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By | Chris Mellor 1st March 2011 10:26

Could Coraid be readying for takeoff?

Stirrings under the surface ...

Comment Coraid is that niche ATA over Ethernet (AOE) vendor that's always about to break out of its reservation but never has. That could be about to change if things we're hearing from resellers are true.

We have heard about a European financial institution that compared a Coraid storage array against a Fibre Channel SAN and found the much cheaper Coraid was faster than the supposedly speedy SAN. A US entertainment conglomerate tested a Coraid set up against an Isilon clustered filer for media processing work and Coraid cruised past the cluster at a third of the price: food for thought.

We're told by an enthused reseller that AOE is two to four times faster than iSCSI; the AOE protocol is that lightweight and not restricted to using one port. AOE has been shown to run on Dell equipment and, in theory, system vendors like Dell "could" support it.

Here's another thought: Coraid has been used as a protocol for access to hard drive disk storage. Suppose it were used to access solid state drive (SSD) storage?

A Coraid reseller is enthused about WhipTail and its use of multi-level cell flash and serialising of random I/O to preserve MLC life and deliver up to 300,000 IOPS from a 2U rack box. People in the Coraid channel tell us that AOE running across 10GbitE matches 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel (FC) easily and can match some vendor's 8Gbit/S FC as well.

Imagine, they say, if a Whiptail SSD array system was front-ended by AOE? That would give us fast, lightweight AOE protocol access to very fast flash storage making things like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure-type applications possible.

We're asked to think about a 2U, flash-based AOE storage set-up that could support 4,000 desktops with 50TB of virtualised application and file storage for less than £200,000. This is a reseller speaking and guys like this can be optimistic to a fault. They can also be right.

We are seeing a Coraid blip on our radar screen. It could be just chatter, noise, a random blip. On the other hand it could be real. Park Coraid in your "watch this space" corner; it could be happening. ®

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