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Hewlett-Packard releases first LeftHand iSCSI SAN products

LeftHand Networks' iSCSI SANs will be delivered as HP appliances only, including a new low-end SAS configuration.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. is rolling out a SAS Starter SAN, the first new iSCSI SAN system from its $360 million acquisition of LeftHand Networks Inc. last year.

HP's plan for LeftHand is to sell its SAN/iQ software exclusively with HP server hardware. The SAS Starter SAN comes in a two-node configuration based on the HP ProLiant DL185 server chassis with 4.8 TB of 15,000 rpm SAS disk drives for approximately $35,000.

In addition, HP has bumped up the LeftHand SATA Starter SAN starting configuration from 9 TB capacity to 12 TB, while keeping the $30,000 starting price. It will also continue to carry the Multi-Site SAN and Virtual SAN Appliance (VSA) from LeftHand's lineup. Pricing for the Multi-Site SAN starts at $170,000 for 21.6 TB, 15,000 rpm SAS disks, as well as LeftHand's Multi-Site HA/DR Solution Pack software and active-active failover features. The VSA is a 2 TB appliance to connect to virtual servers.

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Chris McCall, senior manager of product marketing for the LeftHand division of HP StorageWorks, said HP intends to position LeftHand for server virtualization projects. He said LeftHand was also moving in that direction before the sale. "Three quarters of our sales funnel is tied to virtualization projects," he said, adding that no more than 30% of the company's sales pipeline was software-only prior to the acquisition. "We were headed down the appliance path ourselves."

Besides selling SAN/iQ on bundled appliances, LeftHand had partners who sold it on their hardware.

Not every LeftHand customer is happy about the new strategy. "One key selling point was the fact that LeftHand had a partnership with both HP and Dell [Inc.]," said Jimmy Reid, director of technical operations at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Reid has both server vendors' hardware in production. The university currently runs LeftHand's software only on HP, but Reid said he values being able to repurpose older HP hardware using LeftHand's software if he needs to. "It's a little disturbing that it's not going to be an option," he said.

Reid added that the inclusion of SAS drives puts the new appliance beyond his budget. "SAS disks just make it more expensive [than SATA]," he said.

But David Russell, vice president at Gartner Research, says the strategy makes sense for HP. While it helped LeftHand to have others selling its software, a large company like HP can offer its own commodity hardware.

"HP has no vested interest in selling another vendor's hardware," Russell said. "It also minimizes the compatibility matrix HP has to support."

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