Last week I met Kevin Brown (CEO) along with some other CORAID‘s executives. Kevin had already impressed me when we had a telephone conversation some time ago, our meeting even boosted my consideration for him.

Firm’s philosophy

You can read about their products a little bit below, now I’d like dwell upon CORAID’s business approach. CORAID reminds me of small family companies where human ties, based on trust among the work group members (and external partners), are more important than the mere business quarter goal. The introduction by Audrey Cloie (chairman) made it clear, right from the beginning of our meeting, this company is not an usual one. They managed to gather sound company funding (35M$ from venture capitalists) as well as a cohesive team of experienced people. Really one of the company you’d like to work for, considering the quality of life in their workplaces.

Commodity storage

In a previous post I already wrote about their products and a little about how they work, but the presentation made everything much clearer. Their product, inherently (being based on commodity hardware) aims to customers totally committed to low TCA storage. Thus their most prominent customers can be found in HPC world, video surveillance, education, wherever you need to size your storage by hundreds of TB or even petabytes.
One of their most recent success cases relates to a government issue (american DOD) where they won hands down proposing a 2 PB storage solution at 1 M$, against a competitor offer of 1 PB priced 11 M$!Besides the trivial huge TCA savings, their solution is worth recording for the uber-short installation timings (just 1 day, if I understood correctly) and management needs: just 1 technician instead of the 6 needed by the customer’s previously owned storage (a really impressive result, aint’it?).

On my point of view, this product cannot fit SMB (a properly redundant solution would need 2 etherdrive and 2 virtual appliances, and this would soar the price beyond acceptable limits) but if your storage size needs are above a certain threshold, may become a viable solution and, if I did not misunderstood, the greater the storage size, the cheaper (comparatively) will be the solution.

Software shortcomings

As regards software, there are some shortcomings, there’s not an integration tool aimed ad any application yet, i.e. VMware, but I’ve been reassured that before WMworld (that will be held on the end of August, and they will be there with an installation), they will disclose and release many interesting features!! But by now, interfaces with hosts and applications are not the only one missing software features, there’s also no trace of any software feature you can find on other latest generation arrays (deduplication, automated tiering), this potentially hinders the efficiency of the solution. I’ve been reassured on this side too, but no time line have been made clear. For sure, as I already mentioned, 2PBytes with a 1M$ pricetag win hands down against 1PBytes priced 11M$, some deficiencies affecting TCO can be surely tollerated.

Figures and future

CORAID’s “total commodity” approach seems to be a truly rewarding one.
Even though CORAID is a privately held company and is not publishing their annual turnover, they are publishing an impressive list of success cases and they are not trying to hide their proud for their results. Furthermore, even if their market force is not fine-tuned yet, their worldwide partner recruiting programme has already enrolled several reseller parters all
over Europe. Their choice is the same many other vendors made about sales organization, opting for a 100% channel sales force.

Bottom line

Coraid is a real company, their product and related echosystem can grow and mature, but it is an option worth considering even at present, maybe not for a vertical solution in an SMB/SME, but surely when in need of huge storage size and impressive performances.
Future storage solutions will more and more rely on commodity hardware, as Brentley Cloie (CORAID’s CTO) pointed out: “hardware is the bottle, software is the wine”, and I surely can’t say he’s wrong.