By Lisa Coleman
LeftHand Networks recently announced support for iSCSI and is shipping a new IP-based storage area network (SAN) and remote IP replication software.
Two years ago, in the absence of the iSCSI standard, LeftHand developed its proprietary Advanced Ethernet Block Storage (AEBS) protocol to allow block-level communication over IP for its storage subsystems. LeftHand will support iSCSI in December, but will continue to support AEBS.
"They plan to offer iSCSI as a non-disruptive microcode upload, so customers won't have to bring systems down to be iSCSI-compliant," says Arun Taneja, consulting analyst and founder of The Taneja Group.
LeftHand Networks' IP SAN uses distributed clustering for scalability and no single points of failure.
LeftHand is also introducing the Network Storage Module (NSM) 200 IP SAN, a follow-on to its NSM 100. The 2U NSM 200 has 1.2TB per module and includes high-availability features such as RAID 10, eight hot-swappable disk drives, dual Gigabit Ethernet cards, Xeon processors, and dedicated cache in NVRAM. The unit is priced at $18,500.
The NSMs include LeftHand's proprietary distributed storage matrix (DSM) software for distributed clustering, which provides scalable performance, cluster management, dynamic capacity expansion, and no single point of failure. DSM 4.3 will use iSCSI as its default protocol in December.
The NSM-based IP SAN provides functionality comparable to Fibre Channel SANs, claims Tom Major, vice president of marketing at LeftHand. Features include snapshots, automatic fail-over, centralized management, automatic data migration, disaster recovery, virtualization, and replication via the company's newest feature—Remote IP Copy.
Competitors include iSCSI-based IP SAN vendors such as EqualLogic, Intransa, and StoneFly Networks.
"LeftHand has a bigger arsenal than the other vendors right now, but I believe it's a temporary advantage because competitors are working to complete their product suites," says Taneja.
Remote IP Copy provides asynchronous replication via snapshots over any distance. Replication is performed at the volume level. The remote replication feature is aimed at the mid-tier market, which typically cannot afford that type of replication, according to Major. Remote IP Copy software licensing is based on the number of NSMs installed. For example, a license for three NSMs with 3.6TB starts at $8,700.