Isilon adds software for clustered storage

Posted on October 09, 2006

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By Ann Silverthorn

—Isilon introduced a new version of its OneFS operating system today in addition to two data-protection and data-management applications that run on top of the OneFS platform. SnapshotIQ performs point-in-time copies of a file system, and SmartConnect 2.0 adds seamless NFS failover in addition to policies that balance clients. A basic version of SmartConnect has been available at no cost for two years. All of Isilon's products, including clustered storage hardware and accelerators, are available with InfiniBand connections.

The 4.5 version of OneFS has three key improvements. Isilon increased the maximum file system from 250TB to one petabyte—a 4X improvement. The maximum number of nodes has also increased from 35 to 96. OneFS 4.5 also adds N+3 and N+4 data protection to its existing N+1 and N+2 data-protection schemes.

According to Sujal Patel, Isilon's founder and CTO, "N+1 is analogous to RAID 5, except that it's capable of withstanding a full-node failure. N+2 can handle two full-node failures simultaneously. But as cluster sizes increase, users need to not only protect against failures and repair quickly, they need to prepare for more than two simultaneous failures. N+3 and N+4 allow the system to withstand three and four failures, which goes beyond RAID 6.

Patel explains that an Isilon system could have a thousand drives, 400GB of memory, 96 processors, and 200 power supplies, making multiple disk failures possible. Patel also says that Isilon's N+3 and N+4 data protection requires only 20% to 25% overhead—the same as N+2.

The new SnapshotIQ software allows an unlimited number of snapshots per cluster—up to 1,024 per directory. The schedule can be based on any arbitrary directory or sub-tree, unlike some systems that only do snapshots at the volume level. It also offers capacity-saving features.

"Unlike NetApp or EMC, we don't require a space reservation up front, which requires the user to reserve 30% of the system for snapshots," claims Patel. "Our snapshots are core to the file system itself, so we use whatever free space is available."

Patel adds that SnapshotIQ is integrated with Microsoft's Virtual Shadow Copy Service (VSS), so users that want to restore deleted files or directories can restore their own files without administrator intervention.

The second software product introduced today, SmartConnect 2.0, adds support for dynamic NFS failover and failback. The software allows administrators to create policies that balance connections to an Isilon cluster based on utilization in terms of CPUs or throughput. It creates the concept of zones in the system so that applications can be assigned to different segments of the cluster.

SnapshotIQ is licensed on a per-node basis, starting at $2,950. SmartConnect is priced at $4,950 per node.

For more news on Isilon:
Isilon boosts performance, capacity

Isilon accelerates clustered storage



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