Coraid Doubles Density of Ethernet SANs

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Startup SAN maker Coraid unveiled a new ATA-over-Ethernet (AoE) storage array that boasts a 50 percent capacity increase over previous models and features a set of RESTful automation interfaces for cloud storage environments.

Coraid’s EtherDrive SAN arrays marry Ethernet connectivity with SATA, SAS or solid state disk (SSD) drives through use of the open, lightweight AoE network storage protocol. The AoE protocol transports ATA disk commands over Ethernet without TCP/IP overhead and making it possible for disk drives to become AoE devices connected directly to an Ethernet network.

With today’s debut of the EtherDrive SRX4200, Coraid has tweaked the capacity, performance and features to make its SAN arrays suitable for cloud storage deployments.

The SRX4200 packs a mix of 36 SATA, SAS, or SSD drives into a four rack-unit chassis. In addition, Coraid has released a RESTful storage management interface enabling cloud automation and scripting for the SRX4200, a capability that will also be available for its other EtherDrive products.

The SRX4200 delivers performance of up to 1,800MBps with multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connections per shelf. Each SRX4200 supports 72TB of capacity with 2TB 3.5” SATA drives, and up to 108TB with upcoming 3TB drives, for a grand total of more than 1PB of storage per data center rack.

Coraid’s CEO Kevin Brown said, at about $600 per terabyte, the SRX4200 touts a price performance advantage of up to 8x over Fibre Channel SANs. He said the end game is to bring “Amazon economics” to enterprise storage.

“Amazon is about a nickel per gigabyte per month. I can make a nickel profitable today, but can deliver that with performance that’s better than Fibre Channel with enterprise-class features,” said Brown.

Despite its price-performance paradigm, Coraid is facing hurdles familiar to many startups.

“One of the challenges we face is that customers haven’t heard of us before. We’re not EMC or NetApp. I was a vice president at NetApp and had never heard of Coraid,” Brown said. “The other challenge is reach. We don’t have a massive sales force, but we are growing quickly.”

Another challenge for Coraid arose when NetApp threatened legal action over the sale of Coraid’s Z-Series NAS systems. The Z-Series is based on the open source Zettabyte File System (ZFS), which is at the heart of a court battle between NetApp and Oracle.

Brown would not comment on the NetApp situation and said the focus for Coraid now is to build out its enterprise feature set for the SRX platform.

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Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.

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