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EMC Isilon: A Smart Storage System that Grows with Your Needs

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on November 20, 2013

According to IDC, in 2011 there were 1.8 trillion gigabytes of data in 500 quadrillion files. This data more than doubles every two years.

If you’re already feeling the pressure of crazy data growth, EMC has developed a smart solution for organizations who need a more effective way to address storage overgrowth. I want to show you how EMC Isilon addresses both capacity and personnel issues in a cost effective way.

While explosive data growth is a real problem, the good news is the cost of storing and managing a gigabyte of data keeps dropping. Unfortunately for administrators, IDC claims that for a 75X growth in the number of files or containers, the number of staff will only increase by 1.5X. This means each storage administrator will be responsible for 50X the number of files they previously managed.

The problem with scale-up storage

When setting up file storage, there are two broad approaches: scale-up or scale-out.

The traditional approach uses scale-up storage. This involves buying a storage controller or head with enough capacity to meet anticipated storage growth numbers and adding disk space as needed.

A common problem with scale-up is outgrowing controller and network capacity long before you run out of disk space. Once you reach the performance capacity of that head, performance drops, even if it could support more storage capacity. At that point, you need to either the entire system with a new storage system – requiring a complex and costly data migration project – or add more storage systems, multiplying storage complexity.

Scale-out storage takes a streamlined approach to increasing capacity and performance. With EMC Isilon scale-out NAS storage, the disk space, storage controller and networking come in a single package. Simply purchase as much capacity as you need to start – a minimum of three nodes. Then, as storage demand grows, add more Isilon nodes (up to 144), to increase disk space, I/O and processing power simultaneously.

Isilon is designed for the mid-market

Isilon storage is ideal for Home Directory and File Share applications. It is also useful for smaller groups with large amounts of data in fields such as media and entertainment, life sciences, manufacturing, government, healthcare, higher education, research facilities and Internet content or cloud service providers.

In addition, Isilon works well for data-intensive applications like virtualization, financial quantitative analysis, geo-mapping, eDiscovery, Business Intelligence and oil and gas exploration.

Why we like it

In addition to enabling traditional file-based applications, today’s ‘enterprise-at-scale’ must support growing requirements for:

  • An increasingly mobile workforce
  • Data analytics to gain new insight that can accelerate your business and
  • Cloud-based capabilities for greater efficiency and flexibility.

To address the challenges posed by these next-generation applications and use cases, the successful ‘enterprise-at-scale’ demands a storage infrastructure that is:

  • Easy to manage
  • Massively scalable
  • Highly efficient
  • Extremely secure

Isilon addresses these challenges though its scale-out operating system called OneFS. OneFS combines the file system, volume management and data protection and other features in a single package.

Isilon and OneFS allow the customer to scale from three to 144 nodes (18TB to 20PB) in a single storage pool with a single point of management. Adding storage is as simple as plugging in an additional node to the array, a 60 second task which doesn’t require bringing the storage off line. For optimum performance and low cost, OneFS comes with auto-tiering. This means while traditional scale-up storage reaches a peak of 60% effective utilization, Isilon can deliver 80% or greater. In fact, utilization efficiency increases the more nodes are added to the system.

Along with integration for Sharepoint, Syncplicity and other file sharing software, Isilon just released a new feature called MobileIQ. With MobileIQ, users can access their Home Directory or file share data stored on EMC Isilon through the Syncplicity mobile app without a Syncplicity account (free read access). This enhances the availability of data to your home directory users without any additional cost, another benefit for running home directories and file shares on Isilon storage.

To dive deeper, read the EMC Isilon TCO Benefits for Large-Scale Home Directories guide.

What you should do today

When planning your storage roadmap, consider how scale-out storage vs. scale-up storage could be an effective choice for your storage performance goals. If you’re still not sure whether this solution will work in your unique infrastructure, consider learning more about Softchoice’s Storage TechCheck. Guided by dedicated EMC experts, this Tech Check will help you take a holistic look at your storage environment to make the best decisions for your storage performance goals.

More about the Softchoice Storage TechCheck

With the Storage TechCheck, an agentless data collection tool gathers information about your existing infrastructure. This data is then analyzed by Softchoice storage experts who consolidate the broad data sets into actionable insights that are validated with a client findings and recommendations session. Finally, we conduct a storage workshop with your firm to review the business demands and current issues, and evaluate the options for creating a storage architecture that addresses those issues and provides a roadmap for meeting current business plans.

View the Softchoice Storage TechCheck.

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