Product profile

The IQ 12000 offers excellent scalability and capacity.

Isilon's IQ 12000 is a hard-disk storage array that offers up to 2.3PB (petabytes) of capacity in a clustered configuration, designed for virtualised storage and archiving in data centres where supporting large scale input/output (I/O) activity is the rule rather than the exception.

The IQ 12000 is a 2U rack mountable array that can accommodate up to 12 3.5in SATA-2 1TB hard-disk drives, providing 12TB of data storage capacity per device. Up to 96 nodes can be clustered together, providing 1.15PB of capacity in total across the entire cluster. That can be doubled to 2.3 petabytes, however, if each IQ 12000 node is fitted with an EX 12000 expansion cabinet. Each EX 12000 also accommodates 12 1TB, and the cabinet is connected to the IQ 12000 nodes via a serial-attached SCSI (SAS) link.

Each IQ 12000 can be attached to the network through a pair of 1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet ports, with two Infiniband interfaces handling the cluster connection. Each node runs on a 3.2GHz Intel Xeon processor, with 4GB of cache memory supplemented by 512MB of NVRAM, flash memory that retains its information when the 12000 is turned off for failover purposes. Dual redundant, hot swappable 500W power supplies and the additional Ethernet port provide additional failover capabilities.

The front of the device features LEDs indicating cluster status and LCD screen displaying configuration information. The 12000 can be configured either through a Web-based management interface, a command line interface, or even from a basic and time-consuming menu system accessible from the small LCD panel on the front panel.

As would be expected in a clustered array costing almost $50,000, Isilon provides some intelligent software within the package. The IQ 12000 runs the vendor's own OneFS operating system, which supports a distributed file system that stripes data across clustered nodes to create a single, shared pool of storage and global namespace.

By controlling how files are placed on individual disks, OneFS can help control redundancy at the volume, directory and file levels, and offers the potential to improve the performance of the disk sub-system.

The integrated AutoBalance feature spreads data evenly across all nodes for example, helping to avoid data bottlenecks and optimise storage utilisation. The OS also includes Flex ProtectAP, which monitors the fans, power consumption, temperature, operating voltages and status of clustered nodes to detect possible failures and migrate data off components it decides might be at risk.

Further protection against problems in mission critical applications is a MediaScan function, which checks files for integrity problems and attempts to fix them if they become corrupted. The software supports standard network authentication and security protocols, including Microsoft Active Directory Services (ADS), Network Information Service, and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP).

Advanced features

On top of the functions provided by OneFS, Isilon provides a number of other applications that add advanced features, though separate licences for these must be purchased in most cases. One of these is SnapshotIQ, a continuous snapshot application tailored for clustered storage environments, which is able to take a point in time copy of multiple volumes spanning multiple nodes.

Another is SmartConnect, which provides the ability to balance both client and user connections across clustered nodes to improve performance, supporting Microsoft Windows, Linux, Unix, and Apple Mac operating systems.

Another application, SmartQuotas, controls how storage capacity is organised and provisioned across the clustered environment. This includes thin provisioning capabilities, which let storage managers allocate storage capacity to users and applications irrespective of whether the physical capacity is available, and also set limits for how much storage a user or group of users can access at any one time.

SyncIQ provides a file replication management tool, and MigrationIQ software that shifts data between different types of storage media according to how often it is accessed or information lifecycle management (ILM) criteria. Isilon has also partnered wide area file system (WAFS) specialist Aspera to provide an application that moves large files across the WAN (wide-area network) at optimum speeds.

For organisations that do not require the massive capacity and scalability that the IQ 12000 provides, there are other arrays in the Isilon IQ family. These include the 1920, 3000, 6000, and 9000 models, with maximum storage capacity for a single unit ranging from 1.92TB to 9TB, and clustered configurations offering maximums of 184TB to 864TB.

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