Dell’s New PowerScale Unstructured Storage: 10 Key Features

From new Amazon S3 and public cloud integrations to a revamped OneFS operating system, here are the 10 key features inside Dell Technologies’ new PowerScale storage product line, which is replacing Dell EMC Isilon.


Dell’s New Software, Public Cloud Integration And More

Dell Technologies Tuesday launched its new flagship file and object data storage product line, PowerScale, setting what it calls a “new industry standard” for how organizations capture and leverage unstructured data across public clouds and on-premises in a compact 1U footprint.

“This is the next-level unstructured data storage solution made for the data era that we are now in. We feel like this is the new industry standard,” said Scott Millard, senior vice president, specialty sales, global channel, alliances and OEM at Dell Technologies, in an interview with CRN. “I really think this launch turns on a whole new market opportunity at the edge for all of our partners, and there’s also tremendous potential by having it directly connected to multiple public clouds.”

Fresh off its new midrange storage line, PowerStore, the Round Rock, Texas-based worldwide storage market leader unveiled a slew of new software and hardware with PowerScale, providing the foundation it says companies need to unlock the potential of their data no matter where it resides. PowerScale will replace Dell EMC’s popular Isilon product line.

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CRN breaks down the 10 most important software, hardware and technology capabilities PowerScale is bringing to the storage market.

New DataIQ Software Solves Data Management Issues

Dell’s new DataIQ software allows customers and partners to tag, track, analyze and report on unstructured data—which is typically uncategorized and found in silos—along with the ability to intelligently move data to where it’s needed. Included with PowerScale appliances at no additional cost, DataIQ software breaks down data silos by delivering a single view of file and object data cross Dell EMC, third-party and public cloud storage environments.

“Data management is one of the biggest unsolved challenges for our customers today. That’s what DataIQ will solve for customers,” said Caitlin Gordon, Dell’s vice president of product marketing, storage and data protection, in an interview with CRN.

Gordon said DataIQ will first discover the data across all of its unstructured portfolio including PowerScale, PowerStore and Dell EMC ECS. “It will be able to discover all the data across the file data, the unstructured data, and it creates that global search and index across public clouds,” she said. “Then you can discover the data and better understand what that data is—whether it’s a file or object, what type of meta-data is associated with it, etc. Then you can actually do something with that like set up the policies to be able to logically group this data no matter where it resides.”

With DataIQ, customers can gain better control over their data and ensure the right teams have access to it by making sure data is stored on the correct tier within their storage environment.

OneFS Operating System For PowerScale

Best known for being the operating system for powering Dell EMC’s Isilon storage line, Dell’s new OneFS operating system for PowerScale includes new capabilities such as enhanced data reduction technology, Amazon S3 object access and support for Ansible, Kubernetes and OpenShift.

In addition, the API and policy-driven OneFS version 9.0 has now been decoupled from Dell hardware.

“By decoupling the OneFS software and making it software-defined, it’s really enabled us to deploy on PowerEdge servers, which immediately opens up the edge as well as some new capabilities in the cloud,” said Dell’s Gordon. “We’re bringing the power of OneFS to edge locations and enabling channel partners bring all of OneFS now out to a broader customer base because they can consume it not only at a lower price point but in a smaller footprint, which makes a big difference.”

New support for protocols including FTP, NFS, SMB and HDFS will allow customers to run a large number of traditional and modern applications without compatibility concerns. With OneFS automation, organizations can auto-balance data, eliminate hot spots and discover and add nodes to existing OneFS clusters online.

The PowerScale Family

The PowerScale platform is built on Dell’s PowerEdge servers. The new family features new 1U PowerEdge-based PowerScale nodes and existing Isilon all-flash, hybrid and achieve nodes running the OneFS 9.0 operating system. PowerScale provides the performance needed to handle demanding artificial intelligence, analytics, the Internet of Things, digital media, health-care and life sciences workloads.

The Dell product line includes PowerScale F600 All-NVMe and PowerScale F200 All-Flash solutions. It can deliver up to 15.8 million input-output operations per second (IOPS), and new all-flash PowerScale nodes are up to five times faster than their Isilon predecessor. Enhanced inline data reduction makes the platform up to four times more efficient than previous Isilon versions.

“The feedback from our partners has been, ‘We need a lower capacity and a lower-cost entry point for scale-out NAS, especially to open up these edge opportunities. We also need to expand our cloud capabilities,’” said Dell’s Millard. “Those have been two things we’ve heard strongly from the partners, and that’s what we’ve done with PowerScale.”

Public Cloud Integration, Google Cloud Service

PowerScale for multi-cloud can directly connect to all major public clouds as a managed service, ideal for customers looking to move or deploy demanding applications in the cloud. PowerScale allows seamless mobility to public clouds including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

“We have our OneFS [software] capability either natively available through Google Cloud or directly connected to multiple public clouds. It’s really taking this software-defined architecture of OneFS and enabling our customers to accelerate innovation,” said Dell’s Gordon. “With PowerScale, we can deploy in more flexible locations, support more use cases and really help our customers get to that innovation faster.”

Dell Technologies Cloud PowerScale for Google Cloud is a native cloud service that combines the performance, scale and consistent experience of PowerScale with the simplicity and economics of Google Cloud, according to Gordon.

“You can marry all the incredible analytics algorithms that Google has built into their platform with this impressive scale-out NAS platform PowerScale,” said Gordon.

Introducing Amazon S3 Access

PowerScale’s OneFS software features broad multiprotocol support including new Amazon S3 support for modern applications relying on object storage. Dell’s Gordon said the new integration with Amazon S3 enables customers to develop cloud-native applications and leverage a single infrastructure on the back end.

“It gives you really an incredibly comprehensive connectivity and access to a single file system, thousands of connections, multiprotocols—all connecting to the same file system at the same time. So you can support this diverse number of different types of file workloads, all with a single operation and single file system,” she said.

PowerScale allows S3 file and object access across the same platform with no need to migrate and copy data to and from a secondary source.

“So customers can read and write data simultaneously through NFS and S3 now. They’re not going to have to migrate data from one platform to another to leverage NFS on one and S3 on another—they can leverage a single platform and make it easy to have file and object access at the same time, to the same file system, on the same platform,” she said. “From an overall IT infrastructure standpoint, you keep a single piece of infrastructure in place.”

PowerScale F200 ‘Ideal’ For The Edge With Low Entry Price Point

A major focus in the new PowerScale F200 all-flash platform was to create a low-cost entry offering with high bandwidth that would open up new doors for channel partners.

“The F200 has a small footprint, a 1U appliance, with incredibly high bandwidth that is really ideal for some of these edge locations so that you can process data at the edge in real time and then simply send the results back to the core data center,” said Gordon, adding that the starting price point for the F200 is “lower” than other competitive offerings.

For the all-flash PowerScale F200, Millard said Dell has streamlined the special pricing process and created channel sales incentives as well as built-in margin protection for partners versus direct and non-deal registered partners. “The F200 is going to tuck into our programs and incentives focused on the velocity side of the business,” he said.

No Node Left Behind,’ No Forklift Upgrades Ever

Dell said no forklift upgrades will be necessary in the “migration-free” PowerScale design with the ability to simply add nodes to any cluster.

“This is not a, ‘Take your controller and swap it out with something new.’ It’s add a node, it will discover it, auto-balance it and if you want to retire a node you can do that—all seamlessly, all nondisruptively,” said Dell’s Gordon.

“When you buy what was an Isilon node, and now going forward a PowerScale node, you will never have to leave that node behind. You can keep it in your cluster, in your file system, and when you want a new one, it’s going to automatically discover that. You can add that node quickly and it will automatically balance it. If you do need to retire an old node, you can do that very simply with no downtime at all.”

Gordon said PowerScale’s AutoBalance scale-out ability automatically balances data across the cluster to make sure customers are utilizing their assets in the most efficient way possible. “Of course, there’s great resilience built in as well because of that multinode architecture,” she added.

CloudIQ Included With PowerScale

Dell EMC’s proactive health monitoring software, CloudIQ, is included in the new PowerScale storage line. CloudIQ infrastructure monitoring and analytics software combines machine learning and human intelligence to provide customers with real-time performance and capacity analysis as well as historical tracking for a single view of their infrastructure.

“CloudIQ is all about reducing risk so you can identify and avoid issues and really get to troubleshooting quickly,” said Gordon. “You can plan ahead with our capacity forecasting and overall improve productivity because not only does CloudIQ come with PowerScale and PowerStore, but in all of our storage platforms. It will be coming across our entire infrastructure portfolio from Dell Technologies as well. … A channel partner can be the one who [is] proactively monitoring a data center’s health.”

Dell Technologies On Demand

The new unstructured storage line is part of the consumption-based Dell Technologies On Demand program via Dell Financial Services where customers can buy storage capacity as needed.

By leveraging Dell Technologies On Demand, PowerScale customers can respond to workload spikes and new service requests with elastic capacity and cloud economics. There are several flexible pay-per-use choices with short- and long-term commitment options for PowerScale including a one-year term for flexible consumption.

There are three different consumption and as-a-service offerings available for customers to choose from in Dell Technologies On Demand: Pay As You Grow, Data Center Utility And Flex On Demand. Dell’s metering-based approach is Flex On Demand, in which customers pay only for the technology needed, while providing access to ready buffer capacity with payments that adjust up and down to match usage.

Scale Without Disruption

PowerScale clusters can scale from 11 TB of raw capacity to 60 PB and millions of file operations without disruption or costly downtime for customers. Nodes can be added to either PowerScale or an existing Isilon cluster in just 60 seconds.

Through flexible failover policies, PowerScale delivers up to 85 percent storage utilization across a cluster and can sustain multinode failures.

Research firm IDC predicts that by 2025, 80 percent of data is going to be unstructured, while Gartner is projecting unstructured data capacity to triple over the next five years driven by new use cases like critical Hadoop, machine, deep learning workloads and the edge.

“This launch really turns on a whole new market opportunity at the edge for our partners as well as those who have strong vertical industry practices,” said Millard. “It’s an exciting time to be at Dell.”