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EMC Isilon Wins 3TIER Data Management Bid

Moving to network attached storage will allow the rapidly growing company to consolidate big data management, simplify IT infrastructure, and maximize storage.

When renewable energy company 3TIER began to exponentially grow, it realized its direct attached storage was no longer sufficient, cost effective, or efficient for handling the company's big data. It looked for an enterprise-grade storage solution that could consolidate its assessment and forecasting applications into a single resource, while enabling the large quantities of data to be presented to customers online.

"Our primary criteria were reliability and scalability, both of capacity and performance," said Paul English, 3TIER's IT director, in an interview.

3TIER was having data-management difficulties after the company saw exceptional growth in 2010. Last year, 3TIER was ranked 49th among the "100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies" in Washington state by the Puget Sound Business Journal and was ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, based on revenue growth.

After an "extensive" search, 3TIER decided to implement EMC Isilon's scale-out network attached storage (NAS) for its energy assessment and forecasting operations. With the NAS and Isilon SmartPools software application, 3TIER's multiple performance tiers were unified into a single file system that has improved operating efficiency. EMC says this is helping 3TIER to simplify its data management, increase application performance, and reduce costs.

"Instead of having a hundred different storage devices to manage, they now have one," said Sam Grocott, VP of marketing for Isilon. "The simplified management of their large-scale data sets allows them to collaborate with different company areas to arrive at conclusions faster."

3TIER deployed Isilon's X- and NL-Series with SmartPools data movement and management software to create a single file system and point of management for multiple performance tiers. The X-Series platform node accelerates access to massive amounts of critical data and the NL-Series provides near-primary accessibility with data that is frequently used. Isilon's NAS architecture provides flexible storage needs based on fluctuating business demands for companies that use large data, such as Apple's iTunes, which purchased 2 petabytes of storage from Isilon to manage video downloads.

"Thus far we've had the high reliability we hoped for," English said. "We've also been able to incrementally grow the system storage capacity to match our needs while simultaneously improving performance."

Isilon was acquired by EMC last November in a $2.25 billion in a deal that brought EMC's Atmos object storage together with Isilon's scale-out NAS. The purchase helped EMC gain a foothold in the big data NAS market segment, which has been growing rapidly and which market research analysts predict will grow by 36% annually to 2014.

EMC said Isilon's ease of use and smooth scalability is an excellent complement to its Atmos technology for customers in private or public cloud environments. The two companies' technologies combined are expected to reach a $1 billion run-rate during the second half of 2012, EMC officials said.

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