Redefining Storage Economics – Q&A with CORAID CEO Kevin Brown and CTO/Founder Brantley Coile
This week, CORAID announced a $10 million venture investment, a 400 Terabyte deployment at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and an expanded executive and advisory team. http://www.coraid.com/
Join us for a Q&A with new CEO Kevin Brown and CTO/founder Brantley Coile:
Q: Congratulations on the funding and new additions to the team. Why are investors and industry players interested in the storage sector, which has been dominated by large vendors for some time?
Kevin: Virtualization and cloud computing, along with recent economic trends, have created an inflection point in the storage industry. Virtualization adoption has created a whole new generation of SAN buyers that have zero affinity with Fibre Channel, iSCSI, or the dominant vendors. If you want to use VMware VMotion™ and other similar features, you need a high-performance SAN. Storage costs have increased from 15% to 50% of many IT projects, and prices have stayed high. A lot of customers are frustrated and looking for a new approach.
Q: Why have the large storage vendors failed to adapt?
Brantley: Legacy SANs are built on mainframe-era protocols and architectures, which arose when you were connecting a couple of large servers or mainframes to a couple of large storage frames. FICON became Fibre Channel, which inspired iSCSI. The large vendors have a huge technology base and a business model that’s built around preserving that status quo. Unfortunately, the genetic profile of these solutions is poorly adapted to the modern virtual or cloud datacenter.
Q: What are some of the technical challenges for storage in these environments?
Brantley: There are lots of issues. For example, if you’ve replaced your large server with a rack full of x86 servers, you now need a huge number of expensive HBAs, cables, and Fibre Channel switch ports. Instead of predictable static application workloads, virtual environments are constantly moving workloads around, creating bottlenecks at the network layer and tremendous head contention on the drive level. SANs weren’t designed for constant change and flexibility, but that’s exactly what virtualization and cloud architectures are about. If you have 50 servers with 30 VMs each, and want to use iSCSI to get away from Fibre Channel, you need 1500 TCP/IP connections to talk to a storage array 10 feet away! That’s a crushing amount of overhead.
Q: Where does CORAID fit into this?
Kevin: Brantley invented the Cisco PIX firewall and LocalDirector, pioneered the use of stateful packet inspection, and holds one of the fundamental patents on network address translation (NAT). He specializes in disruptive inventions. Starting in the Linux community around 2005, Brantley and his team quietly introduced a radical new idea for storage networking: an Ethernet SAN called EtherDrive® that eliminates legacy-era SAN complexity, delivers massive throughput between servers and drives, and enables customers to scale out using commodity building block arrays. It’s designed from the ground up for virtualization and simplicity, and we now have over 1100 customers. Just as Dell and Compaq transformed the server market, EtherDrive is poised to do the same in the storage market. We’re here to reinvent storage economics.