Isilon Systems is hoping that by launching an option for the latest 1TB disk drives in it clustered NAS, it will open new applications such as near-line archival storage for the devices.
The company’s multi-node devices are already offered in a range of configurations that give different balances of performance and capacity, by varying the ratio of controller data pumping power to disk capacity.
With ITB disk drives now offered as an option on both standard nodes that feature controller and disk, and on disk-only nodes, Isilon says that it has lowered the cost of capacity-tailored systems to below $2,000 per GB.
It claims that this now makes near-line archiving a practical application for its high-capacity NAS devices, which like other clustered storage systems can be easily increased in capacity or performance simply by adding nodes, and present just one file system or namespace to clients accessing data.
We’ve already got a couple of customers using our systems for exactly that, said Isilon marketing director Jay Wampold. One of those is the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Wampold.
Research into cancer therapy at the hospital involves protein analysis of hundreds of thousands of blood samples. Each sample generates 60GB of data, which is enough to fill a laptop computer. The hospital has installed over 100TB of Isilon storage to handle that data, Wampold said.
The previous largest disk drive offered by Isilon was a 750GB device. On that basis, if $2,000 per TB is a new floor price, then the previous floor must have been around $2,700 per TB.
Wampold said that would be only a crude approximation. The bigger disk drives now allow customers to build clusters of a given size using less nodes, but the advantage is greater for bigger total capacities. Wampold also said that along with the new disk drives, the company has reduced its prices with some accompanying hardware changes.
The sub-$2,000 per TB cost applies to an Isilon IQ12000 node running 12-off 1TB drives, paired with a controller-less, disk-only EX 12000 node with the same amount of disk. Given that the two boxes list at $47,250 and $29,000 respectively, Isilon is obviously assuming hefty price discounts in its calculations.
Since its hugely successful IPO late last year, Isilon has had a very tough time on Wall Street. The US stock market initially set an enormously high valuation on the company. But after Isilon missed more than one set of quarterly financial targets, Wall Street reacted violently and drove the company’s share price down from almost $30 to around $5. Last month Isilon was forced to dump its CEO and CFO.
Asked about sales, Wampold would only repeat what the company said in July that it has over 500 customers, more than half of which had been gained in the previous nine months. Wampold also said that the company’s combined revenue for the first three quarters of this year was up 70% year-on-year.
But competition from large players is increasing. Network Appliance launched its GX-powered clustered NAS in 2006, although it is still not saying how many of those systems it has sold, and by this summer had only named one GX reference customer.
The other giant of the NAS sector, EMC, said last week that it will launch some form of clustered storage within the next seven months. Hewlett-Packard bought itself into clustered NAS early this year when it bought start-up PolyServe.
If you look at NetApp, EMC and HP, they are all validating clustered storage. We believe we have a two to three year and widening lead over them in this market, Wampold said.
Isilon has said openly in the past that its file system is tuned to deliver the best performance when dealing with very large files which is why it first began looking for customers in the film and TV industries.
Yesterday Wampold said that it will continue to develop its system to allow it to work better with smaller files. But he also said that even in its current state Isilon’s storage is not exclusively restricted to large files. For example Kodak is using Isilon systems to store web-accessed consumer picture albums, which include small thumbnails files or images. Those are sequentially and not randomly accessed, he said.