Coho Data looks to reinvent storage

A startup's new view on enterprise storage leverages SDN, which should enable customers to scale out easily while maintaining high performance

Coho Data is a startup that's been operating largely under the radar, working on a new way of thinking about enterprise storage. Today the company is announcing general availability of its new storage framework, Coho Datastream.

What makes Coho's approach different? Unlike other storage plays, it makes use of software-defined networking (SDN) in its core solution. In fact, the company's initial products ship with a 52-port 10G OpenFlow switch that runs software tied into the actual storage hardware. In this way, Coho is actually leveraging SDN to deliver storage services -- which should enable customers to scale out easily while maintaining high performance.

The hardware itself is based on commodity servers and uses PCIe flash storage alongside traditional disk. Each node in the solution can handle internal storage tiering between flash and disk, and uses the OpenFlow switch to handle load balancing and other tasks. This allows the storage to be considered as a whole, rather than individual nodes. Adding new storage is as easy as adding more arrays. Initial hardware platforms will come as dual-node arrays in a 2U chassis, with two 10G ports per node, six 3TB disks, and Intel 910 PCIe SSDs.

At first, Coho DataStream will deliver NFS services alone. There are no iSCSI, FCoE, or even CIFS protocols available at launch, as the initial focus is on virtualization infrastructures, where NFS is a major player. Behind the NFS presentation layer is an object-based storage layout that can be configured with definable replication parameters.

SDN and OpenFlow, while still at an early phase, have taken the networking world by storm. Coho is one of the first to take the core SDN concept and extend it to storage networking.

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