EMC Isilon

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EMC - Isilon
Industry Data storage devices / Computer Storage
Founded 2001 (2001)
Headquarters Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Key people
Sujal Patel, former CEO
Slogan Simple is Smart
Website www.emc.com/isilon

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.

Business overview[edit]

In 2002, Isilon received venture capital funding from Sequoia Capital.[1] Isilon's customers include NBC Universal,[2] Cedars-Sinai, Kelman Technologies, and Kodak, among others.[3]

Isilon designed and developed its clustered storage systems specifically to address the needs of storing, managing and accessing digital content and other unstructured data.[4] 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[5]), which unifies a cluster of nodes into a single shared resource.[6]

Isilon sells its products indirectly through a channel partner program that includes over 100 resellers and distributors, and directly through a field sales force.[4]

Financial troubles and executive changes[edit]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Technology and architecture[edit]

Isilon clustered storage system architecture consists of independent nodes that are all integrated with the OneFS operating system software.[9] 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.[4]

Nodes within the clustered storage system communicate with each other over a dedicated Infiniband local area network.[4] 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 on cluster size).[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] New products were launched in September 2008, raising stated capacity to 2.3 PB[13] and in March 2009, raising stated capacity to 3.4 PB.[14] In May 2011, they raised the stated capacity to 15 PB.[15] As of November 2013, the stated capacity limit is 20.7 PB.[10]As of December 2014, the stated capacity limit is 30.2 PB in the NL400 specifications sheet.

The most common types of nodes [16] 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 per 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 (a common administrative pain point). Isilon also delivers relatively high storage utilization rates.[17]

Isilon provides multi-protocol access to files using NFS or SMB/CIFS or FTP. In addition, Isilon supports HDFS as a protocol allowing Hadoop analytics [18] to be performed on files resident on the storage. Data can be stored using one protocol and accessed using another protocol. The key building blocks for Isilon include the OneFS operating system, the NAS architecture, the scale-out data lakes, and other enterprise features.

Acquisition by EMC[edit]

On November 15, 2010, it was announced that EMC Corporation would acquire Isilon for $2.25 billion.[19] 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.


  1. ^ "Sequoia Capital funds Isilon". 
  2. ^ "Isilon serves up digital storage for NBC Universal". Reuters. 2007-04-16. 
  3. ^ Isilon Systems, Inc. Customer Case Studies.
  4. ^ a b c d Isilon Systems, Inc. Form 10-K. (2007-03-15)
  5. ^ FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December 17, 2007
  6. ^ Apicella, Mario (2006-10-12). "Clustered storage winks at the enterprise". InfoWorld. 
  7. ^ Raffo, Dave (April 3, 2008). "Isilon 'fesses up'". SearchStorage. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  8. ^ Raffo, Dave (2008-04-04). "Isilon reveals turnaround plan". SearchStorage. 
  9. ^ "Big data meets big storage: an in-depth look at Isilon's scale-out storage solution". Ars Technica. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "EMC Isilon X-Series" (PDF). EMC. November 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Isilon Systems, Inc. “Clustered Storage Revolution”, White Paper. (2006-09)
  12. ^ Isilon Systems, Inc. “Isilon Releases New Clustered Storage Systems, Delivering Unprecedented Scale, Performance And Value”. Press Release. (2007-7-23)
  13. ^ "Isilon Family - Big Data Storage, Scale-out NAS Storage - EMC". isilon.com. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Isilon Family - Big Data Storage, Scale-out NAS Storage - EMC". isilon.com. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  15. ^ "EMC Newsroom: EMC News and Press Releases". isilon.com. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  16. ^ http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/white-papers/h8202-isilon-onefs-wp.pdf "EMC Isilon OneFS Operating System"
  17. ^ http://www.emc.com/collateral/software/data-sheet/h10541-ds-isilon-platform.pdf "EMC Isilon Scale-out Storage Product Family"
  18. ^ http://isilonblog.emc.com/an-interview-with-doug-cutting-the-founder-of-hadoop/ "Interview with Doug Cutting"
  19. ^ "EMC to Buy Isilon Systems for $2.25 Billion". New York Times. 2010-11-15. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°35′51″N 122°20′04″W / 47.597431°N 122.334395°W / 47.597431; -122.334395