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Storage Companies Unify to Scale-Out Big Data

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
James Alan Miller

James Alan Miller is Managing Editor of Tom's IT Pro. He is a veteran technology journalist with over seventeen years of experience creating and developing magazine and online content. Founding editor of numerous business and enterprise computing sites at the network, James headed up the After Hours section at PC Magazine, as well as hardware and software sections of various Windows publications.

Storage management company Caringo and storage area network (SAN) provider Coraid are partnering on what the companies bill as unified storage infrastructure.

The point of the joint solution is to help IT pros get a better handle on the unruly growth of unstructured data in the enterprise.

This collaboration incorporates Coraid's EtherDrive storage arrays and the Craingo's CAStor object storage management platform. Combined, these products enable enterprises to scale-out and manage shared block and object storage pools.

Here’s the block/object storage short course:

Block storage is the underlying interface for all storage. You can run multiple types of file systems and applications on top of block storage.  Object storage, which brings intelligence to disk drives, has no file system and is designed for handling massive numbers of objects. So, instead of traversing file folders and trees, object storage assigns a unique file ID to every object in a flat address space, akin to a URL, and then makes the objects available across distributed networks for massive and unlimited scalability and flexibility. 

So, in effect, Craingo-enabled object-orientated storage management technology for Cloud computing and big data repositories, among other applications, is now being bundled with Coraid’s EtherDrive arrays. Because Craingo integrates the ATA over Ethernet (AoE) open standard for building out SANs through standards-based and low cost technologies, the bundled solution provides enterprises with the ability to share and access block storage repositories located in Coraid-based SANs.      

"This deal brings together scale-out object data management software from Caringo with low-cost scale-out backend from Coraid," said Andrew Reichman, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, to Tom's IT Pro. "Caringo normally layers over basic X86 servers, but this combo would make it easier for users to get easy scalability and backend management that is built into the Coraid technology."

By partnering up, the two companies leverage each other’s storage expertise, he added.  Coraid, which has a reputation for low-cost products that are easy to manage, has its own disk management software and console. But this deal, thanks to Caringo's storage management integration, "represents something that's bit more polished and scalable," Reichman explained.

While it has the potential to be a good partnership, Reichman said you could argue there may be a downside, in that it increases the overall price of Coraid hardware. He noted this is a worthwhile trade off,  however—particularly from an IT pro's perspective—as Coraid’s hardware with Caringo’s storage management software tight integration requires less hands-on management.

Caringo and Coraid fit well together, much better than if either one went with a more entrenched storage software management or hardware vendor, Reichman added. It is also more cost-effective than buying Caringo and Coraid products separately or through a third-party like Dell.

"While all of us at Caringo have long said that object-based storage is ideal for unstructured data, the use of block storage for structured data remains a necessity," said Mark Goros, CEO of Caringo, to Tom's IT Pro.  "By pairing our CAStor software with Coraid's EtherDrive storage arrays, we are able to join both flavors of storage in a unified solution to empower customers with the ability to utilize the best storage method for their particular data needs while further offering unparalleled scalability, simplicity and price/performance ratio."

Craingo and Coraid said their joint effort is more economical, flexible, scalable and automated compared to more complex Fibre Channel and iSCSI-based products. It is capable of handling petabytes of data and is supposed to be as simple to implement and manage as direct-attached storage, which, according to the companies, should be music to the ears of IT professionals.

"Increasingly, IT pros are struggling to adapt their legacy storage to handle massive data growth. The Caringo-Coraid stack provides an incredibly scalable solution for handling millions or billions of data objects in Cloud, video, and big data environments," added Coraid CEO Kevin Brown to Tom's IT Pro.  "Built from the ground up to deliver scale-out performance and economics, and leveraging open-source technologies such as AoE, Caringo and Coraid are a perfect match for big storage."