Connecting Storage to Apps

InterSAN's central management interface uses vendor's Virtual Private DataPath technology

Startup software vendor InterSAN Inc. is hoping to stand out in the already-crowded parade of enterprise storage management.

In an area occupied by such heavyweights as Computer Associates International Inc., IBMs Tivoli division and Veritas Software Corp., InterSAN plans to carve its niche with software designed to manage the applications that enterprises run on top of their storage hardware.

Beta testing for the as-yet-unnamed product will begin this month, said InterSAN CEO and President Chris Melville.

Also this month, the Scotts Valley, Calif., company will announce that its first product, due this fall, will support hardware from EMC Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and LSI Logic Corp.

"What it does is create a logical connection between the storage and what it accesses," Melville said.

That, along with storage provisioning and service-level management, is done using a patented process InterSAN calls Virtual Private DataPath.

Besides having a central management interface for vendors storage hardware and software, InterSANs product will link its partners products together on the back end to let enterprise administrators accomplish multiprotocol switch integration, security, and, eventually, virtualization and data replication.

EMC, Hitachi and LSI—all rivals—are each working separately with InterSAN through their respective partner programs and the sharing of programming interfaces and management hooks.

The relationship with EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass., will be announced this week. Deals with Hitachi, of Santa Clara, Calif., and LSI, of Milpitas, Calif., will be announced July 30.

More product details and other technology and business partners will be announced next month, according to officials.

InterSAN, which employs 30 people, has no plans to become a service provider or to offer its application on a hosted basis, Melville said.

Industry analyst Randy Kerns, of Evaluator Group Inc., said InterSAN has found a good niche to play in.

"Theyve got a little different take on it, which we think is important. They did realize that there would be multiple SANs [storage area networks] which would be linked together. You could get some economic value. ... Thats fairly prescient," said Kerns, in Greenwood Village, Colo.

But Kerns said InterSANs path will hardly be obstacle-free.

"Theyre a small startup company with no proven track record," Kerns said. "Whos going to offer the product and stand behind it? Thats really a critical issue in the marketplace. Some vendors may not give them the time of day. These types of solutions people tend to buy from name-brand companies. They need to start courting partners."

Still, InterSAN may give some of those larger companies a reason to invest more in the niche.

"Some of those large companies may realize they do need an offering, and it may be a launch point for providing that," Kerns said. But, he said, "if [InterSAN] can make this work, theyve got something."