Tom Trainer wrote what was supposed to be a thoughtful examination of what “cloud storage” should mean, but it came across as a rather nasty anti-Isilon hit piece. I tried to reply there, but apparently my comment won’t go through until I register with “UBM TechWeb” so they can sell me some crap, so I’m posting my response here. Besides being a defense of an unfairly maligned competitor – mine as well as Tom’s unnamed employer’s – it might help clarify some of the issues around what is or is not “real” cloud storage.

As the project lead for CloudFS, which addresses exactly the kinds of multi-tenancy and encryption you mention, I agree with many of your main points about what features are necessary for cloud storage. Where I disagree is with your (mis)characterization of Isilon to make those points.

* First, their architecture is far from monolithic. Yes, OneFS is proprietary, but that’s a *completely* different thing.

* Second, scaling to 144 servers is actually pretty good. When you look closely at what many vendors/projects claim, you find out that they’re actually talking about clients . . . and any idiot can put together thousands of clients. Conflating node counts with server counts was a dishonest trick when I caught iBrix doing it years ago, and it’s a dishonest trick now. Even the gigantic “Spider” system at ORNL only has 192 servers, and damn few installations need even half of that. It’s probably a support limit rather than an architectural limit. No storage vendor supports configurations bigger than they’ve tested, and testing even 144 servers can get pretty expensive – at least if you do it right. I’m pretty sure that Isilon would raise that limit if somebody asked them for a bigger system and let them use that configuration for testing.

Third, Isilon does have a “global” namespace as that term is usually used – i.e. at a logical level, to mean that the same name means the same thing across multiple servers, just like a “global variable” represents the same thing across multiple modules or processes. Do you expect global variables to be global in a physical sense too? In common usage, people use terms like “WAN” or “multi-DC” or “geo” to mean distribution across physical locations, and critiquing a vendor for common usage of a term makes your article seem like even more of a paid-for attack piece.

Disclaimer: I briefly evaluated and helped deploy some Isilon gear at my last job (SiCortex). I respect the product and I like the people, but I have no other association with either.