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Isilon First To Offer Scale-Out iSCSI Block And File Solution

Primarily known for its file-based, scale-out storage solutions, Isilon Systems is shipping what it calls the first and only, unified scale-out storage platform for the enterprise that consolidates file and block-based applications onto a single, shared pool of storage. It has integrated the iSCSI protocol into its OneFS operating system, and the resulting ability to access both file and block-level data opens up the enterprise virtualization market, which is 70-80 percent block-based. Company representatives claim other vendors like IBM, NetApp and HP are either exclusively block or file, but Isilon is the only vendor who can do both. Isilon's iSCSI functionality is available immediately and is free for existing customers.

Pushan Rinnen, research director at Gartner, agrees that this gives Isilon a leg up on the competition. The most significant aspect of this announcement is that Isilon will be the first major scale-out storage architecture vendor to offer file and block support with iSCSI, so it will bring to the market the ease of use of scale-out NAS into the block storage arena, she says. "The key thing is the simplicity of Isilon storage systems can now be applied to the block side of the world."

North West Geomatics Ltd., which specializes in digital remote sensing and digital aerial photography, has been using the product for three months and was able to consolidate its database usage to iSCSI, says John Welter, vice president of technology. "We managed to get rid of a whole separate tier of storage we've had to manage in the past. And performance is quite a bit better too."

Another early adopter, Webtrends Inc., was equally enthusiastic about the iSCSI addition. Moving to a virtualized environment created a "management nightmare" for its previous storage system that went away with Isilon, says Josh Wisely. "With Isilon, management is simple, application performance is up and we're utilizing resources more efficiently. Plus, with Isilon's new iSCSI capability, I can manage both file and block-level applications from one, easy-to-use file system."

This is a big move strategically for Isilon. By adding the block-based iSCSI protocol to its data management and protection applications that already support file-based protocols, including CIFS, NFS, HTTP and FTP, customers can configure, manage, clone, thin provision, snapshot, tier, replicate and secure LUNs with less complexity and cost. It allows the company to solve a much broader set of enterprise challenges.