The SAN/iQ software loads onto Hewlett-Packards ProLiant DL380 servers, allowing them to be clustered and networked into a SAN (storage area network) configuration. Users can then manage the clusters centrally via the network.
This announcement expands on a program LeftHand Networks unveiled in January, which allowed distributors like Bell Microproducts and Tech Data to integrate SAN/iQ with HP ProLiant DL380 servers and sell them as iSCSI storage controllers through the channel.
After feedback from many customers that indicated that they could perhaps procure the servers more inexpensively themselves, or already had servers in use at their locations, company executives decided to offer the software directly to resellers and end users.
"They wanted the option of buying the software separately and having their resellers integrate it on site, or to take existing servers and repurpose them by making them an application server to an iSCSI SAN," said Karl Chen, vice president of marketing and development at LeftHand Networks, based in Boulder, Colo.
This announcement makes the idea of using an open server platform as a storage controller more than just talk, said Tony Asaro, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, of Milford, Mass. "The notion that you can use an HP ProLiant server as the iSCSI storage controller is powerful," he said.
By creating this integration, LeftHand Networks is putting its money where its mouth is, Asaro said.
"All of these storage hardware vendors say its all about the software, but LeftHand is the only one that can stand behind that statement, because they arent making you buy their hardware. This is really the open SAN concept everyone talks about."
Arming ProLiant servers with SAN/iQ software also can help extend the life of HPs older servers by repurposing older or retired servers into the iSCSI SAN, Chen said. Thats especially important as servers such as the DL380, HPs leading SCSI-based server, are slowly being replaced by newer virtual servers, such as blade servers, SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) and SATA (Serial ATA) servers, he noted.
"At any large HP account, youll see racks of these [DL380] servers. This is a great way to give customers investment protection as they migrate to the new blade servers and SAS servers," Chen said.
This is the first time LeftHand networks has offered SAN/iQ as stand-alone software rather than as an integrated array or appliance.
"We see it as a step toward the trend in the industry where platforms are becoming more standardized so customers can better leverage server and storage platforms," Chen said. "We envision that some day there will be standard server platforms customers can point to and say, Were going to load Windows on these and they will become Windows application servers, were going to load NetWare on these and they will become file servers, were going to load Windows Storage Server for Microsoft on these and turn them into a NAS [network-attached storage] gateway, and well put SAN/iQ on these boxes and turn it into a block-level distributed SAN."
Asaro said he expects that although LeftHand Networks has started by offering SAN/iQ on the ProLiant DL380, it soon will expand into other server markets. LeftHands Chen agreed, saying that although the company started with the DL380 because of its popularity, price point and density, the company plans to support other HP platforms and even expand to other vendors. As an example, Chen pointed to LeftHand Networks current agreement with Intel, whose storage servers currently ship with SAN/iQ software.
"Our vision is that as the world moves more toward standard storage server platforms, SAN/iQ can be the enabling technology that turns standard storage servers into enterprise-class robust SANs," he said.
SAN/iQ software is available as a field integration offering through authorized LeftHand Networks partners, starting at $11,975.