CORAID: Some ‘SAN’ New Technology

When you think SAN you might think expensive hardware solutions to expensive storage problems. But CORAID has a few technological tricks up their sleeve. They claim to leverage existing technology, and turn it into a storage solutions for pennies on the dollar. And they’re doing it all through the channel. Storage VARs might want to perk up…
Over the phone, I spoke to Kevin Brown, CEO of CORAID and Josh Leslie, Channel VP. We discussed EtherDrive –their flagship product. They jumped right into the technology and some surprising figures. Outright, both Brown and Leslie asserted that anywhere from 40-60% of an IT budget that’s spent on costly high-performance SAN environments can be cut with their EtherDrive technology. Plus, it comes with 5-8 times the performance of ‘legacy’ solutions, they claimed.
The US Navy, NASA and labs working on the human Genome are just a few customers they named working with CORAID EtherDrive technology.
Bunk you say? Nay, it’s actually quite simple. It’s simply a different way of designating your standard network. Where’ SANs typically are based on dedicated connections, with a big storage server, EtherDrive is based on scaled-out independent nodes. No bottle neck, no super-expensive fiber.
“It’s raw, layer 2 Ethernet” said Brown. “No bottlenecks [you just add] as many NICs in back of server as you want and enable port flooding. [It enables you to] quickly and inexpensively scale-out tons of IO.” He went on to explain that the storage scales linearly, and you can add as many ‘shelves’ of storage without issue.
And how do they do it so cheap?  ”There aren’t big boxes with custom hardware. We take off the shelf commodity hardware — nothing special” said Brown. “The scale-out storage arrays run our firmware and handle the raw Ethernet.”
And as for their channel strategy? CORAID started up only through word of mouth with Linux-based companies jumping on board. They were lucky and pretty successful,
They also coyly noted that if you’d like to add an App to a virtualization area using XAN, it can be a hassle. But with EtherDrive, you can provision it straight from the hypervisor. And if your throughput gets slow after implementing it? Just pop in another network card. Mix and match SSDs and SATA drives. It’s really all good.
That being said, today (March 23, 2010)  EtherDrive SRX-Series storage arrays get a new family of host bus adapters (HBAs) enabling high-speed Ethernet SAN access in Windows, Solaris, and Linux environments.
Price tag starts at under $500 per terabyte and scales to multiple petabytes.
EtherDrive SRX-Series can support up to six Gigabit Ethernet or four 10-Gigabit Ethernet connections, for virtualization, cloud or primary storage. Primary storage applications can also deliver over 500MB/second  throughput.

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