Yo, storage geeks: Fancy a bit of scale-out fun time?
Xmas comes early... for me at least
Storagebod Recently I’ve been playing with a new virtual appliance; well new to me in that I’ve only just got my hands on it. It’s one of the many that our friends in EMC have built and it is one which could do with a wider audience.
A few years ago Chad Sakac managed to make the Celerra virtual appliance available to one and all, and a little sub-culture built up around it, and many VMware labs were built around it. When the Celerra and Clariion morphed into the VNX range, the virtual appliance followed. Nicholas Weaver further enhanced it and made it better and easier to use. It’s a great way for the amateur to play with an enterprise class NAS and get some experience. I suspect it is also a great way for EMC to get community feedback and input on the usability and features in the VNX. A win/win as we like to say.
But EMC has another NAS product, one that I suspect over the long term will become the foundation of its NAS offerings; it is certainly important to its Big Data aspirations... yes, the Isilon range of scale-Out NAS. I’d always suspected that there must be an appliance version kicking around - I mean anyone who has ever played with an Isilon box will have realised that it really is just an Intel server. You can order the SuperMicro motherboard which it is built on and pretty build your own if you wanted.
At a recent meeting, I was talking about the need for a training/test system for some of my guys to play on and lamenting that I probably could not justify the cost, and our Isilon TC said: "Why don’t I send you links to the virtual appliances?"
I bit his hand off and now I have a little virtual Scale-Out NAS to play with. It’s pretty much as easy to set up as the real thing without all the hassles of racking and stacking. I’ve got it running with 5 virtual nodes with a small amount of disk and can mess around with to my heart’s content.
I wish that you guys could also have a play but perhaps the guys from the Isilon team are bit nervous that we might do some silly things like put it into a production environment. I guess some of you might be that stupid but it didn’t stop them putting out the Celerra/Clariion version. So EMC can you give the community an early Christmas present and get the Isilon appliance out there?
Scale-Out NAS is going to be a really important growth sector. OneFS is a great product and it takes away a lot of the pain in building them and helps to demystify the whole thing.
At worst, a few geeks like me get to have some fun and you get some interesting feedback but I suspect you might find some people doing some interesting things with it and build a decent community.
And IBM, perhaps you could do the same and build a SONAS appliance and get that out as well?
I’d love to see EMC make the Enginuity appliance generally available but that does have stupid memory and CPU requirements, so I’m not holding my breath for that… ®
My personal experience is yes. As far as I can tell the VM is fully featured and works identically to a real Isilon node or cluster. The main issue is to test out any licensed features just as on a real cluster you will need a license key but my Isilon contact was quite happy to give me a set of license keys for me to test snapshots, replication and other features.
If you want to kick the tires and see if it works in your environment or with your application I think it is a great tool to get.
How fully featured are these appliances? For example, could I use one as a target device for testing SNMP based systems management tools, would MIBs work properly without the physical tin being present?
The VM is generally available for the asking. They don't put it up where anyone can get it but you just have to ask your salesrep or TC and you can get it. It is a completely function version of the Isilon OneFS software with the only limitation being that you have a limited amount of disk space and can't add to it but it won't stop you with working with it. Be sure to ask for a set of evaluation licenses so that you can experiment with the software features too.
The only issue is that it is a VM and so its performance will be totally dependent upon the quality of hardware you run it on. I have run it under Fusion, Workstation and VMplayer. I believe it works with Xen but haven't tried it.
As the article says it is a pretty nice bit of software to play around with to get a feel for if it is something you might be interested in.