Is Clustered Storage right for you?

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Storage has been around for some time but it is certainly possible to argue that it has really only become highly visible in its own right over the course of the last few years. However, in this time storage management has managed to become not simply visible but the subject of rapid technological advance and an area of increasing investment for all consumers of IT services. This week Isilon Systems announced the release of the Isilon EX 6000, a high capacity clustered storage product. So what is clustered storage and is it something for you?

At the heart of the EX 6000 can be found Isilon OneFS 4.0, the latest release of the company’s distributed file system, coupled with one of the first commercial implementations of SAS—Serial Attached SCSI—for storage expansion. The net result is EX 6000, a storage platform designed to deliver low cost enterprise storage.

Isilon OneFS is a distributed file system that supplies the brains in the clustered storage solutions. In essence, OneFS merges the three core layers of traditional storage platforms, namely the file system, volume manager and RAID. Creating a single software layer OneFS provides a sophisticated file system spanning all nodes within a storage cluster. In this fashion OneFS delivers exceptional availability and reliability to provide a platform designed from the ground up with data protection very firmly in mind.

The EX 6000 delivers 6 Terabytes of SATA-II disk capacity in a 2-U form factor. Utilising OneFS 4.0, Isilon TrueScale and SAS the company creates a 60 Terabyte platform with the potential to scale to hundreds of Terabytes in a single cluster and single file system. The platform employs standard NAS file sharing protocols and Gigabit Ethernet.

It is expected that the relatively low cost and sophisticated storage management capabilities of the platform will appeal to organisations looking to implement large, cost-effective near-line archive and remote disaster recovery systems as well as large disk-to-disk backup and restore solutions. The entry price for complete EX 6000 solutions is given as $4,000 per Terabyte.

Clustered storage has not yet been the focus of much attention but the efforts of Isilon and PolyServe deserve to bring this storage architecture to a much a broader customer base. Simplicity and scalability in highly available, cost-effective performant storage platforms are qualities that appeal to markets as diverse as media, life sciences, large enterprise unstructured data, government and digital imaging to name but a few. It is my opinion that Clustered Storage is ready for take off. Is it right for you?