Yet another networked storage format is on the up. This time it's the turn of ATA-over-Ethernet, or AoE, an IEEE spec which we briefed readers on a few months back and has now made it into a piece of hardware that's sized for the large enterprise - an 11TB array.

If I understand it rightly, then although it operates below the TCP level you could argue that AoE is to Parallel-ATA what iSCSI is to Parallel SCSI. It's block-based access to ATA, and while it's not routable, it's relatively cheap and simple.

Perhaps it should really be called iATA - except that's already the International Air Transport Association. Oh, and the International Amateur Theatre Association, just in case the airline folk think I'm taking their name in vain.

Either way, it's a protocol that deserves to be taken seriously - and as it gets taken seriously, it's going to start appearing on your network radar, demanding yet more of the available bandwidth. Get yourselves ready...

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