[UPDATE: 5/7/2016 – 9:30am ET] – general updates and corrections.
One thing I really love about EMC is everywhere you look, there’s secret projects, innovative efforts that are forked off, efforts to disrupt ourselves, investments and acquisitions always in flight.
I take pride in trying to keep a mental map of everything going on, and staying as dialed in as I can be. But sometimes, I totally miss something.
That’s not a bummer, because when that inevitable moment of discovery comes – instead of discovering something that is half-baked, I discover something that is nearly done. update: by “done” what I meant here is that unlike a “from a zero start” project, or an investment in a new startup, this is something that has dates, targets, and has a target to “first customers” that is measured in months, not years. Note that later in the article the date we’re putting out is “2017” for release.
That’s the case with Project Nitro. We were in a senior staff meeting in April when WHAMMO, I see this thing for the first time (not much earlier than the world at large found out!) – now THAT’S a pleasant surprise!
First – understand the use case… There are several extreme-performance NAS markets – Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is one, media/CGI is another, HPC is another, and some analytics use cases is another.
When I say “extreme” performance – it’s a case of “as much as possible please”.
Project Nitro aims to tackle that – and we think it will smoke anything on the market (including emerging players efforts that are still NOT on the market).
This is really, really facemelting.
Project Nitro is several things coming together:
- A new bladed architecture for Isilon (you won’t see it without the faceplates or turned around). This designed for extreme flash density. How much? Think 200TB with the 3.2TB SSDs and 900TB with the 15TB SSDs… in 4U nodes. Like everything else EMC does – we are pushing ourselves to be right on the edge of NAND/SSD/NVMe (and NGNVM of several forms) – and Nitro is planning to be right on the edge. TONS of flash. And.. TONS of bandwidth - each node would have 8 x 40GbE interfaces front-end, and 8 x 40GbE back-end interfaces. UPDATE: many people have scratched their heads at this – note that no where have I explicitly stated the relationships between blades and nodes (how many blades/node). That’s intentional. Lots of time before GA, and through that time, more will become evident. It’s not uncommon for some details to be left blank (sometimes to keep cards close to one’s chest, sometimes because there’s still variations likely in the plan). With Project Nitro we’re keeping some blade details back. In similar pre-GA statements from EMC and from almost everyone, there are some details kept back.
- Re-architected OneFS stack focused on all-flash use cases. How fast? Think 15GBps per node, 250,000 IOps per node. Much lower latency than what people expect from OneFS. What are we talking about latency wise? Think about a 10x improvement relative to OneFS today (which is usually in the 5-10ms band).
Of course, if you compare the density and performance stats to something insane like DSSD, they seem a little pedestrian. Of course – that’s missing one important point. Nitro will have all of the Scale-Out NAS awesomeness that is in Isilon. So… If you have 400 of these bad boys, you get something like this…
We’ve been engaging with customers in those vertical markets – and they are STOKED.
What’s particularly important is that many of them use Isilon today, and love it… but would really love an “extreme performance pool” they could snap in – while still enjoying all the things they love about Isilon.
Let me repeat that:
- Mature scale-out NAS stack (takes YEARS to make scale-out NAS stacks solid) – and not scaling out to 10’s of nodes – but scaling out to hundreds of nodes.
- All the features like rich snapshots, SyncIQ, Cloud Pools, and more…
- Multi-protocol (SMB 3.x, NFS v3/v4, HDFS, Object interfaces) transparently – not just NFS.
…. All things they LOVE, now with facemelting, record setting performance for these use cases.
For fun, we looked at the stats relative to what’s likely going to be positioned as Nitro’s primary competition (not too many flash-optimized, bladed NAS offers targeted at EDA, Media, HPC :-)
Now – neither of these two are generally available yet – so time will tell. We’re aiming for Nitro to be generally and broadly available in 2017. If you want more detail sooner – reach out to your EMC Isilon Specialist!