Comparing Network Attached Storage (NAS) Solutions: Isilon vs. Flashblade vs. Weka
Lynn Orlando. May 17, 2020
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.
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Comparing Isilon vs. Flashblade vs. Weka
|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|
|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)|
|Data Encryption||At-Rest||At-Rest||At-Rest and In-Flight|
|Write Throughput||No Data from Vendor||No Data from Vendor||20GB/s|
|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
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