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Startup offers full IP SAN system

A privately held IP storage company called Intransa has brought its first SAN product to bear, with the aim of taking over the IP SAN market.

A privately held IP storage company called Intransa has brought its first SAN product to bear, with the aim of taking over the IP SAN market.

Priced at less than two cents per megabyte, Intransa's IP5000 Storage System scales from 3 to 10 terabytes (TB) and uses existing Ethernet and IP networks to provide a viable low-cost storage network.

San Jose, Calif.-based Intransa said the IP5000 is suited for Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes environments, as well as large data stores built around Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases. The product can facilitate data management and disaster recovery strategies.

John Harwood, Intransa's director product marketing, said the IP5000 is a complete iSCSI SAN.

"The IP5000 is primarily a software product," he said. "It can support 10 to 20 large Microsoft servers."

Harwood said the first release of the IP5000 includes a trial version of Intransa's snapshot software. He admits that its snapshot capabilities will improve as the software is fleshed out. He said it needs tools and parameters that users can set.

Intransa's IntraStor architecture places the storage management function in the network and allows the management and control functions to be physically separate from the actual storage devices. Storage can be managed as a single pool with management functions like virtual volume manager, mirroring and snapshots. The company said that discovery, fault management and failover are also managed automatically by the IP5000.

Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing at Microsoft Corp's enterprise storage division, said the software giant has "worked closely" with Intransa and has been testing the IP5000 in its iSCSI labs for interoperability with Microsoft software.

"Microsoft worked heavily with us. We helped them with their drivers," said Intransa's Harwood. "The way they do iSCSI redirect is based on our design."

The IP5000 Storage System has independent storage controllers and disk enclosures that are connected through a 2 Gigabit Ethernet switch. By keeping the controllers independent from the ATA disk drives, Intransa said, customers have the ability to separately increase performance and capacity as needed without disrupting applications.

Though the IP SAN market is still in its larval stage, Intransa is not without competition. Several startups, including LeftHand Networks and EqualLogic Systems, are rolling out IP SAN technology at a rapid pace.

Michael Peterson, president and senior analyst at Strategic Research Corp., Carpinteria, Calif., said that, so far, EqualLogic has the best traction. "They are also more 'normal,' whereas Intransa and LeftHand create islands of storage," he said.

"Intransa is in a good spot with the Microsoft relationship. The story is very impressive and the product well thought out," he said.

Peterson is generally impressed with Intransa's ability to execute its product delivery.

The IP5000 Storage System is expected to ship in June 2003, with a starting price of $62,500 for a 3.2 TB unit.

In January 2003, Intransa added $6 million in investment funding to its war chest, bringing its total to $34 million raised to fund its operations. The company said its existing investors, Advanced Technology Ventures, Sofinnova Ventures, Sofinnova Partners, US Venture Partners and 3Com, were joined by other smaller investors in Intransa's third round of funding. Intransa expects to put the funding toward increased marketing and sales programs and toward building the company's customer service solutions as it prepares to launch its first product.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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