake, and now can come with all-flash.”

The metrics are impressive. A single 4U Isilon Scale-Out NAS All-Flash system includes a 4-node Isilon cluster with a maximum of 924TB of capacity, 250,000 IOPS and up to 15GB/s of aggregate bandwidth. That single cluster can support up to 100 systems with 400 nodes – meaning totals of 92.4 petabytes of capacity, 25 million and up to 1.5TB/s of total aggregate bandwidth. These are available in multiple configurations, and the all-flash can be combined with traditional Isilon clusters as well.

Security and compliance requirements are met though role-based access control (RBAC), secure access zones, write-once read many (WORM) data protection, file system auditing, and data-at-rest encryption with self-encrypting drives (SEDs)

“This is the tip of the spear for the high end of the market,” Grocott said. “There is nothing faster. There is nothing more dense.”

It’s a spear Grocott says the channel will be able to use, even though the product is still a very complex one under the hood.

“It is complex, but we still have by far the simplest and easy to deploy systems for traditional NAS,” he said. “All-flash Isilon complements the strategic role that partners who work this part of the market play. Architectural knowledge of how to optimize a workload is key in its verticals, and partners are strong in those verticals. The partner community will be critical for this because they give us scale in those verticals.”

Isilon All-Flash scale-out NAS storage is available for customers to pre-order now. It will be generally available in 2017.