Comparing Network Attached Storage (NAS) Solutions: Isilon vs. Flashblade vs. Weka

Lynn Orlando. May 17, 2020
Comparing Network Attached Storage (NAS) Solutions: Isilon vs. Flashblade vs. Weka

What is Network Attached Storage?

Network Attached Storage (NAS) are appliances that service files over the network infrastructure, as opposed to Storage Area Network (SAN) devices that serve block devices (LUNs) usually over a dedicated infrastructure (Such as Fibre channel). 

Modern day NAS appliances can contain all flash devices (All Flash Array), as well as have the ability to scale out, which allows them to have multiple HEAD nodes that can access and service the same data from other nodes, this allows the scale out AFA NAS arrays to provide the fastest most scalable NAS experience.

NAS and Scale out NAS appliances, whether they are Hard Disk Drives (HDD) or flash based, are exposing the files to the remote servers using NFS and/or SMB which limits the performance each server can get out of the array.

Another type of storage are parallel file systems which are installed over multiple servers and expose one or more filesystems usually using a proprietary client (which is not NFS or SMB). This allows for faster performance per server.

Usually NAS appliances would be used for easy to manage but not performant shared file environments which parallel file systems would be used for high performance high capacity but more complicated and harder to manage environments.

Modern parallel file systems, such as WekaFS, built for flash technology, allows the ease of management of a NAS appliance with faster than a traditional parallel file system performance.

Top Considerations while selecting your scale-out storage solution

Hardware – A modern day solution should be Software Defined as to allow for a wide range of hardware configurations and vendors, and therefore  prevent a vendor lock-in and benefit from new hardware technologies as they are released to the market.

Performance – The introduction of GPUs led to the emergence of data intensive modern applications, requiring high throughput and low latency along with high IOPS and metadata. 

Scale – Data is becoming the new source code, allowing modern applications to run and analyze bigger amounts of data has been shown to improve their accuracy. Therefore the scale-out solution should allow for PBs of capacity and Exabytes in the near future, in a cost effective way.

Cloud Native – With the growth of public clouds, any solution that allows for on premises as well as public cloud usability would allow customers maximum flexibility of choice. 

Security – If your company operates in a regulated environment and processes PII or HIPAA compliant information your storage would benefit from having inflight and at rest encryption. As well as allowing regulatory compliance analytical tools to scan the data and provide compliance proof in a predictable time frame.

Protocol support – Modern environments are utilizing multiple IOT devices to generate data that needs to be further analyzed, such as Sequencers, Camera, Radars, Lidars, Sensors and more. Storage solutions need to support multiple protocols for ingesting and accessing the data so that it can be pushed to the system with several protocols and analyzed over other protocols.


3 new rules for selecting scalable storage solutions.

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Comparing Isilon vs. Flashblade vs. Weka


Hardware Isilon FlashBlade WekaFS
Server Nodes per Chassis 4 in 4RU, Proprietary 15 in 4RU, Proprietary 1 in 1RU or 4 in 2RU, COTS
# of Server Nodes 4 to 252 7 to 75 8 to Thousands
Server Generation Intel Broadwell Intel Broadwell Intel Skylake/Cascade Lake
Memory per Node 256GB 128GB, 4 channels 192GB, 6 channels
SSD Interface SAS NVMe, Proprietary NVMe, COTS
Front-End Network Up to 40Gb Up to 40Gb Up to 200Gb
Network Switch Hardware Up to 40Gb Proprietary Core Switch, COTS
Protocol Support  
POSIX 100K No Yes
NFS 1M Yes Yes
SMB 4TB Yes, SMB 2.1 Yes, SMB 2/3
S3 66PB Yes Yes, via Gateway
Directories per Directory At-Rest No Data from Vendor 6.4T
Files per Directory   No Data from Vendor 6.4B
File Size 15GB/s No Data from Vendor 4PB
Filesystem Size 66PB 8PB (effective) 8EB (512PB on Flash)
Security 250K
Data Encryption At-Rest At-Rest At-Rest and In-Flight
Read Throughput 15GB/s 7GB/s 56GB/s
Write Throughput No Data from Vendor No Data from Vendor 20GB/s
Read IOPS 250K 1.5M 5.8M
Write IOPS No Data from Vendor No Data from Vendor 1.6M
Single Mount Point, Full Coherency 1.2GB/s No Data from Vendor 82GB/s
#1 on IO500 and SPEC No No Yes

1 At smallest configuration

Learn how Weka’s file system delivers the highest performance for the most data-intensive workloads.

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