|Industry||Data storage devices / Computer Storage|
|Headquarters||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|Key people||Sujal Patel, former CEO|
Isilon Systems was a computer hardware and software company headquartered in Seattle. It sold clustered file system hardware and software for digital content and other unstructured data to a variety of industries. Isilon was acquired by EMC Corporation in November 2010.
Isilon designed and developed its clustered storage systems specifically to address the needs of storing, managing and accessing digital content and other unstructured data. An Isilon clustered storage system is composed of three or more nodes. Each node is a self-contained, rack-mountable device that contains industry standard hardware, including disk drives, CPU, memory and network interfaces, and is integrated with proprietary operating system software called OneFS (based on FreeBSD), which unifies a cluster of nodes into a single shared resource.
Isilon sells its products indirectly through a channel partner program that includes over 100 resellers and distributors, and directly through a field sales force.
Financial troubles and executive changes
Sujal Patel, who founded Isilon in 2001 and served as its chief technology officer, returned to the company as CEO in October 2007. This followed the resignation of Chief Executive Steve Goldman and Chief Financial Officer Stu Fuhlendorf. In April 2008 Isilon reported questionable revenue recognition events to the SEC under the previous regime. A number of earning reports submitted to the SEC from 2006 and 2007 were revised. Isilon introduced a new revenue recognition policy in order to remedy the previous issues.
Technology and architecture
Isilon clustered storage system architecture consists of independent nodes that are all integrated with the OneFS operating system software. The systems can be installed in standard data center environments and are accessible to users and applications running Windows, Unix/Linux and Mac operating systems using industry standard file sharing protocols over standard Gigabit or 10-Gigabit Ethernet.
Nodes within the clustered storage system communicate with each other over a dedicated Infiniband local area network. The architecture is designed so that each node has full visibility and write/read access to or from a single expandable file system.
The core technology of the Isilon clustered storage consists of OneFS, which provides a single unified operating system and can deliver over 100 GB/s of throughput (depending cluster size). The OneFS software is designed with file-striping functionality across each node in a cluster, a fully distributed lock manager, caching, fully distributed meta-data, and a remote block manager to maintain global coherency and synchronization across the cluster.
In July 2007, Isilon announced the release of the IQ 9000 and EX 9000 clustered storage products, claiming scalability of up to 1.6 petabytes of capacity in a single file system and single volume. New products were launched in September 2008, raising stated capacity to 2.3 PB and in March 2009, raising stated capacity to 3.4 PB. In May 2011, they raised the stated capacity to 15 PB. As of November 2013, the stated capacity limit is 20.7 PB.
The most common types of nodes  are the S-series nodes that deliver high IOPS, the X-series nodes which deliver high throughput, and the NL-series nodes which deliver high-capacity. All three types of nodes can co-exist simultaneously in a single file system on the same cluster. The scale-out architecture can grow up to 144 nodes in a single cluster and nodes can be added as needed for capacity and/or performance. This allows files to be stored in one container and eliminates islands of storage, which is a common pain point for a storage admin. Apart from the simplicity, Isilon delivers very high storage utilization rates. A scale-out file system is the ideal architecture to store file data in the growing digital universe.
Isilon provides multi-protocol access to files using NFS or SMB/CIFS. In addition, Isilon uniquely supports HDFS as a protocol allowing Big Data Hadoop analytics  to be performed on files resident on the storage. It’s a scale-out data lake where data can be stored using one protocol but accessed using another protocol. Ultimately, the key building blocks for Isilon include the OneFS operating system, the NAS architecture, the scale-out data lake, and the enterprise grade features.
Acquisition by EMC
On November 15, 2010, it was announced that EMC Corporation would acquire Isilon for $2.25 billion. EMC said that with its acquisition of Isilon, it would be better able to provide storage infrastructure for private and public cloud environments, with a focus on so-called big data, like gene sequencing, online streaming, and oil and natural gas seismic studies.
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- FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December 17, 2007
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- Isilon Systems, Inc. “Isilon Releases New Clustered Storage Systems, Delivering Unprecedented Scale, Performance And Value”. Press Release. (2007-7-23)
- http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/white-papers/h8202-isilon-onefs-wp.pdf "EMC Isilon OneFS Operating System"
- http://www.emc.com/collateral/software/data-sheet/h10541-ds-isilon-platform.pdf "EMC Isilon Scale-out Storage Product Family"
- http://isilonblog.emc.com/emc-isilon-building-blocks-an-overview/ "EMC Isilon Building Blocks - An Overview"
- http://isilonblog.emc.com/an-interview-with-doug-cutting-the-founder-of-hadoop/ "Interview with Doug Cutting"
- "EMC to Buy Isilon Systems for $2.25 Billion". New York Times. 2010-11-15.