Isilon expands clustered storage

By Ann Silverthorn

—Isilon this week released a clustered storage platform a third larger than its previous platform, as well as new software to manage it. The IQ 9000 and EX 9000 are high-density 2U nodes that use 12 750GB SATA-II drives from Seagate. The new software is called SmartQuotas and offers quota management and thin provisioning.

The difference in the IQ and EX versions has to do with whether a user requires more performance or more capacity. The IQ nodes have disks, an Intel Xeon CPU, 4GB of memory, and network connectivity (two front-end Gigabit Ethernet ports and two back-end InfiniBand ports). The EX products are expansion nodes that only contain physical storage.

Each 9000 platform provides 9TB of capacity. The IQ 9000, leveraging Isilon's OneFS operating system software, provides linear scaling of both capacity and performance with the addition of each 2U node. The EX 9000, when paired with the IQ 9000, provides scaling of capacity independent of performance. The new configurations provide a 50% increase in storage density, with lower power and cooling usage per terabyte.

The other key highlights of Isilon's announcement this week were 96-node clusters.

Pairing a 96-node IQ 9000 with a 96-node EX 9000 provides 1.6PB in a single cluster and single file system. That compares to about 16TB per file system or volume for some of the company's NAS competitors, according to Brett Goodwin, Isilon's vice president of marketing and business development.

Isilon's clustered storage is designed to address the explosion of digital content and unstructured data, providing enterprises with the ability to scale resources as they take on the additional Web 2.0 data loads, without diminishing the performance required by near-instant collaboration and communication services.

Isilon's SmartQuotas software provides quota management and thin provisioning for clustered storage. All of the company's software products leverage its clustered architecture and OneFS operating system software.

"SmartQuotas allows you to take a large, single pool of storage, say a 100TB cluster, and allocate it among different user groups, such as marketing, engineering, finance, the executive team, and customer service," says Goodwin. "The software allows you to allocate 30TB to each of those five groups. Each only sees 30TB, rather than the 100TB of storage."

Goodwin says that, although there's only 100TB of capacity, the software can over-allocate the cluster to 150TB of logical capacity. For each of the five groups there's a hard stop at 30TB. But as the cluster gets 90% full, administrators receive an alert. They can then add another node to the cluster. The new node auto-joins the cluster in 60 seconds, expanding the physical size of the cluster with no interruption to data access.

SmartQuotas is priced at $1,950 per node. The IQ 9000 and EX 9000 systems are priced per node on a "pay-as-you-grow" basis, with prices ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 per terabyte.

This article was originally published on July 24, 2007