The ability to analyze large volumes of unstructured data, it turns out, is just one of the benefits of the big data era. The ability to actually use unstructured data – including audio and video content – is pretty important too.
Last week, for example, Apple announced it was purchasing 12 petabytes worth of storage capacity to support its upcoming cloud-based iTunes service, in which users can store media assets in the cloud. Users will be able to access and play iTunes music and videos from any device with an internet connection.
The storage technology that makes Apple’s upcoming cloud service possible is scale-out network-attached storage hardware and software from Isilon Systems, recently acquired by EMC. Isilon’s scale-out storage architecture allows customers to pay as storage needs increase and should make it easier to manage, extract and use specific assets from large volumes of stored data. Chuck Hollis, EMC’s global marketing CTO, wrote in a blog post that Isilon’s approach to storage “stands in sharp contrast from traditional NAS approaches like EMC’s VNX and NetApp.” Hollis explained:
In a OneFS cluster, every node is a peer– there are no control or master nodes. Every node has enough of a complete map of all resources to satisfy any incoming request.
New nodes are simply interconnected, and the cluster is instructed to incorporate the new CPU, memory and storage into the complex. Data is transparently moved to the new node to avoid it becoming an unwanted hot spot for newly written data.
As all resources are pooled, utilization and performance is typically much higher that simply trying to aggregate multiple, standalone NAS devices. And all of this scalability is achieved without having to scale administrative effort — whether it’s 100 terabytes or 100 petabytes — the administrative effort is roughly similar.
Isilon today released the latest versions of two of its storage platforms, Isilon S200 and Isilon X200, both running on Isilon’s OneFS 6.5 operating system. The S-series provides 1.4 million NFS ops and aggregate throughput of more than 85 gigabytes per second. It is twice as fast and half the price of previous iterations, said Sam Grocott, Isilon’s vice president of marketing.
Customers can choose from a number of drive configuration options, including solid state drives with either serial attached SCSI or serial ATA drives, and combine them with next-generation quad core processors, according to the company.
EMC acquired Seattle-based Isilon in November. The move is part of a concerted effort on EMC’s part to become a major player in the world of big data. Just four months earlier, the company announced it was in the process of acquiring Greenplum, maker of MPP-based data warehouse appliances designed to analyze large volumes of structured and unstructured data.
In addition to Apple, Sony Image Works has been using Isilon’s platform to manage its vast library of digital assets used to make special effects for feature films. The platform makes it easier for Sony artists to manipulate and share computer-generated clips and other digital assets, said Nick Kirsch, Isilon’s director of product management.
While data analytics gets the lion’s share of attention around big data, flexible, accessible storage is also an important aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked. Platforms like Isilon’s S-Series promise companies with large amounts of unstructured data the ability to work with it in ways not previously possible with traditional storage methods.
And not just in terms of analysis.
Said Grocott: “We think there is a much broader story to be told.”
Check out this link to watch Isilon’s CEO Sujal Patel talk to Wikibon.org’s Dave Vellante about what big data means to customers and why we need new architectures.