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Scale-Out Fun For Everyone?

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; a little sub-culture built up around it and many VMware labs have been 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 have another NAS product, one that I suspect over the long term will become the foundation of their NAS offerings; it is certainly important to their 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; 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….


  1. Matt Davis says:

    Free the Virtual Appliances! You’d think more vendors would want hobbyists (who tend to have input into purchasing decisions) have access to them.

  2. Brian Hall says:

    Yes!! That would be sweet.

  3. Jim Millard says:

    Bring it on: sometimes the vLabs just aren’t enough!

  4. andrew says:

    no chance of publishing the link? šŸ™‚

  5. GS Khalsa says:

    Free the VSAs please!

  6. Larry Orloff says:

    Please please please give people access to this.

  7. Phil Bradham says:

    There are LOTS of VSA’s and they should be out there…FREE THE VSA!!

  8. Howard Marks says:

    Virtual appliances want to be free.

  9. Josh says:

    I love this idea! For a long time I have liked the tech behind the EMC products but have hated their sales cycle. When I was a an EMC VAR it was hard to try to learn the product and that left us relying on the EMC sales and engineering teams that never seemed to be in sync. Since going back to be a customer I have simply avoided EMC because its not worth the hassle of the broken sales process.

    However if our team had access to to cool technology and the ability to review it in our labs and play with it then it would go a long way towards making me comfortable engaging the EMC sales channel. Because I would be coming from a position of knowledge and power now just a dumb customer.

  10. Philip Leighton says:

    I have been posting comments on blogs like this for years now and am constantly in hope that EMC would release their appliances, particularly the Enginuity one.

    Come on EMC make it happen – even if only for paying customers.


  11. Jean-Sebastien Labonte says:

    If EMC is serious about making Isilon the Flagship for the NAS big data market, they HAVE to release the appliance. It is usually the first contact we, power users / SAN and NAS enthusiast get with a product. I know I usually don’t recommend to my company that we purchase a product before I can get a few hours of lab on it.
    I promise I won’t be asking for anything else for Christmas šŸ™‚

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