Isilon Scales NAS To Transaction Processing, Nearline Storage


Isilon this week unveiled a new family of high-performance NAS appliances aimed at such applications as online transaction processing, and another new family aimed at nearline storage.

Like the company's original X-Series of appliances, Isilon's new product families are aimed at storing unstructured file-based data, said Chris Blessington, director of marketing at Isilon.

File-based data is accumulating at a cumulative, projected annual growth rate of 79.3 percent from 2005 to 2011, compared to a 31 percent rate for block-based data, Blessington said, quoting IDC data. He said IDC also expects about 75 percent of all data to be file-based in 2011.

Isilon handles this data with hardware appliances running the company's OneFS file system that combines clustering with traditional RAID and volume management technology to treat all data up to 3.5 petabytes as a single volume, Blessington said.

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The end result is simplified management of scalable storage, he said. "Our largest customer is Kodak EasyShare," he said. "They started out with 200 Terabytes of storage. Now they have 15 Petabytes, all handled with the same number of management people."

Isilon this week added two new product lines to its storage family.

The company's new S-Series is focused on transactional and random access storage. The first product in the family, the IQ 5400 node, handles storage at a rate of 1 million I/Os per second in a single cluster. It scales to up to 518 TB of storage in a single file system using 15,000-rpm SAS hard drives, Blessington said.

Isilon's new NL-Series of nearline storage is aimed at the long-term archiving of files that do not require such fast access. The first product in the line, the IQ 36, scales from 252 TB to 3.45 PB in a single file system, but lacks some of the performance features of Isilon's existing X-Series of products in order to keep costs below $2 per GB, he said.

Isilon also updated its existing X-Series of products with the new IQ 36000, which features 30 GBps of throughput out of a single file system of up to 3.45 PB. Each node now supports up to 36 TB of data, three times the capacity of the previous models in the family.

Also new at Isilon is a new relationship with Ocarina Networks, a developer of content-aware data compression and deduplication software. Isilon will bundle the Ocarina software, Blessington said.

Isilon's strategy of expanding its product line to include high-performance and nearline storage is the right one, said Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and Isilon partner.

"It's a necessity for them to have as broad an appeal as they can," Strasheim said. "They're doing great in their niche. But they have to expand. It's like an actor that gets typecast into a single role."

Leonard Iventosch, vice president of global channels and OEM at Isilon, said his company has traditionally focused on verticals such as media, entertainment and Web 2.0, where high-performance, highly scalable file storage is a must.

However, Iventosch said, the new products will be of more interest to horizontal integrators and solution providers.

"In the past, we were more attractive to the guys in post-production studios, special effects, genome companies, and so on who like to scale out to 3.5 petabytes," he said. "But that didn't put us in the data center, because we were really a point solution. In the data center, customers need to back up and archive, but we didn't have a story there before now."

With the new offerings, Isilon can also take more horizontal integrators into existing customers that before could not use the company for backup and archive, Iventosch said. "We can help partners build professional services around the offerings," he said.