Friday, June 08, 2007


Good news everyone! I have seen the future and it runs OneFS. Yesterday I had one of those Bruce Springsteen moments as Rupert and Rob Anderson (from Isilon) took me through the configuration and operation of their distributed storage system.

The Isilon IQ clustered storage product line addresses enterprises' full spectrum of storage needs - from the highest performance Tier-1 applications to Tier-2 enterprise archive, disk-to-disk backup and disaster recovery. Powered by OneFS, the Isilon IQ family of products creates a single pool of expandable storage that is easy to install and grow - once racked, a 10, 50 or 100+ terabyte cluster takes less than 10 minutes to configure and set up, and capacity can be added on the fly in less than 60 seconds with no downtime.

Their OneFS file-system is distributed across as many nodes as you have and regardless of model (the baby 200 model that has only gig ethernet) or the larger infiniband attached nodes you really can expand and contract the storage pool on the fly and without having to re-format to mount new partitions etc. I imagine this is the kind of technology that makes data centres run smoothly. Yesterday I was able to build a 3 x 2 Terrabyte cluster in a matter of minutes, upgrade the software running on the nodes by upgrading one node only (the OS which is FreeBSD runs on the distributed filing system as well) and then attach a fourth node that was running a previous version of the OS and have it upgrade itself. All this happened while the storage was active and being used and the client workstations didn't see any loss of space or loss of performance! When you compare it to other NAS or SAN solutions it is truly miraculous.
In terms of performance it currently connects to the workstations over gigabit ethernet but they are promising faster connectivity. Traditional performance bottlenecks are addressed by including an IQ Accelerator in you configuration - this essentially gives you a bigger in-road to the storage;
Isilon IQ Accelerators automatically join an Isilon IQ storage cluster in less than 15 seconds and add processing power, memory, bandwidth, and parallel read and write access to a single file system and fully symmetric storage cluster. This is in stark contrast to the limitations of traditional storage and namespace aggregation technologies that require customers to add expensive file server heads and disparate devices to increase performance. These legacy approaches are difficult to manage and fail to aggregate total throughput across a unified storage system.

So, you have a storage pool accessible by a single attachment point which can grow infinitely without the usual performance hit as the filesystem has to address multiple virtualised pools.
I am so impressed - watch this space!

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