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Storage is a cool topic, but in most cases we just see software product on commodity hardware, that it’s fine: you push all the tecnology in the software layer (using the SDS approach), but sometimes it’s nice think about at some low level improvement or innovation.

This is the case of outpace.IO, a technology manufacturing company that want to continue customer success with AoE (ATA over Ethernet) technology- The company is based in the United States with the headquartered in Georgia and a technical and operational office in Paris, France.

During the last IT Press Tour #17 I’ve got the opportunity to learn more about this approach, directly from Sébastien Scuiereb – Co-Founder / Revenue of the company.

The idea of using AoE is to build a next generation of (Ethernet) storage powerful and simple. The idea isn’t new: Coraid has build AoE products some years ago, but the company fails and has start to reborn again with a new name. But the idea remain and the existing customers also. To support them and to finalize the original idea outpace.IO born. It appeared in Feb. 2015 after 2 years of developement (they has stated to develop its own AoE product before Coraid collapsed) with 150 customers coming from previous Coraid installed base.

ATA over Ethernet (AoE) is a network protocol developed by the Brantley Coile Company, designed for simple, high-performance access of block storage devices over Ethernet networks. It is used to build storage area networks (SANs) with low-cost, standard technologies.

AoE is a simple way to move storage out of your servers and onto an Ethernet storage network. With AoE, disk read/write requests are placed directly into Ethernet frames/packets. AoE packets don’t need TCP/IP so they are easy to process, and make storage safer, easier to manage and expand.

Ethernet SAN technology based on ATA over Ethernet (AoE) is a connectionless protocol that connects servers and storage directly across Layer 2 Ethernet.  It does not require TCP/IP like iSCSI or proprietary networks like Fibre Channel. It also does not require user configured multi-path IO (MPIO) software.  Ethernet SAN packets are automatically sent over every available network path between the server and storage (without MPIO configuration).

Basically it can replace other front-end block based storage protocols used in SAN, like FC or iSCSI.


With the simplicity of Layer 2 Ethernet, outpace.IO elevates network performance and improves operational effectiveness in deploying dynamic, large-scale, multi-workload environments. Similar simplicity of SAS DAS solution, but more scalable in the number of nodes.

Note that in outpace.IO product, AoE is also used as a backend bus across the storage.

There are three different outpace.IO series:

  • A series: appliance a 2U o 4U powered by outpace.IO, a linux based (30MB) AoE implementation that delivers high performance, simplicity and reliability. Can only export AoE front-end protocol.
  • F series: an FPGA AoE implementation that delivers high performance in embedded and space constrained environments, ideally suited for the aircraft industry.
  • Z series: appliance a 2U a tuned ZFS appliance that combines an innovative feature-rich file system with scale-out and massively parallel Ethernet SAN technology. Implemented on top of the AoE backend for a unified storage solution. Build in partnership with Oracle. It can export also with NFS or SMB.

The Z series is the most interesting, because it can act as a front-end data service to one ore more A series. Also you can put more Z series in a single high availability cluster (based on RSF-1 HA software). You can have up to 16 Z-Series heads with up to 16 A-series chassis per head for a total of 256 storage units.

Every outpace.IO solution comes with:

  • 24/7 world class and reliable support
  • 3 years hardware next business day replacement for your chassis
  • 3 years hardware next business day replacement for your drives
  • Software licenses & access to the latest updates
  • Access to all software and tools downloads

Will be interesting see if AoE could become a widely used standard and those kind of product become a replacament (in some user cases) to traditional storage.

Disclaimer: Condor Consulting Group has invited me to this even and they will paid for accommodation and travels, but I am not compensated for my time and I’m not obliged to blog. Furthermore, the content is not reviewed, approved or published by any other person than me.