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Server virtualization is driving storage demand

LeftHand Networks releases two new SAN-based storage appliances designed to provide the storage networking needed to enable server virtualization

Calling server virtualization the “killer app” for iSCSI storage solutions in the mid-market and enterprise space, Boulder, Colo.-based LeftHand Networks has released two new SAN storage platforms, the NSM 4150 and the NSM 2060.

LeftHand has tried to differentiate itself from a technology perspective by building its solutions to run on industry-standard servers and not on proprietary storage arrays says Larry Cormier, vice-president, marketing.

“I think it’s a very channel-friendly model as we’re able to provide solutions to the channel they can either integrate themselves or get as appliances from us and (build a service offering around),” said Cormier, adding with Dell’s recent acquisition of EqualLogic, LeftHand is now the largest independent iSCSI provider in the market, and the largest one that is channel-centric. “Whether or not you agree that Dell will actually try to maintain the channel distribution of EqualLogic…one could argue that has a long shot at success given so much of the channel has been competing with Dell for so long.”

Chris McCall, senior product manager, says LeftHand goes to the market through three primary avenues with its SAN/IQ storage software platform: server virtualization platform, enterprise class x86 servers, and LeftHand network nodes.

“What we’re trying to do is provide the right platform for the right situation,” said McCall. “We want to allow the business needs of the customer to decide what platform makes sense for them.”

In the network node area LeftHand has had the NSM 160, an appliance product with SAN/iQ pre-integrated on optimized configurations. The appliance approach is meant to go after customers used to purchasing a storage system from a vendor, making it easier to buy, and offering a single support contract for hardware and software.

The NSM 160 is an SMB-focused product designed for the remote or branch office, but seeing tremendous opportunity in the mid-market and enterprise McCall says LeftHand has expanded its NSM offerings with the 4150 and 2060. Server virtualization is creating new challenges for storage, says McCall, requiring high availability and performance.

“We’ve specifically packaged and priced these products to go after a couple of market segments where server virtualization has really taken off,” said McCall. “We see over 50 per cent of our business today being driven by server virtualization projects.”

LeftHand’s mid market offering, the NSM 2060, is available in three drive options: a 1.8TB SAS appliance as well as 3.0TB and 4.5TB SATA appliances. Pricing ranges from US$15,000 to US$19,000. Positioned for the local data centre and scaled for future growth, the 2060 is a fully-integrated IP-based appliance for easy set-up, offers plug and play capacity expansion, as well as integrated synchronous replication, representing a single volume of data to the user no matter at what location the data resides.

“By pricing to hit certain budget requirements it allows us to not only deliver a solution across the enterprise, but also target the SME and SMB marketplace,” said McCall.

Targeting the enterprise space is the NSM 4150, which is also available in three drive options: a 4.5TB SAS appliance as well as 7.5TB and 11.25 TB SATA appliances. Pricing ranges from US$32,000 to US$40,000. LeftHand boasts the 4150 offers reduced cost, complexity and downtime compared to Fibre Channel SANs, as well as being 33 per cent to 40 per cent less expensive. The clustered architecture is designed to eliminate the performance bottlenecks that often occur in virtualized server environments.

“We’re simplifying the sales model for the LeftHand portfolio by extending our NSM series,” said McCall.

Richard Villars, vice-president of storage systems research at IDC, says a growing number of companies are simplifying their IT environments by implementing an integrated virtual data centre strategy that leverages server virtualization, iSCSI and storage virtualization.

“Solutions like LeftHand’s NSM 4150 and NSM 2060 will provide companies of all sizes with the assurance that iSCSI-based solutions will deliver the scalability and flexibility that they require today and in the future.”