iSCSI vendor expands portfolio

LeftHand Networks is expanding its storage area network (SAN) portfolio with a product supporting enterprise-class data management.

The Colorado-based company, which distributes IP-based SAN products, has certified its Open iSCSI SAN technology to run on the IBM System x3650 server.

The IBM Server x3650, which uses SAS drive technology and Intel Dual Core processors, virtualizes all system resources. LeftHand said the product is usable for server environments and databases, with the x3650 as a potential storage module within a clustered SAN.

The x3650 will be used in tandem with LeftHand’s SAN/iQ software platform, which uses an open architecture that runs on x86 server hardware.

One analyst said he thinks LeftHand’s iSCSI data storage products will allow companies to continue to ease into networked storage architecture.

“These products address critical issues for customers — data availability within an easy-to-manage and easy-to-deploy infrastructure,” says Vasu Daggupaty, research analyst at IDC Canada.

One LeftHand representative says iSCSI is giving enterprise clients flexibility to work with cheaper data storage methods.

“Most companies don’t have experience with iSCSI. The Open iSCSI SAN can run on multiple platforms and cluster for high performance and high availability,” says John Fanelli, vice-president of marketing for LeftHand Networks.

Fanelli also says the SAN/iQ software is priced at a point suitable for small and medium-sized enterprise clients.

The new LeftHand products have been installed by a few clients. One LeftHand client representative says deploying the product was easy and had some advantages over traditional Fibre Channel data storage.

“People need to start waking up to the fact that companies don’t need staff to put this product (Fibre Channel) in. To me, that’s huge,” says Randy Ferber, project manager of infrastructure projects for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

“If I were bringing in a Fibre Channel, iSCSI can perform near as fast and in some cases just as fast as a Fibre Channel. It all depends on the infrastructure you have,” Ferber says.

Daggupaty thinks that while iSCSI is an attractive alternative to the more expensive Fibre Channel data storage option, it’s still unlikely that LeftHand’s recent moves will sway enterprise clients towards the option en masse.

“Those companies that have already made a significant investment in Fibre Channel are going to continue to maintain that infrastructure,” Daggupaty says.

“The biggest opportunity for iSCSI to make inroads is with companies that are looking to transition their Direct Attached Storage (DAS) to a networked architecture. The iSCSI story is a lot easier to explain to companies looking to make the switch as Ethernet technology is well established throughout the network, so storage over Ethernet is a natural extension.”

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