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IBC2008: Isilon Bows Improved Performance, Details Turner Deal

Storage specialist Isilon Systems, which uses advanced software to create enterprise-class systems from commodity information-technology storage for large clients like Comcast and NBC Universal, introduced the fifth generation of its “clustered storage” systems.

With the release of its OneFS 5.0 operating system software, Seattle-based Isilon said its X-series clustered storage systems can now deliver up to 20 gigabytes per second of performance and 2.3 petabytes of capacity in a single file system and single volume. Isilon also introduced a performance-acceleration product, Accelerator-x, to support 10-gigabit Ethernet networking capability.

The new version 5.0 software lets the clustered storage system take full advantage of multicore central-processing units Isilon began deploying in its hardware late last year, said Sam Grocott, Isilon senior director of product management.

“We’ve got a lot of systems out there that by simply upgrading [to OneFS 5.0] for free, they can double their performance,” Grocott added. “This is seamless -- it’s a purely software-oriented performance increase just by lighting up the multicore CPUs.”

Isilon also announced at IBC2008 that Turner Broadcasting System deployed several large Isilon IQ clustered storage systems to support file-based work flows at its Atlanta headquarters, including a new 300-terabyte system that will be used to handle production for NBA TV, which Turner is taking over in an outsourcing deal with the National Basketball Association.

The Isilon system for NBA TV links to Harris Nexio AMP ingest/playout servers, Apple Final Cut Pro editing systems, Aspera content-delivery software and Harmonic’s Rhozet transcoding product. The system will allow Turner editors to edit-in-place on the Isilon storage without transferring the files, as well as to automatically pull content from the NBA’s SGI-based archive in Secaucus, N.J.

“We’ll use Isilon to store a season-long library for NBA TV,” said Ken Brady, director of technical operations and digital media for Turner Studios. “We’re using Nexio as the front end and Isilon for the long-term storage, and we’re also able to pull file-based content from the NBA archive in New Jersey. We’re using Aspera as the transfer mechanism between the two. The NBA’s got a very nice media system that’s Web-based to let you search for and request content. Once they fulfill it, the Aspera picks it up and moves it to Isilon in Atlanta. It’s all automated. Once it hits here, we flip it through another Rhozet system to format for NBA TV’s use on-air.”

Turner has made a multimillion-dollar investment in Isilon for a total of more than 600 TB of storage. The cable programmer is using Isilon for editing storage for its postproduction department; as a central rendering point for the Rhozet, Telestream and AnyStream encoding systems it uses to repurpose content for digital-media platforms like iTunes, Xbox 360 and Joost; and to support on-air graphics.

Brady said the Isilon systems have performed well and give good “bang-for-the-buck” compared with storage sold by traditional video server vendors. He also likes the ability to quickly add multiple terabytes of storage to the existing systems as Turner’s file-based operations continue to grow.

“The big thing for us is the scalability,” Brady added. “We’ve never stopped growing at Turner Studios.”