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Isilon bellyflops into Smart Pools

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Scale-out file storage supplier Isilon is clustering its clustered systems into Smart Pools with automatic data movement between them to provide better balanced storage resources across storage tiers for its customers' applications.

Isilon supplies scale-out clusters for file storage: the S-Series for IOPS-focussed applications; the X-Series for ones needing the most throughput; and the NL-Series for archiving data. Its systems compete with those from BlueArc, DataDirect and Panasas in high-performance computing and massive file processing applications found in the media world. They also compete with clustered NetApp filers, HP's X9000, and IBM's SONAS.

Smart Pools are part of the v6.0 release of Isilon's OneFS operating system, and are Isilon's response to the continually increasing scale-out storage needs of its customers. They enjoy having a single file system, single namespace and single point management inside each Isilon clustered system, but with multiple clusters the management burden grows and the ability to identify wasted capacity or I/O bottlenecks gets harder.

Smart Pools have the different S-Series, X-Series and NL-Series nodes grouped or clustered together and linked by InfiniBand, Isilon's backed storage link, so that they share a single filesystem and a single management point across the three tiers of storage.

The new software is policy-driven and can automatically allocate data to the appropriate storage tier over time. Data movement between the tiers is said to be seamless and encompass read/write activity, locking semantics, backup application interaction - that makes sense doesn't it - and underlying file identification. It does not use left-behind stubs when files are moved.

Smart Pools provides file-level granularity and control with three levels of control: automatic policies; manual setting; or API interface. Sysadms can manage performance, data layout, storage tier alignment and protection settings at both file and directory level.

Another new application, Insight IQ, works with Smart Pools and provides analytic functions to identify and fix I/O bottlenecks, to see data usage history and trends and help Sysadms, make the best use of storage pools.

More capacity or performance resource can be added, Isilon says, in 60 seconds, with a seamless increase in the capabilities of any tier in the system on demand.

Its release quotes David Hasson, director of IT for the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging: “With Isilon, we've unified three tiers into a single system, reducing management to less than an hour a week and improving operating efficiency.” That's quite a claim; less than 60 minutes a week spent on management.

OneFS 6.0, SmartPools and the InsightIQ applications are all available from July 30, with OneFS available as an upgrade for existing customers and standard with all new purchases.

SmartPools has a list price of $3,950-$9,950 depending on the node, and InsightIQ is listed at $1,950-$3,850 similarly varying with the node. ®

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