Musings on EMC World 2014

EMC World 2014 was an outstanding event.  I don’t say that because I am an employee; rather, because during my four days there, the reaction from customers, partners and everyone else – including the virtual attendees – was consistent and strong.  The event was well worth their time and effort.  Hats off to all who worked so hard to make this event world-class, the hundreds of people ‘behind the scenes’ that you never see, the unsung heroes.  Well done.

OK – now, let’s get into some technical topics.  During his keynote at the show, Isilon President Bill Richter touched on a topic in front of many a CIO today – that of moving both technology and organizations/people towards third-platform operation and behavior.  The EMC portfolio is entirely geared towards this transformation, not only in product but services, consulting, training, and many other aspects.  But what of Isilon – rightly known as the leader in scale-out NAS?  How does Isilon help move an organization into third-platform operation and behavior?

In my view, this is best answered in two parts.  First, the product itself – OneFS – has been orienting itself towards third-platform operation for more than two years now.  OneFS supports both HDFS natively and also RESTful access to the filesystem (and command space as well, for operations).  These two OneFS behaviors cannot be over-emphasized.  They represent a break from second-platform protocol stacks such as SMB and NFS.  Used in parallel, HDFS and REST form a ‘bridge’ (as Bill Richter put it) into third-platform applications and behaviors.

For example, I can store a file on OneFS using this very simple syntax (the example is from MacOS)

curl -k -u “peglarr:<redacted>” -X “PUT /namespace//ifs/foo” -H “x-isi-ifs-target-type:container” -H “x-isi-ifs-access-control:0755” https://$1:8080

This one line of curl, sending a PUT command, created a directory on OneFS called ‘foo’ in the directory /ifs with POSIX permissions of ‘rwx’ for myself and ‘rx’ for everyone else.

Then, I can store a file (foo.txt) with another simple line:

curl -k -u “peglarr:<redacted>” -X “PUT /namespace//ifs/foo/foo.txt” -H “x-isi-ifs-target-type:object” -T”foo.txt” https://$1:8080

That’s it.  Simple, straightforward, and I didn’t need a second-platform, client-server protocol session.  But if I need to use that file, foo.txt, in a second-platform application through SMB or NFS, it’s there in OneFS, in that directory, waiting for me to read it.

Better yet, I can read that file via HDFS, immediately (no copying needed) and use it as part of an analytic workflow.

The key here is the immediacy of data.  In third-platform, data not only has business value but time value as well.  If I am company X and can analyze the same data (say, today’s Twitter feed) faster than company Y, I gain competitive advantage.  Everyone knows about the time value of money; I believe in the time value of data.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading this.  It’s certainly not my first blog overall – but it is my first blog on the new site.  There will be many more over time.

Lastly, hats off to all the EMC Elect.  The peer-selected nature of this group distinguishes it from other recognition; I am honored to be a part of it, and thoroughly enjoyed my interactions at EMC World with many other Elect members.

Safe travels to all, and best wishes.  Have fun using third-platform tools and apps with Isilon.  Please let me know about your experiences with it – feel free to post blog comments, tweet me (@peglarr) or on other social media such as LinkedIn.

About the Author: Robert Peglar