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Intransa Cranks Up IP SAN

Startup Intransa Inc. has begun beta testing its iSCSI-based storage system, aiming to ship its first product by June. It's promising all the benefits of IP storage area networks -- claiming it will be considerably less expensive than a Fibre Channel SAN to buy and manage -- but will Intransa be able to deliver? (See Intransa Details IP SAN Plans.)

Intransa's SAN-sans-Fibre Channel, dubbed the IP5000, consists of iSCSI-based back-end disk enclosures connected to its proprietary storage controllers, which provide volume management and other functions. The system, which connects to servers over standard Gigabit Ethernet, will carry a starting list price of $62,500 for 3.2 Tbytes (1.6 Tbytes usable), including hardware and software.

"We're building a full-featured IP SAN, not just a Pentium box with an IP port out the back," says John Howarth, Intransa's director of product management.

The forthcoming system will be one of only a few iSCSI targets out there -- a piece of the iSCSI picture that industry observers note has been sorely lacking. LeftHand Networks is already shipping an IP SAN system, but it uses a proprietary block-level protocol, and another IP SAN startup, EqualLogic Inc., is also shooting for a midyear launch. But for the time being, Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) is about the only other vendor who's delivered an iSCSI-enabled storage server (see IP SANs: Coming of Age, EqualLogic Tallies $15M, NetApp's IP SAN Wins a Fan, LeftHand Snatches $20M, and iSCSI Gets Go-Ahead).

Intransa's target market will be shops running Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) server applications, like Exchange and SQL Server, or Linux. The startup says it's been working closely with Redmond in developing its iSCSI system, and it's probably not a coincidence that Intransa's June launch will just about coincide with Microsoft's expected release of the final version of its iSCSI Windows drivers (see Microsoft to Unleash iSCSI).

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