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GlobeXplorer

A provider of image-intensive geographic data has displaced NAS to install gear from Isilon Systems, in a move that highlights the growth of alternative clustered storage in several vertical markets.

GlobeXplorer, which sells aerial and satellite imagery by subscription to Internet portals, has installed 13.5 Tbytes of Isilon IQ clustered storage equipment to its main data center.

The company, which has more than 500 Tbytes of imagery in its collection, says moving off traditional disk storage has "revolutionized" its services and cut costs significantly. But it's not officially saying whether it will completely replace its NAS collection with Isilon equipment. A spokesman for GlobeXplorer had not returned a call at press time.

GlobeXplorer, which announced its adoption of Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) equipment in 2002, has had trouble expanding capacity fast enough to keep pace with demand from customers like Mapquest.com, National Geographic, real-estate companies, and various federal agencies.

As its canon of maps, land records, satellite and aerial images, flood plain records, property lines, and other information has grown, GlobeXplorer's added numerous NAS arrays. These have been tough to manage, and it's harder to navigate them to get information quickly. That's a drawback, since speed is key to GlobeXplorer's business, because the value of its images is tied to how fast customers can retrieve images (see an example below) in decisionmaking.

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