Company unveils new type of storage attack

LeftHand Networks Inc. added to the ever-growing storage alphabet soup with the release of its first NUS (Network Unified Storage) product that combines many of the qualities found in DAS, SAN and NAS servers.

Users have traditionally turned to DAS (direct attached storage) and SAN (storage area networks) to transfer block-level data that typically uses more precise parameters to direct where and how data should be stored. Conversely, users tend to use NAS (networked attached storage) servers to direct file-level data in typical client/server architectures. LeftHand will support both block and file protocols in its new NSM 100 product that it places in the NUS (network unified storage) market.

LeftHand charges competitors with cobbling together combination SAN and NAS products by, for example, coupling a Fibre Channel card with a NAS server, said Dave DuPont, vice-president of marketing and business development. By contrast, LeftHand attaches its devices to Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet networks and sends either block or file data via its AEBS (advanced Ethernet block storage) protocol.

By supporting both SAN and NAS protocols, LeftHand gives users more freedom with each storage device and can perhaps help an administrator simplify a data centre. Users can also manage all of the LeftHand products centrally, seeing large numbers of the devices as one server visible over the network, LeftHand said.

The NSM 100 is 1U (1.75 inches or 4.375 centimetres) high and comes with an 866MHz Pentium III processor. Users can choose to have up to four hot-swappable IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) disks with total capacity close to 500GB. A 160GB system starts at US$14,995, while a 480GB system starts at US$34,995, DuPont said. The company will start shipping the NSM 100 in December.

Users can attach the NSM 100s in parallel on an existing network and manage the products in clusters or in one view.

Storage giants such as IBM Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. are also working to combine the benefits of different storage techniques. The companies are rolling out converged SAN and NAS products and are developing servers using new protocols such as iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) that accomplish both SAN and NAS tasks.

LeftHand, based in Boulder, Colo., can be reached at