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Isilon Embraces InfiniBand

Isilon Systems
rolled out new clustered NAS systems today, offering InfiniBand connectivity. The news suggests there might be a role for InfiniBand beyond high-performance computing and supercomputers.

Isilon will offer InfiniBand switches from Mellanox Technologies Ltd. and Topspin Communications Inc. to connect storage nodes in its new IQ 1920i, 300i, and 4800i systems. Previous Isilon IQ Systems required Gigabit Ethernet switches.

Mellanox and Topspin have partnerships with server vendors that take them into HPC and supercomputing sites. The InfiniBand suppliers are banking on their technology's 10-Gbit/s speed to broaden its reach (see Mellanox Stakes 10-Gig Claim, Hitachi Picks Topspin for Blades, Topspin Works With HP, and IBM Puts Topspin on Blades).

InfiniBand is considered an underachiever as a storage technology. Three years ago, its proponents predicted it would replace Fibre Channel in SANs, but it has been relegated to a niche role (see InfiniBand: The Battle for I/O Hill and Whither InfiniBand?).

One analyst says InfiniBands stock could rise if clustered systems catch on as a solution to NAS’s scaleability problems (see Coping With the Nasty Side of NAS). “Just because InfiniBand never really got off the ground commercially doesn’t mean it won’t,” says The Clipper Group Inc. managing director Mike Kahn. “A lot of people will be looking to use InfiniBand as a backbone for clustered storage, so it will come into bigger play.”

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