Removing the last 3 nodes of a node type from an Isilon cluster


In any Isilon cluster there is a requirement to have a minimum of 3 nodes for each type of node that is within the cluster. This rule begs the question of how to remove the last 3 nodes of a node type from a cluster.

What are my options for evacuating the data on the 3 nodes that will be removed from the cluster?

  1. SmartPools – A file pool policy can be created to move all data to the other nodes in the cluster. Simply create a new file pool policy that moves everything under /ifs to the tier/pool that will remain in the cluster.

Note: If all of your pools are in a single tier you will need to remove one of the pools from the tier before you can create the SmartPool file policy. Pools can safely be removed from a tier at any time.

  1. SmartFail – This method will not work. The first node you SmartFail will start to evacuate it’s data to the other 2 nodes remaining in the cluster that are the same type. Eventually those 2 nodes will fill up and the SmartFail job will hang.

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Add an Isilon Node to a Cluster


Typically adding a node to an existing Isilon cluster is very simple. However, if you are impatient like I am then you might want to know exactly what’s going on at every step of the process. The process frequently takes 30+ minutes and therefore after about 20 minutes of waiting you may be wondering if the something is wrong.

Phase 1 – Tell the node to join the cluster

  • Turn on the new node and attached the Infinband cables to the existing Infiniband switch
    • The power button is in the rear of the NL nodes
  • After about 5 minutes the node will come up and the front panel will automatically ask you to join the existing cluster
  • Simply click the middle button on the display to begin the process

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Reformat an Isilon Node



In some situations it may be necessary to reformat an Isilon node. One common example is if the Isilon node will be moved to a different Isilon cluster. The steps below document the proper process to reformat an Isilon node.


  • Physically disconnect all Infiniband cables from the node that will be reformatted
  • Open a serial connection to the node that will be reformatted
    • Baud Rate: 115200
    • Data Bits: 8
    • Stop Bits: 1
    • Parity: None
    • Flow control: Xon/Xoff

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Upgrade Drive Firmware on an Isilon Cluster


Occasionally EMC will release new firmware packages for various drives used in Isilon nodes. The process documented here can be used to upgrade the firmware on the drives prior to OneFS version 7.1. The firmware upgrade process prior to OneFS version 7.1 uses the Isilon Drive firmware package.


  • Login to
    • PowerLink account required
  • Search for Isilon Drive Firmware Package
  • Download the latest package (1.9 as of 02/2015)
    • Review the release notes of this package
  • Copy this package onto the Isilon cluster
  • Determine how the firmware upgrade will be applied
    • Serial – This is the recommended method. This requires physical access to each node in the Isilon cluster
    • SSH – This allows the firmware upgrade to performed remotely. Unfortunately in some situations the firmware upgrade process can fail after SSH has been stopped on the node. In those situations the node will remain offline until a reboot is performed via a serial connection. Therefore SSH is not the recommended method.
      • If using SSH then the Infiniband IP address must be used as opposed to the 1Gbe or 10Gbe interface. The Infinband IP(s) for each node can be obtained via the Web GUI by simply clicking on the node number and looking for the IP next to int-a or int-b.



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