iSCSI SAN software company adds second server maker

Organizations using LeftHand Networks’ iSCSI-based storage area network software now have a choice of using IBM servers for their systems as well as Hewlett-Packard.

The company said this week it has added support for IBM x3650 servers to its Linux-based SAN/iQ software, which gives IT administrators the ability to create high-speed storage without building a Fiber Channel backplane usually recommended for SANs.

LeftHand, headquartered in Boulder, Col., has already certified SAN/iQ for HP’s ProLiant DL380 server.

At the same time the company said is working to increase its channel presence here.

A Markham, Ont. IBM and LeftHand partner immediately welcomed the x3650 announcement.

Many data centres have both IBM and HP equipment, said John Prince, chief information officer of Albert White Technologies, so for them this is “great news.”

“It allows you to replicate to another manufacturer (server) without being locked into a storage manufacturer,” he said. “And there’s a lot of customers who have these DL380s or x3650s and who are migrating to blade technology or other types of storage. This brings it all together in a cost-effective way.”

John Fanelli, LeftHand’s vice-president of marketing, noted that one advantage of the company’s approach is the amount of storage that can be stacked up. A single x3560 box, for example, can hold 1.8Tb of data, he said.

“Most of our customers use a three-node cluster because it makes sense. For about US$50,000, you can get a 5.4Tb SAN.”

LeftHand only makes the SAN/iQ software. HP, and now IBM, partners sell the bundled package, effectively an appliance, which is managed through a Windows interface.

While LeftHand also assembles and sells its own server systems, Fanelli said that started before the deals with HP and IBM. He expects direct sales will decline. In the last quarter, he said, more than 50 per cent of licences sold were not on the company’s servers.

In addition to the announcement, LeftHand’s new Canadian chief said also said she’s looking to expand the 20 partners it has here and the company’s visibility.

“Canada has been a neglected market for LeftHand Networks,” said country manager Mira Sharma, who came to the company four months ago from FalconStor, where she was country manager. “They focused on the U.S. because they were a little nervous about coming into Canada earlier, thinking Canadians are generally conservative and don’t go with early adoption of products. This being a software product we’ve waited until the product matured.”

She wants to recruit HP and IBM VARs “as quickly as possible” to target small and medium-sized businesses.

While they’ll have to go through the company’s training program, “this is a very easy to sell product, because our VARs are very familiar with HP and IBM hardware. It’s more a case of allowing them to elevate themselves to the next level, from being a box-pusher to a solution provider.

“Typically some of the smaller VARs have not been able to get into the SAN market because of the cost and the expertise needed to implement Fibre Channel SANs. The iSCSI SANs are typically easy to implement. Every company has a networking guy and knows how to implement an IP network.”

LeftHand has a three-tier channel program, with members moving up by meeting sales targets. Authorized partners who sell US$50,000 in licences over a six-month period can move up to the gold level. Sharma said it would only take selling two systems a month to reach that. Gold level partners have to sell US$100,000 a month.

To move to the platinum level a partner has to sell US$250,000 a month. At each level there’s an increasing level of margin and MDF funds.

“Because this is a high-volume product, eventually I’d like to see at least 50 partners across Canada, she said.

Adding a second Tier 1 vendor like IBM legitimizes the iSCSI SAN approach, said Fanelli.

He said the company plans to add other server systems either from HP, IBM or other manufacturers.

“We’re providing (VARs) with the ability to sell more HP and IBM boxes,” he said. “By combining the boxes with SAN/iQ, they have a much higher margin product because they’re selling a system, and there’s additional opportunities with services and installation.”

LeftHand also announced that it has certified VMware ESX Server 3 for SAN/iQ systems running on HP DL380 plaftorms.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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