Isilon boosts speed, capacity with new NAS boxes

Scale-out NAS vendor Isilon this week released three new products designed to improve performance for a variety of data-access needs, from high-performance, I/O-intensive applications to nearline archiving.

Isilon added the new IQ 36000X product to its X-series line, increasing highest capacity from 2.3PB to 3.45PB, and introduced two new storage lines -- the S-Series for transactional I/O and random access and the NL-Series for nearline storage. (Compare storage products)

Isilon says its architecture makes it easy for one storage administrator to manage large amounts of data by treating everything in a system as one volume. The goal is to "provide applications the ability to scale and grow without dealing with new complexity," says Ram Appalaraju, the vendor's vice president of marketing.

The first product in the new S-Series line, the IQ 5400S, offers up to half a petabyte of storage while delivering speeds of 1 million input/output operations per second in a cluster of up to 96 nodes.

The 5400S uses 15,000 RPM SAS drives, while the rest of Isilon's products rely on SATA. That includes the new IQ 36NL nearline storage product, which scales from 250TB to 3.45PB, the same maximum capacity as the X-Series line.

Isilon plans to add solid-state disks at some point, but not quite yet.

"Right now, we don't have any customers who are going to push us beyond what we do," says Isilon CEO and founder Sujal Patel. "From a price-performance standpoint, it doesn't make sense even if it's faster."

Isilon targets customers who need fast access to file-based data, including businesses in the oil and gas, life sciences, government, manufacturing, telco and financial services industries.

The analyst firm Gartner, in a report written two months before the latest product releases, said Isilon doesn't offer the fastest throughput in the industry but does provide excellent scalability and simplified deployment and management. "Isilon's scale-out NAS appliance leverages industry-standard hardware components (memory, CPU, motherboard and so forth) and serial advanced technology attachment [SATA] drives to drive down hardware costs while taking advantage of advancements in mainstream hardware," Gartner said.

Gartner says Isilon is the market leader for scale-out NAS, holding 58% of the US$200 million market with 11,000 cluster nodes sold to more than 850 customers by the end of Q3 2008. Isilon is the seventh leading vendor in the overall NAS market, holding 3.1% share. (Compare NAS products)

However, Gartner says Isilon has an unproven management team, and is facing increased competition from major vendors such as IBM, HP, Sun, and NetApp. EMC and Dell are also in the market through a partnership with scale-out NAS vendor Ibrix.

Listed prices for Isilon's new products are $49,999 per node for the Isilon IQ 5400S, $137,000 per node for the IQ 36000X, and $72,000 per node for the IQ 36NL. All three are immediately available.

This story, "Isilon boosts speed, capacity with new NAS boxes" was originally published by Network World.

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