Zetera expands SoIP into business market

By Ann Silverthorn

—At the CES show in Las Vegas this week, Zetera announced its Storage over IP (SoIP) Z-SAN technology's formal entrance into the business network storage space via a reseller deal with Bell Micro. Bell Micro is expected to launch a new line of desktop and rack-mount products based on Zetera technology under its Hammer Storage brand within the next two months.

In September, when Zetera announced that NetGear would resell Storage Central— its consumer and SOHO product—it promised that Bell Micro and StorCase would introduce similar products for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in November 2005. The Bell Micro deal is coming out a few months later than predicted. Zetera representatives would not comment on progress with StorCase, but said that further announcements would be forthcoming.

The Bell Micro Hammer products based on Zetera's SoIP technology will include a four-bay NAS appliance and a 1U rack-mount product that will compete with entry-level iSCSI and Fibre Channel SANs. Initial capacity is 2TB, with a 24TB version due later this year.

Zetera's SoIP virtualizes storage at the IP layer and creates a direct connection between the host and disk enclosure by leveraging network switch technology without the use of controllers or host bus adapters (HBAs). Zetera's technology uses the standard IP transport and does not rely on iSCSI or Fibre Channel protocols. Z-SAN disaggregates physical drives into multiple virtual partitions.

Although Zetera bills Z-SAN as SoIP, Dave Reinsel, program director of storage research at International Data Corp., states in a white paper that "Zetera's approach isn't 'storage over IP' as discussed by many companies in the storage industry. These solutions, as typified by iSCSI, retain the attributes of legacy storage protocols. For instance, iSCSI builds a tunnel inside IP and moves the entire SCSI protocol. Both end devices are still bound by the functionality inherent in SCSI. In contrast, rather than using IP as an extension cord between clients and storage devices, Zetera uses IP as the storage paradigm itself."

Introducing its technology to the consumer and SMB market first was a smart move, claims Reinsel, since it would encounter little conflict with vendors of enterprise storage. "Once the technology is deployed and proven in these markets, it can be positioned within established high-end storage array markets," according to Reinsel's report.

This article was originally published on January 06, 2006