Isilon Rolls Out Unified Scale-Out Storage Platform

August 31, 2010

By Bio-IT World Staff

September 1, 2010
| Data storage company Isilon is introducing what it claims is the industry’s first and only unified scale-out storage platform for the enterprise, by integrating the iSCSI protocol into its OneFS operating system.

The new platform allows clients to consolidate file- and block-based applications onto a single, shared pool of storage, simplifying data management to increase resource utilization and efficiency for virtualized and non-virtualized environments.   

Sam Grocott, Isilon’s VP marketing, told Bio-IT World that historically, Isilon focused on NAS (network-attached storage) for unstructured data. “Last year, we introduced products to focus on segment of virtualized data, so we could handle virtualized and file data. Now, we’re introducing a unified scale platform.”
“We’re the only enterprise vendor offering file and block,” adds Nick Kirsch, director of product development.
“Until now, enterprises have been forced to either deploy separate systems for separate applications, or attempt to consolidate on complex architectures that handicap growth and inflate costs,” says Grocott. Isilon’s latest storage solutions “meet the needs of today’s virtualized enterprise data center by scaling storage in-line with virtual server demands to minimize costs and maximize efficiency.” 

“Applications like vmware and email require block storage requiring iSCSI [a protocol for accessing a block device], whereas bioinformatics and sequencing are file-based applications,” says Grocott. With the addition of block to file, all can now be stored in the unified scale-out system. “It’s no longer just your file or sequenced data,” says Grocott. One current life sciences customer is the Oklahoma Medical Research Research, which has consolidated all its life sciences data into one storage pool.

Growth Curve
By delivering both file- and block-level data access from a single, scale-out solution, Isilon says it can eliminate the data fragmentation common with traditional SAN and NAS in virtualized environments.
“Bioinformatics groups don’t [typically] have an army of IT managers,” says Grocott. “They’re not only managing sequencing storage but databases, analysis, etc. . . Now they can simplify their environment even more, consolidate SAN and block-storage applications into the same single resource, which is easy to manage and grow. It’s a major advance in consolidating and simplifying these environments that aren’t IT centric.”

And one more thing, says Grocott: “It is free and seamless,” at least to existing customers.

Isilon is one of several storage companies enjoying a purple patch as the demand for storage in life sciences and other verticals surges. Business grew nearly 50% in the first half of 2010, with 17% revenues attributable to the life sciences sector, Isilon’s second largest vertical after media. The firm’s stock price reflects that growth, rising about 350% in the past 12 months.

Among Isilon’s marquee customers in the life sciences space are the Broad Institute and BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute), which Grocott says has been a customer since the beginning of 2010. Grocott won’t divulge precise numbers but says that Isilon is “working very closely to help with the build out” of BGI’s data center, which could reach a staggering one Exabyte by the end of this year.