Diving Deeper into Isilon OneFS 7.0

At Thanksgiving last week, I couldn’t help but feel cheesy as I thought about all the things I was thankful for. One of the many items on my list was what we’ve been able to achieve here at Isilon this year. Two weeks ago we reached a very important internal milestone of making OneFS 7.0 available on the market.

I wrote about it then, and today I wanted to dive deeper into each of the four key areas that I discussed in my last post: Security, Performance, Data Protection, and Interoperability.  Some of this may look familiar, as I’ve pulled segments from that blog to round out this post, but bear with me as I really carve through each of the topics and show you the stuffing.


OneFS is built on a strong foundation of Enterprise security – supporting complete interaction with Enterprise directory services such as Microsoft’s Active Directory and open standards such as LDAP and NIS – backed by flexible multi-protocol permissions capabilities.

In OneFS 7.0, Isilon extends the simplicity and scalability of Scale-Out NAS into two key environments – private cloud and compliance – with a focus on Enterprise security. With the introduction of Authentication Zones, OneFS now supports multiple organizations which are logically isolated – allowing for organizations which require secure data separation, such as a legal and finance department, to co-exist on the same scale-out storage system with other organizations. IT departments can further consolidate into fewer, more scalable storage systems – ideally one – significantly improving efficiency and manageability.

OneFS 7.0 introduced Roles Based Administration, the strict separation of administration of the storage environment from access to the underlying file system information. This enables security conscious organizations to protect themselves from the latest threat to their IT infrastructure: inside attacks. With OneFS 7.0, administrators of the system can be prevented from accessing data or changing system properties that would allow them access.

Finally, 7.0 extends our highly scalable SmartLock application, which provides file-level retention demanded by compliance and regulatory environments, into organizations that require SEC 17a-4 compliant storage. OneFS 7.0 expands SmartLock to prevent administrators from tampering with locked files, enforces a system-wide compliance clock, and enables the auto-commit of sensitive data.

With OneFS 7.0, Scale-Out is now applicable for a much wider set of applications inside the most security conscious enterprise.

Data Protection

If the security capabilities above address data access and compliance issues, the new capabilities around data protection focus on protecting data from failure or natural disaster.

As I discussed in the last post, OneFS was designed from the ground up to have scalable data protection model. Rather than being designed around traditional RAID technologies, OneFS protects data rather than devices – and protects that data across multiple nodes. This enables OneFS to re-protect data much faster than traditional systems by eliminating the primary bottle-neck: a single disk drive. In addition, OneFS supports scalable and simple configuration of protection levels – up to four simultaneous failures for any particular set of information.

This intrinsic protection capability is backed up by a robust set of enterprise software designed for the different levels of insurance present in IT environments: snapshots, data replication, and tape backup.

OneFS provides a highly scalable snapshot implementation, SnapshotIQ, which allows for virtually unlimited snapshots at any point in the directory structure. With OneFS 7.0, SnapshotIQ technology is extended to support the quick restoration of a snapshot. In addition, the underlying snapshot infrastructure has been modified to allow for per-file writable snapshots: space-efficient, point-in-time file clones.

SyncIQ, the industry’s only scale-out replication technology, enables IT environments to keep their RPO constant as data grows, or decrease their RPO if the data change rate remains constant in the environment (regardless of capacity growth.) With OneFS 7.0, SyncIQ has been extended to simplify and accelerate disaster recovery and business continuance scenarios with integrated, push-button Failover and Failback technologies.

I’d be remiss not to point out that we have also greatly expanded the simplicity for provisioning large-scale storage clusters. With the addition of SmartPools auto-provisioning, an Isilon cluster needs virtually no configuration changes as it scales. OneFS will automatically segment and partition nodes into failure domains, allowing for a single file system to support up to four simultaneous failures per-domain.

With OneFS 7.0, Scale-Out is now applicable for a wider range of critical information; the degree to which information can be efficiently protected as never been more simple or scalable.


OneFS is a next-generation scale-out storage architecture – the combination of intelligent software, industry-standard hardware, and a high-speed network infrastructure – providing a unique linear scalability model, enabling customers to scale capacity and performance together. OneFS has been optimized for highly concurrent and sequential environments, the dominant workload necessary for high performance file sharing and file application environments.

With OneFS 7.0, Isilon extends the applicability of OneFS into non-sequential and smaller block I/O workflows – IT applications that exhibit more “block-like” behavior on top of a file system – in particular, latency-sensitive applications. In addition, OneFS 7.0 enables concurrent access to individual files, which both improves the I/O rate of non-sequential applications, but also doubles single-stream sequential applications. I have dubbed this last improvement “multi-threaded I/O”, which might sound simple, but is non-trivial to do correctly in a scale-out environment.

OneFS 7.0 significantly reduces the latency of small, unaligned I/Os by adding a globally coherent and reliable write-back cache – we have coined this the Endurant Cache (a little Isilon trivia at work here). This dramatically reduces the write latency for these workloads on Isilon, while still providing the simplicity and storage efficiency of a highly scalable file system

With OneFS 7.0, Scale-Out is now applicable for a much wider set of performance-sensitive applications – throughput, concurrent and latency-sensitive applications. These file workflows can all benefit from a storage system that scales performance with capacity in less than sixty seconds.


OneFS supports all industry-standard protocols: NFS, SMB/CIFS, HTTP and FTP. Earlier in 2012, Isilon led the storage industry by announcing native support for the Hadoop file protocol, HDFS. These protocols enable ubiquitous access and interoperability for file-based workflows – all information stored within OneFS can be accessed via any of these protocols simultaneously.

With OneFS 7.0, Isilon is providing specific integration with VMware through the VAAI and VASA APIs. These APIs, in combination with per-file cloning technologies and lower latency, significantly improve the virtualization experience on OneFS. VAAI enables space-efficient cloning, intelligent space reservation, and extended statistics. VASA links together VMware’s Storage DRS technology with Isilon’s SmartPools to optimize price and performance.

In addition to specific VMware integration, OneFS 7.0 provides the Isilon Platform API, a REST-based HTTP interface for automation, orchestration, and provisioning of an Isilon cluster. With the Platform API, 3rd-party applications and IT organizations will be able to control the complete suite of administrative capabilities within OneFS – simplifying the integration of data protection and provisioning.

In conclusion, Scale-Out has never been as accessible to enterprise IT as it is now, with OneFS 7.0 to manage the architecture. The set of applications, workloads, and use cases where Scale-Out technology dramatically improves performance, simplifies management, and increase efficiency have never been greater. The tipping point has been reached; with OneFS 7.0, EMC Isilon is the first Enterprise storage vendor to bring Scale-Out into the heart of the data center.

About the Author: Nick Kirsch