Shaking Up the Storage Oligarchy

Michael Vizard

Coraid, a provider of storage systems that connect to servers over raw Ethernet, has been trying to shake the stranglehold that six vendors – EMC, NetApp, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and Dell, have had on storage systems in the data center for several decades.

Today Coraid extended that campaign with the launch of EtherCloud, storage automation software that automates the management of storage management via programmable REST APIs that the company describes as one of the first instances of software-defined storage via the cloud. That offering is based on technology that Coraid recently gained via its acquisition of Yunteq. In addition, the company is adding EtherFlash Cache software for caching application data using flash drives.

According to Coraid CEO Kevin Brown, the major storage vendors have been relying on protocols such as Fibre Channel and SCSI that have limited performance scalability to force customers to invest regularly in expensive storage upgrades. In contrast, Coraid EtherDrive systems are based on a scale-out architecture that relies on raw Ethernet versus traditional storage protocols to deliver I/O performance that is orders of magnitude faster, says Brown.

By making the management software for its systems available via the cloud, Brown says Coraid is looking to remove a potential barrier of adoption for IT organizations at a time when many IT organizations are reevaluating their storage options because of the rise of cloud computing and Flash memory.

Because of virtualization and the emergence of Big Data, it’s clear that existing storage systems are under increasing pressure when it comes to performance. To what degree IT organizations decide to rely on Flash memory versus disk-based storage remains to seen. But Coraid is betting that as IT organizations come to understand that they’ve reached an inflection point in terms of their storage requirements, chances are many of them are also no longer going to want to have to deploy additional IT infrastructure and acquire expensive software licenses to manage storage systems that can just as easily be managed via the cloud.

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