10 Dell EMC Isilon Maintenance “Musts”

Park Place Hardware Maintenance

Parker March 21, 2016

Good EMC Isilon maintenance is a must if you don’t want your NAS cluster(s) to go down due to an unavoidable issue. But routine service and support is about more than keeping these systems online, there are possible performance gains in the offing as well.

How to Maintain your Dell EMC Isilon NAS

We’re giving you some simple steps to help maintain the integrity of your EMC Isilon installations:

  1. Subscribe to Isilon EOSL dates. Keep an eye on Isilon end of life. For example, most of the Isilon IQ series will lose EMC support by 2017. At that point, little if any information will be available from EMC, so other resources will be required.
  2. Check the physical environment. Yes, the IT world is all about clouds and data lakes and virtual reality—but physics still matters to your NAS cluster’s health. Monitor temperature, humidity, and power distribution unit (PDU) statistics in the data center and ensure they match the equipment’s environmental thresholds. And do what many IT shops fail to do: have a firm plan in place for dealing with variances and alarms.
  3. Check cluster capacity. Most systems admins and storage experts realize that capacity is a hard ceiling that’s important to monitor daily. There’s some great advice on network capacity management and planning in our blog post. The bottom line: either check the dashboard in the OneFS web administration interface or run performance reports using a third party management tool. Don’t skip it!
  4. Get up to date. Check for the latest clustering software and hardware firmware. You’ll always want to be aware of what maintenance releases (MRs) and firmware updates are available. You can also check the Current Isilon Software Releases document for a list of recommended updates.
  5. Review the status of data protection jobs. Whether you’re using Isilon SnapshotIQ or NDMP for data replication or backups, it’s important to check the reports in the OneFS web administration interface or the log files of these tools to verify that your data is protected. Discovering failed jobs in real time empowers you to address the root causes before you actually need to recover data.

If all of this sounds like a hassle, honestly, it can be. And we’ve got five more “must do” tasks coming up next. But there is an alternative to self-service—outsourcing your EMC Isilon maintenance to a qualified third party maintenance provider.

Yep, third party maintenance. It’s not just for EOSL (end of service life) equipment anymore! It’s also an option for current, EMC-supported gear for clients who prefer full service and support at a lower cost. With Park Place Technologies Dell EMC maintenance contracts, clients can expect to save 40% to 70% off EMC’s prices plus gain escalation process-free access to Level 3 support, a highly experienced account engineer, and a range of other benefits that come with our standard contract.

5 Dell EMC Isilon Maintenance Best Practices

We raised five best practices that can help prevent downtime and often improve performance along the way. Unfortunately, a storage admin’s day is never done, and we’ve got five more “must do’s” that can make the difference between EMC Isilon success and abject (and always untimely!) failure.

  1. Manage your data. Maybe it should go without saying, but it’s imperative to delete unnecessary data to free up valuable space. Often overlooked—this includes legacy Snapshots. These are used for data protection in OneFS, but they can take up a lot of space.
  2. Mix and match the right way. With EMC Isilon, it’s permissible to have node or disk pools containing a mix of different node capacities, but you must verify compatibility. If the NAS is improperly configured, you can receive “cluster full” errors even if only the smallest node in your node pool has reached maximum capacity—so check node compatibility within node and disk pools regularly.
  3. Go in HOT! Enable Virtual Hot Spare. This technology—with the unfortunate acronym VHS (better the Betamax?)—keeps disk space in reserve in case you need to move data off of a failing drive. VHS is enabled by default, but verifying its presence on each cluster will ensure all remain safe in the event of a disk failure.
  4. Spill—purposefully. Spillover allows data that is being sent to a full pool to be diverted to an alternate location. If you have licensed Smartpool software, you can designate a spillover location for real-time management of a full disk to prevent data loss.
  5. Add nodes. Keep a close eye on current data usage and forecast likely increases. A proactive plan for node additions will minimize downtime due to overages in disk utilization.

Of course, as we mentioned last time, you don’t have to do it all yourself. And often it’s best not to. In a busy data center or other stressful IT environment with multiple, competing priorities, internal staff can fall behind on routine maintenance, despite their best intentions. Working with a dedicated EMC Isilon maintenance partner, on the other hand, ensures that all tasks are completed in a timely manner and your data is fully protected.

Plus with Park Place, there’s added security of:

  • 100% coverage, so no component failure costs you extra;
  • Complete hardware, software, and firmware support without fussy exclusions;
  • Level 3 engineering support—and never anything less (no help desk!);
  • A highly trained, local account engineer who answers every on-site call;
  • Extra engineering time for all those “other things” that don’t qualify as break/fix.

The full-service solution offered by Park Place doesn’t cost a lot, but it delivers a lot.

About the Author

Parker, Park Place Assistant