Isilon Claims Storage Scalability Breakthrough

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Runing each storage tier as a single multi-petabyte file volume could halve TCO and double your storage utilisation, says clustered NAS specialist.

Storage clustering specialist Isilon claimed it can now improve storage utilisation and management across the board, as it introduced scalable NAS nodes aimed at both transactional applications and nearline storage.

Like the company’s existing clustered NAS systems, the new devices can be brought together to operate as a single unit. Isilon senior product manager Gautam Mehandru said volumes as large as 3.45 petabytes can be created, and can each be managed as a single giant file system.

He claimed that the ability to run an entire tier of storage as a single volume means storage utilisation can be as high as 80 percent, while storage management costs can be cut by as much as 85 percent. It allows organisations to buy, power and manage fewer disk drives, he added.

Isilon’s InifiniBand-based clustering scheme also aggregates the NAS nodes’ I/O capabilities, allowing them to outperform stand-alone NAS by up to 60 times, Mehandru said.

The technology aims to meet the growing demand for storing unstructured file-based data, rather than block-based application data. Isilon said that current uses include storing genome maps, geophysical data, photos and videos, and email.

The new storage devices, which all run the same Isilon OneFS operating software, are the IQ 5400S, the IQ 36NL and the IQ 36000. The latter is an addition to Isilon’s older NAS family – each node houses 36 1TB hard disks, and up to 96 nodes can be clustered together.

Mehandru said that where Isilon’s existing NAS systems – now relabelled as its X-Series – are built around SATA hard disks, the S-Series IQ 5400 uses faster SAS hard drives to meet the high-performance, low-latency and random I/O demands of transactional applications.

He added that, conversely, where the X-Series is optimised for SATA performance, the NL-Series also uses SATA drives but is optimised for price and capacity.

The NL-Series will cost around $2 per GB before discounts, he said, while the X-Series will cost twice that but offer four times the performance.

“With the NL we are trying to redefine near-line storage economies – it trades performance for price, with less CPU and memory and fewer front-end interfaces, but still with massive scalability and the same proposition of one file volume,” he said.

He acknowledged however that the NL-Series does not yet offer any power-saving technology to spin-down disks when they are not being accessed, as MAID does for example.

“We have chosen lower-power components but that’s as far as we’ve gone,” he said. “It is near-line rather than archiving, the border is blurred though.”