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By | Chris Mellor 24th November 2010 09:55

Isilon may stay on Seattle scene

EMC plans to run it as an 'arm's length' division (allegedly)

Opinion The gossip around the water coolers of the storage world is that EMC is going to run Isilon like VMware, as a separate business unit.

This is unverified, but my source is quite respectable. The guy who told me heard it from the office cleaner who emptied the waste paper bin of an EMC exec so close to Pat Gelsinger that they use the same office building – you know, the big one in Hopkinton ... so treat this is as an interesting and possibly true rumour. [Disclaimer - this is a joke. We have no relationship with anyone who knows the cleaners at Hopkinton. We don't even know if they have cleaners.]

Isilon's OneFS operating system recently had iSCSI access added to it, providing block access to a hugely scaled-out filer system built of clustered nodes. We are hearing that this will be the basis for EMC's unified storage platform in the future, not the CLARiiON/Celerra combination.

With iSCSI access to Isilon-stored data already here, it will be easy, relatively, to add Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) access to the data as well, and then to add physical Fibre Channel access on top of that. Hey presto: we have a scale-out unified storage technology. We are hearing things about an ability to grow or shrink storage volumes (LUNs) dynamically as part of this.

What we are also hearing is that an EMC Celerra response to a NetApp storage bid for a VMware/NFS application scenario is not a winning idea: witness NetApp's success in selling into these environments and gaining market share. The EMC perception is that Isilon storage gives NetApp strong competition and that Isilon has been winning lots of business. It gives EMC a strong counter to NetApp bids into VMware/NFS application environments as Isilon clustering is a whole lot stronger than NetApp's ONTAP in cluster mode.

Isilon could remain headquartered in Seattle, a long way west of Hopkinton, and the operation would carry on unmolested. This separation seems an odd idea though. VMware was a server-based operation with no technology sharing in its base operations with EMC's storage heartland.

Isilon is different. Its technology would appear to be directly comparable with a unified CLARiiON/Celerra technology, but with stronger scale-out abilities, and the ideal would seem to be a melding of these two unified storage stacks. It's a puzzlement. ®

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