EMC gets 'Mavericks' with Isilon file system

The next version of OneFS, code named Mavericks, drastically cuts access times as well as adding data protection and recovery features to complement the Isilon storage OS

EMC is to upgrade its Isilon network attached storage systems to introduce enterprise-grade data protection and recovery, as well as boost its performance.

The company gave details of its plans to update the OneFS operating system for its Isilon scale-out, file-based storage systems at the EMC World conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

The OneFS storage OS allows multiple Isilon NAS nodes to be managed as if they are a single, shared storage pool. The maximum size for a single file volume built on Isilon — using the new X400 Isilon platform also announced on Monday — is 15PB spread over 144 nodes.

The next version of the OneFS OS, code-named Mavericks, will be released in the second half of this year. It is designed to allow enterprise to tackle the 'big data' problem by introducing new data protection and recovery capabilities to complement Isilon's ability to hold petabytes of file-based, unstructured data.

Mavericks will allow Isilon storage systems to ensure compliance with a wider range of data security regulations, including with the most stringent SEC 17a-4 requirements. Access to data can be restricted by role, with separate rules governing storage administration and file system access. The file system will also be able to be split into different domains, to reflect differing security requirements within an organisation.

The OS will feature scale-out enterprise replication technology designed to simplify and accelerate disaster recovery and business continuity, with integrated push-button failover and failback, and a snapshot capability to restore the file system to an earlier state.

Typically 11 to 20 percent of the storage space within an Isilon cluster is taken up by overheads necessary to manage and protect the data, according to EMC.

The release of the Isilon X400 boosts the platform's maximum concurrent throughput to 107GB per second and its general performance to 1.6 million SpecSFS2008 CIFS operations per second.

Access times

The Mavericks upgrade will not increase the peak performance of the Isilon platform, but will reduce average latency when writing by 50 per cent for I/O intensive applications, the company said.

"It's a dramatic decrease in the latency for write operations. In some workflows, we've seen latency decrease from an average of seven milliseconds down to less than one millisecond," said Nick Kirsch, director of product management for Isilon Systems, part of EMC.

It's a dramatic decrease in the latency for write operations.

– Nick Kirsch, Isilon, EMC

The reduced latency should allow Isilon storage systems to be used to support a wider range of virtualised workloads.

"This low-latency I/O is going to make VMware workflows much more palatable on an Isilon system," said Kirsch.

"Whereas today that 6ms range means we're only good at the development and test end of VMware workloads, with Mavericks we're going to be able to take on much more demanding workloads. It will allow for a higher tier of the VMware landscape, such as VDI infrastructure and virtual servers for Exchange and SQL, that sort of thing, the tier-two, business-critical functions," he added.

As well as reducing write latency, Mavericks will double single-stream write performance, according to EMC.

Mavericks should also make it easier to use Isilon NAS for virtualisation, allowing integration with VMware virtualisation products through VAAI and VASA APIs. The new OS also gives third-party ISVs and IT departments a more robust automation and control interface for Isilon storage systems, using a new REST-based platform API.

The Mavericks upgrade will be free to existing Isilon customers with a support contract. Mavericks will not increase the pricing of Isilon products to new customers after its introduction, Kirsch said.

By the time it is released, Mavericks will have been subject to about 18 months work within the Isilon R&D lab, which has a staff of close to 200 engineers.

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