LeftHand makes move on enterprise space

LeftHand Networks wants to be known for more than just supporting iSCSI in the SMB space. It wants network managers at large enterprises to take notice of the company, too.

The Boulder, Colo.-based distributor of IP-based SAN products recently unveiled two big moves into the enterprise space: support for 10Gbps Ethernet SANs and expansion of its Open iSCSI SAN portfolio for the HP ProLiant DL320s server.

LeftHand said the product launches last month at the Toronto Storage Networking Show will be a big step forward for iSCSI storage, given a majority of large enterprises still use Fibre Channel as their main data storage technology.

One LeftHand representative said the 10Gbps Ethernet product launch is being done significantly ahead of the market curve.

“We’re early, if not first to market, with the 10Gbps Ethernet product,” said David Bangs, vice-president of sales for LeftHand. “We’re leveraging these industry-standard open platforms with companies like HP. That’s put us 18 months ahead of other proprietary, legacy architecture SAN vendors. Some of our competitors have made it that 10Gbps Ethernet is on their roadmap, but it’s really not going to be generally available for 18 months,” he said.

LeftHand said the 10Gbps Ethernet product will have disaster-recovery support for data and will alleviate I/O bottlenecks. LeftHand also there would be expanded support for the HP ProLiant DL320s server, which would use the company’s SAN/iQ storage platform. In an effort to tempt large enterprises, LeftHand also indicated that reference SAN configurations would range from enterprise-class 100 terabytes SAS SANs to entry-level six terabytes SATA SANs.

Bangs said LeftHand made a conscious decision several years ago to stop developing hardware and to leave it to third-party vendors like HP and IBM.

“HP and IBM were bringing to market platforms that could deliver a very compelling performance, reliability and cost equation and the 320s is the best example of that today,” Bangs said.

“Without sounding too grandiose, it does SAN/iQ justice. It has the kind of horsepower that SAN/iQ has been waiting for from the open community, so we can build the enterprise-class SANs that we always knew SAN/iQ could power,” he said.

One analyst said the announcements by LeftHand are about what he calls bragging rights for being first on the market.

“I think it’s a good investment. Still, at this stage, a lot of it is marketing rather than actual demand. LeftHand is one of those IP SAN vendors that has championed the iSCSI-based SANs. The problem is that message hasn’t always resonated,” said John Sloan, senior research analyst at the Info-Tech Research Group. “Even though an iSCSI SAN would be good, Fibre Channel has been around longer. It’s perceived as more mature and faster. For LeftHand to do this, it’s not as if they’re meeting a huge demand for 10Gbps Ethernet. In reality, not every enterprise needs the high-end solution,” he said.

Sloan also said the announcement supporting the HP ProLiant DL320 server alongside the 10Gbps Ethernet product is about LeftHand being in a good position to convince enterprise customers to switch to iSCSI.

“With the HP ProLiant, you can run that SAN/iQ software and it gives LeftHand cachet. For iSCSI to be taken more seriously, they’re really trying to push up the chain a bit more and say this is more of a large enterprise solution,” he said.

“The ProLiant, that’s a pretty solid platform to run on. LeftHand is saying, ‘Please take us seriously, we’re running on HP and 10Gbps Ethernet.’” 077599

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