Coraid combines ZFS-based NAS with AoE

By Kevin Komiega

-- Coraid is using the open-source ZFS file system to extend its ATA-over-Ethernet (AoE)-based SAN storage to the world of files with today's debut of its EtherDrive Z-Series NAS appliances.

EtherDrive Z-Series NAS appliances unify the management of file-based data, along with the underlying Ethernet SAN resources, from a single management interface by attaching to Coraid's SRX-Series Ethernet SAN arrays, supporting SATA, SAS, and solid-state disk (SSD) drives, and a "scale- out" architecture.

By using ZFS, the Z-Series NAS appliances offer in-line deduplication, replication, unlimited snapshots, compression, automatic tiering, continuous data protection (CDP), file search, thin provisioning, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) connectivity, with bundles starting at under $1,000 per terabyte.

Coraid's EtherDrive products use the AoE protocol to connect disks to servers using Ethernet. AoE is a block storage protocol that uses Ethernet to transport ATA disk commands, without the overhead associated with the TCP/IP protocol. The result, according to the company, is a massively scalable, high performance Ethernet SAN running on commodity hardware (see "Coraid ships AoE-based SAN arrays").

The EtherDrive Z-Series appliances are available in two configurations, with a range of connectivity options.

The EtherDrive Z2000 features four processor cores, 32GB of RAM, and either 8 x 1Gb Ethernet or 4 x 10GbE connectivity. The EtherDrive Z3000 has eight processor cores, double the memory (48GB), L2 SSD cache, and the same connectivity options as the Z2000.

Coraid has been selling Linux-based NAS systems for the past four years (roughly 12% of the company's 1,100 customers are running the Linux NAS head), but Carl Wright, executive vice president of sales and product management at Coraid, says the Linux offering lacked the breadth of features inherent to ZFS. Combining ZFS with AoE, he says, changes the price-performance paradigm.

"By itself, ZFS is a very robust and feature-rich technology, but if you put it on top of Fibre Channel or iSCSI storage you are still looking at the same economics and performance characteristics of those systems. If you put it on top of EtherDrive technology you change those economics and performance characteristics substantially," says Wright.

Going forward, Coraid expects NAS sales to account for about 40% of its total revenue and is betting on ZFS as the technology that will help them reach that number.

Related articles:
Coraid ships AoE-based SAN arrays
Compellent adds ZFS-based NAS
Nexenta debuts ZFS-based in-line deduplication

This article was originally published on May 19, 2010