Coho Data, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup, emerged from stealth with a new software-defined storage platform that blends commodity hardware, Intel PCIe flash cards and Amazon EC2-inspired cloud technology. The result, according to the company, is a storage architecture that beats all-flash arrays with a 2x price-performance advantage while delivering the cost benefits of public cloud storage.

Calling storage the “elephant in your datacenter,” Coho Data CTO Andy Warfield argued in a blog post that it is “the biggest source of cost, administrative headache, and complexity.” His team, with some experience in cloud computing at scale, set out to “decouple the value and functionality of enterprise storage from the physical hardware that is used to build it.”

“As the team that wrote the Xen hypervisor (which powers Amazon’s EC2), we have a deep familiarity with computing efficiently at scale, and getting great value out of commodity hardware,” stated Warfield.

That experience led to the newly-launched Coho DataStream product line, which consists of a storage stack that is anchored by the company’s DataStream 1000 MicroArray. A 2U commodity server module, called the DataStream Chassis, houses two MicroArrays. Each MicroArray, in turn, bypasses controller bottlenecks with a “balanced ratio of CPU, network, PCI-e Flash and Hard Drives” to deliver consistently quick and responsive application performance, according to the company. Two 10GbE ports provide network connectivity.

Operating under an 80/20 read/write workload (4K blocks), a Coho MicroArray can reach 90,000 IOPS, allowing each 2U DataStream Chassis to deliver 180,000 IOPS. On the software front, MicroArrays are powered by the company’s Data Hypervisor, which creates a bare-metal object store. Coho Data’s extensible Data Profiles provides applications direct, multi-protocol and multi-tenant access to data stored on the platform.

Linking the MicroArrays is the DataStream10GbE switch. The OpenFlow-enabled networking hardware’s software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities enable low-latency operations along with “key storage system logic including data placement, routing, load balancing and a distributed protocol service to be delivered from the network itself,” explained Coho Data on its website.

“By redesigning the storage stack itself, we have taken the best ideas from public cloud-based architectures and improved them for demanding on-premise datacenters,” said Coho Data CEO Ramana Jonnala, in company remarks. He added that his company’s DataStream platform leverages “sophisticated software to take advantage of flash in such a way that it can be used for all applications, not just the top tier ones.”

“Whether data is in the public or private cloud, it should be on a storage architecture that can meet the scalability and performance today’s cloud generation companies need, at the pricing they demand,” asserted Jonnala. That pricing starts at $2.50 per GB for a 40 TB Coho DataStream chassis, before deduplication and compression.

The company claims that a 190 TB DataStream System occupies 11U worth of rack space, delivers 900,000 IOPS and sells for $430,000. By comparison, a comparable 190 TB storage system takes up 50U, tops out at 250,000 IOPS and costs $1.5 million.

Coho DataStream is expected to officially ship later this year.

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