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CORAID - A Disruptive Technology In The World Of Storage

On March 23rd, CORAID - a California-based storage provider - announced availability of their new EtherDrive SRX Series storage arrays and extended family of Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) for high-speed Ethernet SAN connectivity for Windows, Solaris and Linux environments. With the announcement, CORAID delivers compelling price/performance characteristics that most certainly make its technology a disruptive entry in the storage market and an attractive offering for users who need connectivity and speed more than a laundry list of storage platform-based software offerings.

The new EtherDrive SRX Series supports both 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet connectivity to the host via CORAID Ethernet adapters. CORAID supports what they call "port flooding" by installing additional HBAs and port connectivity in the SRX Series arrays. The port flooding capability has proven to be advantageous to CORAID customers who need to leverage the raw speed and throughput of the Ethernet based arrays. Plus, there is no need to layer in multi-path software as CORAID's HBA based AOE (ATA Over Ethernet) protocol handles all pathing and availability requirements. The storage array supports SATA, SAS and SSD devices and is compact as it fits in a 2U shelf. It's clear this storage platform is purpose-built for those who have a need for speed.

One of CORAID's customers, Tableau Publishing, has deployed CORAID EtherDrive arrays in order to provide its global, web-based, data visualization capability to thousands of users all over the world. Part of CORAID's attractiveness is its ability to quickly deploy Ethernet SAN storage without having to spend days to re-architect the storage connectivity infrastructure, as is typical with many Fibre Channel SAN environments. The SRX go-to-market is 100 percent via CORAID channel partners, and customers/users will have a variety of supplier and support choices.

I had the opportunity to spend some time speaking with CORAID's CEO, Kevin Brown (formerly of Decru and then NETAP after acquisition). He's excited about the newly released storage and HBAs. Also - and rightly so - he is extremely excited about the future for his Ethernet-based products as the speed of Ethernet continues to increase to 40Gbs per second and on to 100Gbs per second. 

Brown said that "support for Ethernet-based storage, which looks like a SCSI disk to the host server, has been in the Linux kernel since 2005" and "as Ethernet speed increases we will be in position to provide even greater performance and functionality in our storage arrays." We also talked about the array's support for mirroring and virtualization of the LUNs on the back-end of the architecture, and that snapshot copy will be forth coming. It was good to hear that CORAID truly did develop a purpose-built storage platform and not try to boil the ocean with numerous array software offerings. All of that can come in the future as higher speed Ethernet rolls out, and the SRX is deployed in other than high-speed oriented application environments.

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