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Coraid EtherDrive array targets cloud storage

Coraid offers largest EtherDrive storage system, based on ATA over Ethernet (AoE) protocol; adds REST capabilities for cloud storage implementation options.

Coraid Inc. is taking its EtherDrive product line to the cloud. The vendor today launched the largest version of its enterprise SRX line, the EtherDrive SRX4200, and released a RESTful storage management interface enabling automation and scripting to make EtherDrive systems appropriate for cloud storage.

Coraid's EtherDrive products are based on a lightweight ATA over Ethernet (AoE) protocol and standard Ethernet switches to handle block storage. The vendor claims its systems perform better than iSCSI storage at a lower price.

The SRX4200 supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) and has a 50% increase in density per unit, per rack compared to Coraid's previous SRX series. The SRX4200 holds 36 drives -- 24 drives in the front and 12 in the back -- within a 4U appliance and customers can match SATA, SAS and solid-state drives (SSDs). Maximum capacity is 72 TB.

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"It is a scale-out architecture," said Kevin Brown, Coraid's CEO. "You grow as you go by just adding a new array and taking advantage of the capacity. You can mix and match drives based on your workload. This is being used in virtualized environments, cloud storage, research, video and network surveillance."

Brown said Coraid also made it management command lines available via Representational State Transfer (REST), which enables management of distributed systems using simple HTTP, XML or application-based commands. REST helps automate storage provisioning and management tasks.

"People are saying, 'We want more self-service, automated platforms, so there are no humans in the loop,'" Brown said. The old way of going through five layers of storage managers does not make sense anymore. Instead of having a human, you can use the REST architecture and automate the commands."

The EtherDrive SRX 4200 appliance is priced at less than $600 per TB, Brown said.

Tony Palmer, senior engineer and analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) Lab, said Coraid's value is that it provides a storage system that is easy to manage at a low cost.

"With a couple of commands, we were able to configure the system and present storage out onto the system using AoE protocol to get the storage out on the Ethernet," said Palmer, who tested the Coraid EtherDrive platform for a lab report. "Once that was done, we were able to carve out the disks as if they were locally attached. It was incredibly simple to set up and use. For streaming media, it was ridiculously fast."

Coraid has spent the last few months aggressively upgrading its product line and building up a company that has done little marketing over the years. "The founder was more interested in the technology and engineering aspect, and the customers were not the most important thing," Palmer said. "Now, they're building out the rest of the business. I think the products have the potential to be disruptive from a price-point perspective. They need to get the message out from the sales and support side. They have a real opportunity here."

Despite the lack of marketing, Coraid claims it has approximately 1,100 customers. Coraid's Brown said he has doubled the number of employees (to 32) since joining the company last December and securing a $10 million funding round.

"I looked at 130 companies in the valley and this one blew me away," said Brown, who previously worked at NetApp and storage security device startup Decru. "Its technology had grown up in stealth mode in the Linux market. They had one guy answering the phone and you were lucky to get him."


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