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Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator overview and configuration

For those who are looking to test and learn more about Dell EMC Isilon OneFS solutions there is an excellent news. As of May 2017 the latest version of Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator is available for download and free of charge (for non-production use). Once we are ready and fully tested the “basic” functionalities it is also possible to either proceed with a trial of the “advanced” features or why not convert the software installation into a Production one by purchasing the necessary licenses for the features we want to cover. Dell EMC Isilon OneFS Simulator is offered as a software version to test the latest software release updates.

Dell EMC Isilon OneFS in essence what is it?

OneFS, short for One File System, is a new approach that combines in one “view” three areas that are typically prominent to Storage:

  • File System
  • Volume Manager
  • Data Protection

OneFS aims at managing all of these aspects with a single “entity or layer” that operates as a Distributed File System running on cluster nodes. This approach effectively aims at NAS scale-out scenarios where with the increasing demand for bigger and always available storage is not an option. On top Dell EMC Isilon OneFS is also embracing the commodity hardware approach making it easier for a distributed architecture. There are various hardware models covering different purposes for a wide range of scenarios. Extreme Performance, Performance, Hybrid and Archive. Of course they also ship with different type of drive combinations: all Flash, SAS, SSD and SATA.

OneFS is built on FreeBSD 10. And yes, in case you are asking this is the same OS that another Storage appliance is using: NAS4Free!

The Isilon nodes

Every Isilon OneFS installation comes with a cluster. Arguably a cluster is a group of nodes. Even if this cluster is consisting of a single node. Each single Isilon node includes CPU, Memory, Networking, Disk Controllers and Storage media. Therefore each node can be considered a self contained unit. Multiple nodes can participate to one cluster at a time.

The Network

Each Isilon cluster comes with 2 Networks: Internal and External one:

The internal one also known as the Back-End Network is the one the Isilon cluster will use for all internal communications within the nodes. Usually you can find 10 or 40Gb connections or even QDR Infiniband (IB). The back-end is configured with redundant switches for high availability. Each node is acting as a single contributor to the cluster and it’s also possible to isolate communication between different nodes. The back-end network uses the standard IP protocol for communications

The external one also known as the Front-End Network simply connects the clients with respective applications to the cluster by mean of 1Gb, 10Gb or even 40Gb Ethernet connections. Now each node comes with its own network ports so the more nodes participate to the cluster the higher scalability and capacity can be added. In terms of protocols the Isilon Cluster natively supports the standard ones including: NFS, SMB, HTTP, FTP, HDFS and OpenStack Swift.

Sounds really interesting right? So let’s take look on how to install the Dell Isilon OneFS simulator! This article will be organised as follows:

  • Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator overview and deployment
  • Dell EMC Isilon OneFS setup of the first node
  • How to add nodes to Dell EMC Isilon OneFS
Let’s deploy Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator

In terms of minimum specs in order to install the Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator they are not very demanding. Which makes testing and learning more about this product in our home lab even more! A glance at the main spec will look like:


  • Minimum of 2 GB RAM for a virtual node
  • 6 GB RAM recommended per virtual node Processor
  • VT-capable processor

Operating System

  • Microsoft Windows (recommended)
  • Ubuntu (Linux)
  • CentOS (Linux)

Hard Drive

  • 42 GB of disk space per virtual node for a fully populated virtual cluster

First thing would be to download the latest trial version from the Dell EMC website. At the time of writing this is version Isilon OneFS 8.1. The size is roughly 250 MB.

After obtaining the latest image from Dell EMC website all we have to do is to deploy the OVA file. Generally I would use the Web Client but since the latest updates on Google Chrome the Client Integration Plugin doesn’t seem to work. So this time let’s deploy the OVA through the good vSphere client. Steps to follow are very easy. From the File menu > Deploy OVF Template will bring the wizard as screenshots below. Let’s locate the OVA file and click on next:

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS

Let’s review the main details also to assess if we have enough space before hand to perform an installation using Thick disks for better performance

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS OVA

At this point we can choose where in the infrastructure we want to place the Isilon OneFS cluster. It might make sense to create a dedicated set of folders fit for the purpose

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS vCenter

From here we can decide the location where to deploy the OVA file based on available Datastores

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS Datastore

Thick Provisioning will guarantee best performances over time when compared to Thin.Again it really depends on hardware we have available in our home lab

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS OVA Disk

The OVA for Isilon OneFS comes with the option to configure 3 Networks. For a test and /or home lab scenario 2 networks are more than enough. They can be configured mapping at the internal and external networks. Should only one network be available we can still leverage the VLANs to further segment the network

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS OVA network

As soon as we hit on next the wizard is now ready to complete showing the main options. And will look something similar to this

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS OVA Summary

Before powering on the VM let’s take a look at the OVA deployment. In particular:

  • 2GB of RAM Memory
  • 2 vCPU
  • 8 Drives (1x Boot, 1x Journal, 6x Data)
  • 3 network cards

At the moment we can leave the default options as they are:

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS properties

In theory we are ready to power on the Isilon OneFS node as of yet. Let’s hold the horses! As mentioned at the beginning Isilon OneFS is always working with a cluster of nodes. Dell EMC Isilon OneFS simulator can include in fact up to 6 nodes! So why not adding extra nodes? Basically we have two options here:

  1. Repeat the same steps to deploy the OVA
  2. Clone the existing installation to a Template and deploy from that one instead

In this article I’m following option number 2. So from the VM menu Clone > Clone to Template…

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS template

Let’s locate where to save this template..

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS template folder

Next we can select from which vSphere Host will use CPU resources

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS template Host

At this point we can also select the virtual disk format (highly recommended to leave it as the source) and the actual Datastore where this will be stored

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS template storage

Finally a last screen in the wizard showing the source virtual machine name and actual template

Deploy EMC Isilon OneFS OVA Summary

Deploying other Dell EMC Isilon OneFS nodes using this template will work like a champ. Of course if changes are needed we can always alter the master copy by converting the Template back to VM, make the necessary changes and then re-saving this to Template once again.

We are now ready to setup the first Dell EMC Isilon OneFS node which will be covered in the next article. Hopefully this initial overview gives enough information to start and play with this simulator.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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