Best of TechEd Finalist: EMC Isilon Provides Simplified Scale-Out NAS

002-2_thumbEMC Isilon is tackling Big Data in an innovative way. Data is growing at an alarming rate, and the challenge is to find a way to easily and intelligently control and analyze that data. Enterprises need an easy-to-use, easy-to-scale, highly flexible, and immensely powerful storage solution that can be managed quickly and non-disruptively. Isilon, EMC’s recent high-profile acquisition, more than fits the bill. But just to give you a sense of its basic capabilities, Isilon can scale capacity from 6TB to 15PB in a single file system and single volume, and can deliver 85GBps of throughput and 1.2 million NFS IOPS. And by offering up to quadruple failure protection, Isilon ensures that even if as many as four nodes or drives fail at the same time, 100 percent of your data remains available.

Many solutions tackle the traditional challenges of the data center—delivering centralized enterprise administration features, reliable performance, and ever-increasing capacity—but Isilon’s differentiator is that it does so while giving you a customized, flexible architecture that’s perfect for you. Isilon is endlessly scalable, letting you start small and scale out over time almost effortlessly, and the platform will remain in step with your most complex enterprise applications. And you don’t need to add storage administrators as you grow. One person can manage petabytes of data, minimizing operating expenses and keeping the staff focused on managing data—not storage.

Key to Isolon’s success are two “smart” features. The SmartPools technology lets multiple tiers of Isilon nodes (S-Series, X-Series, NL-Series) exist within a single file system, with a single point of management, so that you can manipulate working sets and move inactive data to more cost-effective storage. Isilon supports a mixture of traditional hard disks and SSDs. There’s also SmartQuotas, which let you control and limit storage usage and easily provision a single pool of Isilon scale-out storage. You can assign quotas that partition storage into easily managed segments for quotas at the cluster, directory, sub-directory, user, and group levels.

Another cool feature is SnapShotIQ, which claims to evolve the notion of snapshot technology, supporting an unlimited number of snapshots within a single pool of Isilon storage and as many as 1,024 snapshots within any single directory. These scalable snapshots typically take less than a second to create, incurring little to no performance overhead. Only changes to blocks that make up a file are reflected in updates to the current version of snapshots, resulting in highly-efficient snapshot storage utilization.

I was impressed with Isilon’s unique “pay-as-you-grow” model, which lets you reduce operational costs by matching the timing of capital expenditures directly with the growth of your data. As you fill up, you simply buy what you need, when you need it. Check out Isilon at the company website.


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