Clustered storage: Isilon targets SMBs

Posted on January 24, 2007

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By Ann Silverthorn

—Isilon is trying to make clustered storage more affordable for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the introduction of the IQ 200. The new model is priced at just under $40,000 and includes Isilon's OneFS 4.5 operating system software.

Citing Enterprise Strategy Group figures, Isilon reports that in 2006, 58% of all new data was unstructured data, and that data is growing at a rate of 92% per year.

"Unstructured files require sustained throughput rather than IOPS [I/Os per second], which traditional systems were designed for," claims Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing and business development at Isilon. "The IQ 200 has Intel Xeon processors and 4.5GB of memory [for high performance]."

Goodwin says that with more disks to store large amounts of data, the probability of having multiple hardware failures increases. "Clustered storage protects against the simultaneous failure of three or four disks, without data loss. This goes beyond RAID 6 in traditional systems," says Goodwin.

Each IQ 200 provides 2TB of capacity in a 1U form factor. Users can start out with three or more nodes, and as they reach 90% capacity utilization they can purchase more nodes—up to 24 nodes in a single cluster, scaling from 6TB to 48TB. Unlike Isilon's other IQ models, which have InfiniBand connections on the back-end, the IQ 200 uses Gigabit Ethernet to connect to existing data-center hardware and between nodes.

"Additional nodes automatically join the others in 60 seconds and the system rebalances all of the data across the nodes," says Goodwin. "By striping data across the nodes, we create a symmetric clustered-storage system with linear scalability in performance and capacity, which is different from traditional NAS or SAN storage systems."

IQ 200 users also have the choice of three optional software products that run on the OneFS operating system—SnapShotIQ, SmartConnect, and SyncIQ.

SnapShotIQ creates an unlimited number of point-in-time snapshots of the file system. The snapshots can be taken on directories, sub-directories, or sets of files, without requiring snapshots of entire volumes.

SmartConnect creates load-balancing policies related to CPU utilization or throughput, and also provides fail-over. The software can create zones in the cluster, allowing different quality-of-service levels for users.

SyncIQ replicates data to any other IQ system over an IP network (LAN or WAN). Replication can be one-to-one or one-to-many.

SnapShotIQ is priced at $1,450 per node, while SmartConnect and SyncIQ are each priced at $2,950 per node.

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