Dell EMC upgrades Isilon, Unity elements of storage portfolio

Dell EMC unveils a new Isilon scale-out system, the F810, which has built in data compression capabilities. They have also enhanced their Unity platform with the OE 4.5 software release.

Dell EMC has made a pair of announcements impacting different parts of their storage portfolio. They have added a new entry to their scale-out Isilon solution for unstructured data, the F810, which compared to the existing F800, is aimed at use cases where the customer data benefits from its built-in data compression.  The company also made its first release of its ClarityNow unstructured data and workload management software – the fruits of last summer’s acquisition of DataFrameworks. The other news involves Unity, one of Dell EMC’s two mid-range storage families. The new Operating Environment 4.5 release is a significant one with expanded software features like advanced data reduction, data protection, and management functions. Also announced was the Dell EMC Unity Cloud Edition, which lets Unity run as a VM in a VMware Cloud environment. The initial qualification is for VMware Cloud on AWS.

The new system is the all-flash Dell EMC F810, a complement to the existing F800 system designed for specific use cases where data benefits from its built-in data compression functionality. It’s a 4U storage system that delivers up to 250,000 IOPS and 15GB/sec throughput in a single chassis configuration, and scales up to 9 million IOPS and 540GB/sec in a 144 node cluster. The real secret sauce here though isn’t the impressive performance and capacity, but new inline data compression functionality. Depending on the specific dataset, Isilon F810 inline data compression can provide up to a 3:1 reduction in storage needs.

“The Isilon F810 will be really helpful for customers looking for performance and scalability, but in a way that reduces storage costs,” said Mike Noble, senior product marketing manager at Dell EMC, who handles the Isilon portfolio. “The big difference with F810 is the data compression capability that is built in, something that the F800 does not have. This is ideal for customers who have datasets that lend themselves well to this, as it will help them reduce their overall cost per TB. It would apply to use cases like EDA [Electronic Design Automation] as well as genomics and life sciences. It would be less pertinent in verticals like media and entertainment, where some of their applications have a built-in compression functionality, so there is not much more that this can provide. Those customers are well served by the F800.”

The F810 costs more than the F800, but customers who lower their storage costs significant through that 3:1 data compression ratio save significantly on operational use.

“There is a price premium for the F810, but their effective cost will be lower because they can store a lot more data,” Noble said. “The customers for both systems are ones who need the performance of all-flash, so the nature of the underlying data and its suitability for compression determines which is the appropriate choice.”

The other part of the unstructured data announcement was Dell EMC’s initial release of their new ClarityNow unstructured data and workload management software.

“ClarityNow came to Dell EMC from last year’s acquisition of DataFrameworks, and this its first release within the Dell EMC fold,” Noble noted. “Think of it as a heterogeneous management tool for customers who don’t really know where their data is. ClarityNow  is a data management product aimed at helping customers with unstructured data in on-prem and cloud storage. It lets customers unlock the data in their siloes, getting to it and putting the data into the most suitable storage environments. A lot of customers have both Isilon and Dell EMC ECS, and this software will help to manage across both of those environments – file storage with Isilon and object with ECS and in cloud storage.”

The Dell EMC Unity OE 4.5 announcement was made at the same time, but impacts a very different part of the portfolio, midrange storage..

“We are not only improving the core functionality of Unity, but as customers look to a hybrid cloud strategy, Unity is ideally suited to handle both on-prem and hybrid cloud implementations,” said Bob Fine, director of product marketing at Dell EMC.

Inline deduplication has been extended, with Advanced In-line Dynamic Pattern Detection that considers all data patterns.

“The actual savings from the dedupe remain he same as before – about 3:1 and applicable to both block and file data,” Fine said. “However, it improves the overall coverage of dedupe because it now covers more deduplications and more data types than it could before.”

The Metrosync for Unity synchronous file replication that was introduced in OE 4.4 has now been enhanced.

“Metrosync Manage now provides more coverage than it did before,” Fine said. “It involves the depth of the feature set, and more granular options and failover capabilities.”

Fine noted a new addition is new software to prevent file data loss, with file-level retention capabilities that will protect files from modification or deletion until a specified retention date.

“This is really applicable in enterprise compliance use cases, and is based on the type of protocol that will be supported,” he said.

Finally, native high availability [HA] has been added for the software-defined Dell EMC UnityVSA Professional Edition with 2-node, 2-core, and Tie Breaker Node for 10, 25, and 50TB capacity offerings.

“This is something which is entirely new, as there was no HA mode at all before,” Fine noted.

Dell EMC also announced the Unity Cloud Edition, which provides a full version of Unity in a VMware Cloud environment, with comprehensive UFS64 file services, cloud-based DR with native asynchronous replication, and scalable test and development environments which require no additional hardware. Initial qualification for VMware Cloud on AWS.