Isilon upgrades clustered storage

By Kevin Komiega

—Isilon Systems recently released the IQ 12000 and EX 12000 products, a family of nodes which, when combined, create a clustered storage configuration that can scale to more than 1.6PB of capacity in a single file system and single volume.

The IQ 12000 platform node and EX 12000 extension node run Isilon's OneFS operating system software in combination with 12 Hitachi 1TB SATA disk drives to provide 12TB of capacity per 2U node—a 25% increase in capacity per rack unit over previous versions. Customers can use the 12000 series to build a 250TB storage cluster in a single data-center rack.

The difference between the IQ and EX nodes is performance. The chassis are the same, but an EX 12000 is disk-only and lacks the performance characteristics of the IQ 12000. The 12000 provides linear scaling of both capacity and performance with the addition of each modular node. The EX 12000, when paired with the IQ 12000, provides scaling of capacity independent of performance, creating a high-density configuration for storing and accessing archives of unstructured data and digital content.

"Adding another node means you're adding capacity as well as performance via more memory, networking, and processing power," says Jay Wampold, Isilon's senior director of marketing and communications. "But just adding an EX node allows you to scale capacity independently."

EX 12000 nodes connect to IQ 12000 devices on a 1:1 basis via a SAS interconnect, essentially creating a 24TB storage node designed to support nearline storage applications.

"Blade infrastructures and high-performance architectures are being deployed in the data center and there are massive fabric upgrades underway that are leaving storage as the bottleneck. Clustered storage removes that bottleneck and can feed high-performance applications at the rates that they require," says Wampold.

However, taking advantage of high-capacity drive technology can be something of a double-edged sword. The knock on 1TB disk drives is the time it takes to rebuild a drive after a failure. Wampold says the trick is to keep rebuild times to less than three hours. "With traditional NAS architectures—that is, a filer with disks behind it—rebuild times with 1TB drives are enormous and can take 24 hours or longer," he says. "We can rebuild a 1TB drive in 60 to 90 minutes because we can bring all of our compute resources to bear when rebuilding a drive."

Isilon's OneFS platform and integrated FlexProtect-AP data-protection software provide N+4 data protection, meaning the cluster can withstand up to four simultaneous failures without losing access to data.

Wampold says the 12000 series is priced at an overall cost of less than $2,000 per managed terabyte. List pricing for the IQ 12000 is $49,250 per node, while the EX 12000 is priced from $29,250 per node.

This article was originally published on November 28, 2007