Report: Apple Buys 12 Petabytes Of EMC Isilon Storage For iTunes on Wednesday reported the deal, which it said was based on information from a source inside EMC.

Apple could use such a large amount of storage for streaming video, audio, or images, and possibly as part of the Apple Smart TV high-definition TV service reportedly being planned.

The Web site also said that EMC is planning to release a new version of Isilon's OneFS file system on April 11. That news has been embargoed, but mention of OneFS 6.5 was made on the IBM Web site, said.

EMC could not be reached early Wednesday evening for comment on the Apple deal.

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Isilon was a developer of scale-out NAS technology. Its OneFS operating system allows customers to add storage nodes without disrupting storage operations up to a maximum of 10.4 petabytes in a single file system. Performance of the company's storage architecture also scales with the addition of storage nodes to up to 45 GBs per second.

EMC in November acquired Isilon in a $2.25 billion deal.

Before it was acquired, Isilon sold its scale-out NAS technology via both direct and indirect sales channels.

Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Isilon partner, said that such a deal would most likely have been handled directly between Isilon and Apple.

"Amazon, Apple, and big companies like those buying a lot of storage, those are pretty high-up relationships," Kadlec said. "But 12 petabytes? That's a huge amount of storage. It would really validate Isilon's storage technology."

John Murphy, executive vice president of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and Isilon partner, called such a deal huge.

"It would be a real coup for somebody," Murphy said.

Murphy said the deal could have gone through a channel partner. "Apple does use systems integrators," he said. "It doesn't do everything direct. It might have purchased the storage from a reseller."

Murphy said that a deal of that size would have been in the proof-of-concept stage for a long time, probably starting before EMC acquired Isilon. "There's a 'bet-your-business' kind of reliability needed," he said. "They were probably in testing for a long time."

Isilon did a lot of business through the channel before it was acquired, and EMC has so far respected Isilon's channel partners, Murphy said. "The accounts we were working on with Isilon before (the acquisition), we still handle," he said. "It's not a case where EMC came in and said, 'we're the new sheriff in town,'" he said.

Actually, if Isilon did do such a deal through a channel partner, it will probably get around to bragging about it some day, Murphy said. "Isilon would probably like to say, 'Here's a deal we did through the channel. Here's how we supported our partner,'" he said.