Over the years StorageMojo has seen several architectures that just seemed smart, but whose market potential was blighted by management and funding issues. Violin Memory was one. Coraid was another.

In both cases a new CEO – at Coraid, Kevin Brown – has made a world of difference. New funding, new customers, more focus. All good.

What does Coraid do?
Storage, of course. Inexpensive block-based, scale-out, network storage. Global namespace.

Define inexpensive
How does $0.40/GB sound?

Let’s start at the server. The HBAs are Intel NICs that are re-programmed to present themselves as SCSI controllers. The server sees a SCSI controller, but it’s Ethernet out the other side.

Running over the network is a connectionless datagram protocol that accesses the storage on commodity x86 servers. The protocol is fast and lightweight, being based on the simple and well-understood ATA command set.

There’s a router for connecting sites, but most users use it in a single site.

People who want a lot of inexpensive block storage. Average order is ≈175 TB. Average sales cycle is 30 days.

Coraid is a horizontal play, but they get interest from the usual big data suspects: media and entertainment; science; service providers; private clouds.

The StorageMojo take
Coraid takes the commodity game seriously: commodity servers; commodity HBAs; commodity open-source protocol; commodity network; and commodity SCSI drivers. Not much custom engineering required.

It’s prices reflect that. There’s a huge unmet need for fast, cheap storage that Coraid is tapping. Their biggest problem is that they do things differently than everyone else, and it takes people a while to decide to work with those differences.

Which is a shame. The more competition for the block storage dollar the better it is for all consumers.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I saw Coraid as part of a Tech Field Day program, where they, among other vendors, helped pay for transportation, food and lodging.