The problem with trying to compete around a core competency in the data center is that everybody pretty much uses a variant of the same basic technologies. So while some companies are better than others in terms of the number of people they need to manage the overall data center environment, the technologies themselves are not providing a substantial competitive advantage.
However, the folks at Coraid, a provider of Ethernet-based storage area networks, and Arista Networks, which provides data center switching software that runs on top of standard Intel-class processors rather than more expensive custom processors typically found in switches developed by incumbent network infrastructure vendors, want to change the equation. The two companies have announced that they are working together to bring their respective approaches to new core data center technologies to market.
According to Carl Wright, executive vice president of worldwide sales for Coraid, both companies find common cause with customers looking for emerging technologies that will dramatically lower their cost of data center operations. Right now, most of that interest comes from companies investing in businesses that are dependent on scale, such as cloud computing service providers or online retailers. But the two companies plan to collaborate to make it easier for traditional enterprise companies to digest complementary technologies that will substantially change the cost structure inside the data center.
In the case of Coraid, that means SAN systems that connect to raw Ethernet in order to gain a 5x to 8x improvement in price/performance over existing SAN architectures. In the case of Arista Networks, Doug Gourlay, vice president of marketing, says it means a software-centric approach to 10GB Ethernet switching based on an Extensible Operating System (EOS) that dramatically cuts the cost of switching.
For all the talk of saving money on IT operations, nothing major is going to happen on this front until new technologies emerge to disturb the status quo. The good news is that we're starting to see some signs of that much-needed disruption.