A New Category of Storage Reaches Europe

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It is not everyday that a vendor comes to Europe with the message that they offer a totally new concept in storage. Such an event occurred last week when Isilon announced that it would be offering its clustered storage solutions to the European market in partnership with Zycko.

Isilon is not a name that is well known outside of the US where the company has been gaining recognition and customers over the last twenty-four months. Isilon was founded in 2001 with the explicit aim to help solve many of the problems associated with large-scale storage systems, especially in matters of scalability and the simplicity of installation and administration. In essence, the Isilon IQ Clustered Storage System provides storage for unstructured data in a single, highly scalable storage pool.

Starting from basic principles, Isilon designed its clustered storage architecture to be easy to run and very cost effective to own. The essence of its clustered architecture endows the solution with the ability to scale in an almost linear fashion as new nodes are added to the platform and to offer very high availability. This scalability allows the solution to avoid many of the performance bottlenecks common to other storage solutions as they scale.

The storage is formed from clusters of nodes, each of which contains 12 disks. The minimum cluster comprises three nodes. At the heart of the solution lies OneFS, the software that combines much of the functionality associated with the three traditional storage layers of Raid, File System and Volume Manager. OneFS creates a single distributed file system whereby files are striped across all nodes. This delivers a high performance, fully symmetric storage pool complete with automated software to replace many manual tasks.

The platforms in the current range include Isilon IQ 1920i, IQ 3000i, IQ 4800i and IQ 6000i. These offer maximum cluster sizes for single storage pools ranging from 80 Tb to 250 Tb. Each cluster may make use of either GigE or InfiniBand for the cluster interconnect; currently around 90 percent of solutions sold have taken the InfiniBand interconnect.

OneFS provides functionality to replace many of the laborious tasks associated with storage management and even provides a sophisticated level of rapid self-healing. Capabilities provided include AutoBalance to automate Content Balancing, SmartConnect for client load balancing, SmartRead and a simple to use Web administration tool. OneFS provides N+1 protection and the solution offers one of the fastest drive rebuild times whereby a 250 GB disk can be rebuilt in as little as an hour.

Another feature, FlexProtect-AP, allows protection changes to be made in real time so that data can be protected based on organizational needs that may vary over time. The software also ensures data availability in the event of disk or node failure. Further, Isilon IQ platforms come with SyncIQ Replication Software that delivers policy based asynchronous file replication.

Isilon is faced with a considerable challenge to bring this new storage architecture to the mass market. However, it is very simple to deploy and use which, coupled with its excellent scalability and performance, will certainly attract the attention of organizations faced with the need to store large volumes of unstructured data. Indeed, its ease of use alone and transparency to users and applications should guarantee it an audience.

The partnership with Zycko shows a shrewd selection amongst the potential channel partners capable of selling such a radically different yet simple platform. Zycko is rapidly growing throughout much of Europe and is making significant inroads as a supplier of storage, networking and communications solutions that understands customer issues and delivers the right answers. Zycko and Isilon are well placed to shake up large sections of the European storage market.