LeftHand's Latest Deal

Secures an extra $5.5 million for marketing new product

November 13, 2001

3 Min Read
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Storage appliance startup LeftHand Networks has secured an extra $5.5 million to support the launch of its product next month (see LeftHand Lands Lucre).

The extra funding comes from a third subscription to LeftHand's first funding round and brings its total raised to $19.4 million (see Lefthand Grabs Another Fistful ). The latest input comes from two new investors, William Blair New World Ventures and Wasatch Venture Fund, and it should last the company until early 2003, regardless of whether there's any revenue at that time, officials said.

However, LeftHand CEO Bill Chambers (no relation to the Cisco CEO) is projecting about $3 million in revenue next year. LeftHand's product is currently in beta testing at six customer sites and will ship commercially in December 2001, spokespeople say.

The Boulder, Colo., companys Network Unified Storage device, named the NSM 100, combines block and file storage over standard Ethernet or gigabit Ethernet networks. Its support of both types of input will enable its use in SAN and NAS applications.

The NSM 100 also enables companies to scale their storage via an Ethernet network using LeftHand’s unique (read: proprietary) Advanced Ethernet Block Storage (AEBS) protocol. The company plans to submit this as a potential standard to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).The NSM 100 does not have a Fibre Channel interface, although it can be hooked into an FC SAN. “We will only support FC natively if we get a big customer that really demands it,” says Chambers. “FC is dying as far as we can see." (He's not alone in this sentiment -- see The Fall of Fibre Channel.)

Chambers says the advantages of Ethernet from a cost perspective massively outweigh the advantages of FC. Existing technicians know how to deploy Ethernet, so those considering moving to a network-based infrastructure can simply extend their Ethernet networks to incorporate storage, Chambers maintains. And he says an estimated 90 percent of the installed base of storage is still direct-attached, making it a prime candidate for migration to Ethernet. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says.

NSMs can be clustered in parallel on the network, avoiding bottlenecks and increasing flexibility, according to company officials. The devices can be managed as a single volume of storage via LeftHand’s Storage Control Console software. Data also can be mirrored within and among devices, regardless of geographic distance.

The NSM 100 has a 1U form factor with four hot-swappable drives, an 866-MHz Pentium III Processor, redundant power supplies, and up to 1 gigabyte of cache per device. Prices for a 160-gigabyte NSM system, inclusive of hardware, software, and a three-year service and remote support warranty, begin at $15,000.

"LeftHand is an early leader in the new frontier of storage,” says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc.. “From initial customer response, it is something the market has been waiting for."Still, nothing's guaranteed. Dan Tanner, analyst at the Aberdeen Group, says LeftHand will face stiff competition from both startups and big players in the storage arena, including EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), 3ware Inc., and Nishan Systems Inc.

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Want to know more? The big cheeses of the storage networking industry will be discussing this topic in a session at StorageNext, Byte and Switch’s annual conference, being held in New York City, December 11-13, 2001. Check it out at StorageNext2001

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