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Digibug

John Treadway isn't worried about taking the road less traveled. When the CEO of online photo commerce provider Digibug went looking for a better way to store and serve photo files quickly on the Internet, he wasn't put off by what some consider a proprietary solution from a smaller vendor.

Instead, Treadway and his team picked a storage networking product from Coraid Inc. , which, along with Zetera, has the distinction of offering an alternative to iSCSI for companies interested in IP SANs. (See Proprietary Gear Seeks Foothold.)

Like Zetera, Coraid deploys an alternative to TCP in the TCP/IP stack. In Coraid's case, that means AOE (ATA-Over-Ethernet), which enables servers to view a RAID array as a local drive, allowing the use of existing Ethernet NICs for the transfer of block-level storage data to the arrays.

Coraid sells its EtherDrive product as a chassis equipped to handle 15 disks, starting at $3,995. Users can add their own SATA drives, or Coraid will do that if need be. The chassis are compatible with Linux, Solaris, and via third-party software maker Rocket Division Software, Windows.

According to Coraid CEO Jim Kemp, his solution is cheaper and easier to use than iSCSI. "iSCSI has a whole TCP/IP stack. We're not disparaging that, but the stacks are often unnecessary," when what users really want is simplicity, Kemp adds.

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