Dell Technologies World starts today and if your organization is considering Dell EMC PowerScale (formally Isilon) for your file or unstructured data storage, here are five things to consider before signing on the dotted line.

1. Can you really use 100% of the usable storage capacity you buy?

Oftentimes, buying Isilon can feel a lot like going to the local car dealer, haggling over the price of a car, thinking you have struck a deal and then, when your car is finally delivered, being told you can only use three of the four tires you bought, and needed. You would be slowly clunking away as you drove down the highway feeling very frustrated that you didn’t get what you paid for.

Purchasing Isilon storage can often feel very similar. Given the surge in machine-generated data (which is often composed of small files) understanding how data protection is handled for small files is key to getting the most out of your storage budget. One thing that often catches system administrators by surprise is what we call the “small file tax” (See my related blog post here).

2. Is your productivity being hampered by incessant tree walks and complex management?

A “tree-walk” is a detailed scan of the entire file system, used by Dell EMC Isilon to determine the status of data and/or the system’s performance. Given the billions of files that organizations are trying to manage today, these tree walks can take hours or days. By their very nature, these extensive and time-consuming tree walks are often outdated by the time they finish, if they finish at all.

Does Isilon provide real-time visibility into your file system’s capacity, throughput, and IOPS? Technically the answer might be yes, but at an additional cost and only if you can get the tree-walks to complete while the data is still relevant. Isilon has a tool called InsightIQ that can be purchased separately to provide information into your storage environment, but only after it does a file scan or a tree walk.

3. Are you being held hostage with vendor lock-in nickel and dime-ing?

One way for storage vendors like Isilon to make themselves “sticky” – meaning hard for you to move away from – is to run their software only on hardware that they create. Initially these solutions might be competitive, but inevitably the market innovation will pass them by and you’re left with being tied to an old architecture that runs on dated hardware.

Being locked into a single vendor’s solutions prevents you from taking advantage of new technologies such as the cloud and limits how easily you can adapt to a changing world – think of how the last few months have changed the workforce during the COVID pandemic.

Dell EMC’s software architecture is overly complex and has evolved in a Frankenstein-ian way. Software that has been cobbled together over decades via internal development and/or acquisition is often not only difficult to implement and upgrade, it is difficult to procure. Isilon is a collection of tools that you need to wade through to make sure you’re getting everything you need and often ends up costing more than anticipated. With Isilon, you can also expect that new major features will be offered to you for an additional charge.

4. Do they have a real path to the cloud?

It is important to understand how legacy vendors, most of which offer systems that were designed before the cloud was even a concept, implement their cloud solutions.

Having a different file system in the cloud than the one you have on-prem is sub-optimal. Having a file system that runs with a managed service provider (MSP) and links to the major cloud vendors and works on proprietary hardware does not solve this problem either.

Dell EMC has taken different approaches depending on the cloud vendor, but in general you can think of Isilon as being “adjacent” to the cloud, not running in the cloud. Dell EMC calls this model “cloud-attached.”

Isilon runs in the MSP Faction to provide cloud services. Although Faction has seven data centers in the United States and two in Europe, there will always be a response time delay due to the fact that there is an extra connection between the Faction Datacenter and the cloud vendors. It is a simple physics problem.

Dell EMC and Faction Cloud Architecture

Finally, being able to enable Isilon in a multicloud environment is problematic in that the MSP is the center of the infrastructure which can cause delays and potential outages. Optimally there is no center or hub of the infrastructure, and every on-prem cluster and cloud cluster can talk directly with any other cluster. Isilon, being adjacent to the cloud, is unable to do this seamless multicloud communication and management.

5. Is your current customer experience painful? Do you feel like just a number?

Dell EMC’s customer support can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming. You’re forced to open a ticket where you become just a number, and more often than not the support team just wants to close that ticket as quickly as possible. The focus is not on how well they solve your problem or answer your question, but how many tickets they close out during the day.

On top of this, callers often have to endure numerous, time-consuming escalations because the first-level support team is unable to answer your question or solve your problem.

Also, don’t forget that for this terrible customer support experience, Dell EMC charges you a pretty penny.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here are a couple of Qumulo customers sharing about the terrible customer support experience that they had with Dell EMC. The first is from a screenshot from an Isilon customer who is moving to Qumulo joking that the standard response they receive back from Isilon is to “send the log’s.”

In contrast, the quote here from Gartner Peer Reviews, is from a new Qumulo customer that had previously used Isilon.

“They (Qumulo) are a great company and passionate about customer service. We also looked at Dell EMC and could not imagine why I was considering them in the past due to the great experience we have had today with Qumulo.”

— IT Infrastructure Supervisor, services industry

How is Qumulo different?

Check out the detailed differences between Isilon and Qumulo here.

With Qumulo, you can use 100% of your usable storage capacity.

You shouldn’t have to choose between utilization and performance—but that’s the position Dell EMC has put its customers in. Your data is too important to leave with a storage vendor with a loose grip on the concept of “usable capacity.” Qumulo delivers just what it says – usable capacity is just that and that you can use 100% of it. Read more in our blog post.

Don’t believe us? Check this out this post from Ray Lucchesi, President and Founder of Silverton Consulting (“Storage that provides 100% performance at 99% full”), who was also initially skeptical.

Qumulo understood early on that it’s very inefficient to protect small files simply by creating copies of them.

When managing small files, you need to be aware of the “small file tax” you might be incurring. In the example below, the small file tax was significant! In order to store 9.49TB of small file data, Dell EMC Isilon required 33.2TB – a tax of 23.7TB on file storage of 9.49TB. Wow! You can store billions of small files just as efficiently as large ones.

Isilon system migrated to Qumulo’s file data platform

Dell EMC Isilon before                         Qumulo’s file data platform after

Qumulo provides integrated, real-time visibility (included from day one) so you can have instant and accurate information on capacity, throughput, and IOPS.

Real-time visibility built-in as an integral part of the system, where real-time data can be accessible via a REST API to make workflow automation easy. This real-time information is provided in a simple-to-use GUI that allows you to drill down and obtain details such as the IP address and the exact file.

People often don’t believe we can do real-time visibility until they actually see it. See for yourself in this video demonstration from Storage Field Day of our data management and real-time analytics from Qumulo’s Keith Nargi here.

Qumulo’s Real-Time Analytics

Qumulo doesn’t care what or whose platform you run our software on.

Our file data platform is software-defined and is designed to run in user space on Linux. This enables all the functionality you need to run as software, which is the perfect environment for rapid innovation.

Qumulo’s file system runs on industry-standard x86 servers, HPE, Fujitsu, AWS and Google Cloud. You can transfer the license at any time between current and future platforms, giving you complete control and flexibility of your environment.

Qumulo is subscription-based and all-inclusive.

All-inclusive means you get everything – auditing, real-time analytics, and all new features, as long as the subscription is up-to-date. No surprises.

Qumulo is designed to scale-on demand.

Once you decide to increase your storage you just buy another node, plug it in, and we automatically rebalance everything. Your additional storage is ready to use. Optimize your environment, your way!

Qumulo recognized from day one that the cloud would be a key part of IT storage strategies.

We designed, and continue to develop, the entire file data platform to work exactly the same on-prem as it does in the cloud. This means that you have the same functionality and user interface in a hybrid cloud or multicloud environment.

We don’t just aim for customer satisfaction, we aim for customer delight.

At Qumulo, we don’t offer “customer support,” we have a team dedicated to customer success. This might seem like a small nuance, but helping our customers be successful is what we are all about, and what our entire company is focused on.

Qumulo provides unmatched customer satisfaction, with net promoter scores (NPS) often in the mid-to-high 80s. With Qumulo, you can speak directly to a dedicated team via Slack, offering instant communication with experts who not only know our product inside and out, they know how you are using our file data platform and the value it provides your company.

You have an open line of communication to the experts until your problems are solved or your questions are answered. You will never be asked, “Can I close the ticket now?”.

Hear directly from our customers why they choose Qumulo

Hear directly from our customers during this upcoming webinar on Nov. 18 “Why upgrade to Qumulo from Isilon? Step into the future with Qumulo.”

Contact us if you’d like to set up a meeting or request a demo. And subscribe to our blog for more helpful best practices and resources!