Start-up redefines NAS architecture


Just weeks after BlueArc introduced a new network-attached storage (NAS) architecture promising wire-speed throughput and enormous capacities, Northbrook, IL-based start-up Ikadega announced a similar hardware-based technology. (For more information on BlueArc, see InfoStor, March 2001, p. 14.)

Ikadega is aiming at the Internet and content delivery markets with a technology that combines NAS and storage area network (SAN) architectures.

Company officials claim that general-purpose processors cannot keep up with storage demands. "General-purpose processors have run out of steam. We created a single purpose device to move data-both block data and files," explains Darryl Moskowitz, Ikadega's co-founder and executive vice president.

The company's storage server is based on the DirectPath architecture, a data transform platform using field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Ikadega can update software and send it directly into the FPGAs without frequent hardware upgrades. DirectPath can transfer data over a variety of interfaces, including Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel.

The first version of DirectPath will be an 8U rack-mount appliance with a capacity of more than 1.5TB and up to 4Gbps throughput. The device includes 20 expansion slots and can be linked with other DirectPath servers to increase capacity.

"The architecture is not a bottleneck," says Moskowitz, who argues that traditional architectures have a bottleneck in the bridge enabling communication between the memory and other devices.

The DirectPath server appliance architecture is based on a custom silicon-based switched fabric that allows many-to-many connections between storage devices and external interfaces.
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Initial shipments are expected in the fall. The company also plans to license its architecture to major OEMs and various niche market vendors.

Unlike BlueArc, which announced its intention to compete head-to-head with EMC and Network Appliance in the NAS market, Ikadega has a different strategy. "We don't really see ourselves as challenging EMC and Network Appliance at the data-center level," says Howard Weinzimmer, executive vice president and chief sales officer for Ikadega. The company plans to deliver its architecture as a content delivery appliance that offers data-center performance to the edges of the Internet at a fraction of the cost of alternative solutions, explains Weinzimmer.

Ikadega is initially targeting Internet content storage and delivery as well as the hospitality and residential video-on-demand markets. The company has received about $15 million in funding for further technology development.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2001