Upstart Could Shake up Networked Storage

ATA over Ethernet offers inexpensive possibility for large volume storage like surveillance video


HP, which sells both servers and storage systems, isn't a fan of ATA over Ethernet. In effect, it functions more as a new method for directly attaching storage to a server, said Dwight Barron, chief technologist for HP BladeSystem. Customers wanting that technology are likely to favor new storage systems that pack several Serial ATA (SATA) or Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives into a chassis, he said.

"Had SAS and SATA had not stepped up to the role they have, (ATA over Ethernet) may have had some play for some audience, but we're betting SAS and SATA will fulfill that need," Barron said.

And using Ethernet but not higher-level TCP/IP network control technology is a serious limitation, Barron added. "What are you really going to do with a protocol over Ethernet that's not routable?" And not using TCP means that there's no network traffic congestion management, he added.

Another hurdle for ATA over Ethernet is formal standardization by several companies. "It's not an industry standard and appears not to be on the road map for any industry standards. That's the obstacle to broad adoption," said Dave Dale, NetApp's industry evangelist and chairman of the Storage Networking Industry Association's IP Storage Forum.

Standardization will happen later, though. "We will work with standards bodies as we grow the company and have the resources to spend in that area," Kemp said.

Kemp is convinced that despite the industry skeptics, high prices for the alternatives will keep customers coming. "They're pretty shocked by the cost of Fibre Channel and iSCSI. They discover ATA over Ethernet, and it's a breath of fresh air," he said.