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Isilon Adds Thin Provisioning, Clusters

Clustering specialist Isilon is the latest vendor to add thin provisioning to its product line, unveiling souped-up hardware and software today. (See Isilon Releases New Systems.)

Thin provisioning, which aims to ensure that physical disk capacity is used only as it is needed, is a hot topic for many storage vendors. (See 3PAR Debuts 'Thin Provisioning', Pillar Pushes Provisioning, Capacity, Thin Is Definitely In, and A Data Reduction Dossier.) Recent weeks have seen a frenzy of activity around the topic, with EMC slowly adding flesh to the bones of its strategy, Compellent tying its NAS offerings closer to Microsoft, and a war of words breaking out over who invented the technology. (See EMC's Thin Pickings, Compellent Adds Integral NAS, Revisiting Thin Provisioning's 'Firsts', Tips for Risk-Free Thin Provisioning.)

Isilon's thin provisioning relies on software called SmartQuotas that runs on top of the vendor's OneFS operating system. This enables IT administrators to allocate storage beyond what is physically available and also set limits for how much storage a user or group of users can access. "It's a license key [that] runs across the entire product line," explains Brett Goodwin, Isilon's vice president of marketing and business development.

At least one analyst says that thin provisioning, which is already being used by Isilon rival EMC on its Celerra family, is a crucial addition to the Isilon product line. (See Thin Is Definitely In.) "With Isilon, because it's a single file system, you need thin provisioning," says Tony Asaro of the Enterprise Strategy Group, adding that this can be used to provision storage on a per-application or per-user basis.

Isilon also added to its high-end clustering hardware today, taking the wraps off the 9-Tbyte IQ 9000, which contains twelve 750-Gbyte SATA disks from Seagate. The two-rack-unit-high box is 3 Tbytes larger than Isilon's previous high-end offering, the IQ 6000, which contains 500-Gbyte SATA disks.

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