EMC to buy Isilon Systems

Isilon X series nodes (c) 2010 Isilon from Isilon's website
Isilon X series nodes (c) 2010 Isilon from Isilon's website

I understand the rationale behind EMC’s purchase of Isilon scale out NAS technology for big data applications.  More and more data is being created every day and most of that unstructured.  How can one begin to support multiple PBs of file data that’s coming online in the next couple of years without scale out NAS.  Scale out NAS has the advantage that within the same architecture one can scale from TBs to PBs of file storage by just adding storage and/or accessor nodes.  Sounds great.

Isilon for backup storage?

But what’s surprising to me is the use of Isilon NL-Series storage in more mundane applications like Database backup.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on how Oracle RMAN compressed backups don’t dedupe very well.  The impetus for that post was that a very large enterprise customer I was talking with had just started deploying Isilon NAS systems in their backup environment to handle non-dedupable data.  The customer was backing up PB of storage, a good portion of which was non-dedupable, and as such, they planed to use Isilon Systems to store this data.

I had never seen scale out NAS systems used for backup storage so I was intrigued to find out why.  Essentially, this customer was in the throws of replacing tape and between deduplication appliances and Isilon storage they believed they had the solutions to eliminate tape forever from their backup systems.

All this begs the question where does EMC put Isilon –  with Celerra and other storage platforms, with Atmos and other cloud services, or with Data Domain and other backup systems?  It seems one could almost break out the three Isilon storage systems and split them into these three business groups but given Isilon’s flexibility it probably belongs in storage platforms.

However, I would think that BRS would have an immediate market requirement for Isilon’s NL-Series storage to complement it’s other backup systems.  I guess we will know shortly where EMC puts it – until then it’s anyone’s guess.

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