Behind the scenes: Making the Access Zones technical demo video

Amol Choukekar
Amol Choukekar

The Offer & Enablement (O&E) team within the EMC® Isilon® Professional Services department is a well-oiled machine when it comes to making videos. In the past year, they’ve played a key role in conceptualizing and collaborating to develop almost a third of the videos published to the Isilon Support YouTube playlist—from whiteboard videos to technical demos—that demonstrate how features of the OneFS® operating system work.

Principal Solutions Architect Amol Choukekar describes the story behind the origin and production of their latest video, Technical Demo: Access Zones in OneFS 7.1.1. In this interview, you’ll learn how frequently asked questions from customers about Access Zone configuration and directory layouts inspired the O&E team to create this video.

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Q: Tell us about your team and why you produce these videos?

A: Our team is comprised of solutions architects and technical program managers who all contribute to making these videos. There is a lot of effort that goes into these projects. Specifically, creating and revising the script and setting up the demo environments that we use to create these videos.

Our main objective in producing these videos is to demonstrate OneFS features in a simple-to-follow format. The value for our customers and partners is to use the knowledge gained in the video and then apply that to their EMC Isilon solution.

Q: Why was Access Zones selected as a topic for a technical demo?

A: Access Zones was initially introduced in the OneFS 7.0 release. The OneFS 7.1.1 release includes interesting changes to the Access Zones feature, such as the concept of a zone-base directory. Other feature changes include zone-specific SMB shares, which eliminate the duplicate share name issue that existed in previous versions of OneFS (login is required to view Isilon OneFS 7.1.1 Release Notes). Also, our HDFS support is now zone-aware, which is becoming very popular. These changes represent another step in the evolution of our scale out multi-tenancy story in OneFS. The purpose of the video is to make our customers aware of these important changes.

Q: What were some frequently asked questions about Access Zones that helped you develop the script?

A: One of the criteria in configuring Access Zones is the zone-base directory, because a main criteria in configuring a OneFS cluster is to correctly lay out the directory structure. Our field teams were frequently asked questions about directory layout. For example, when we configure Access Zones or our cluster, where should we base our zone directory considering the various workflows and data segregation needs? This is an important design decision when deploying a scale-out network attached storage (NAS) solution such as EMC Isilon.

One of the objectives of the video was to demonstrate the proper use of the OneFS directory path convention. For example, with /ifs as the cluster root path, the best practices we’ve seen in the field for creating the directory layout is to use a /ifs/clustername/zonename/ structure. That can become your Access Zone rule, and then you can create SMB shares under that directory.

Zone-based directories in OneFS 7.1.1
Zone-base directories in OneFS 7.1.1

Q: What were some of the other goals when making this video?

A: The other goals for the video were to demonstrate the new Access Zone feature in a simplistic way without using any technical jargon. We really wanted the audience to easily grasp the concepts because these are the building blocks for the OneFS solution.And we wanted to demonstrate the feature in a workflow format to help the viewer understand the concepts related to Access Zones.

Q: What were some of the challenges when making this video?

A: While the content of the video is introductory, there was a lot of effort put in by our technical program managers to create the environment and make sure that the technical steps were complete and easily reproducible. Although it was a bit time consuming, it was not difficult at all because OneFS is one of the easiest NAS operating systems that I have ever worked with.

Q: What else would you like to add?

A: We hope all of our viewers find this useful. If you do find it useful, we highly encourage you to share it with your peers, customers, or anybody that uses OneFS and needs to configure Access Zones. And provide us with feedback on this video or existing videos, or suggestions for new topics.

[Editor’s note: please provide your feedback and suggestions by sending an email to]

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About the Author: Kirsten Gantenbein