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Lefthand Grabs Another Fistful

Lefthand Networks, the Boulder, Colo., startup from Lefthand Valley, has grabbed an extra $3 million from new investors Portage Ventures
and Ironside Ventures, topping off the $10 million it raised in April.

Lefthand is named after Chief Niwot ("the lefthander") of the Arapaho, who was an English interpreter and negotiator for settlers drawn to Colorado in 1859 by the gold strikes. It is making a hardware device that interprets (geddit?) data on storage-area networks (SANs) and in network-attached storage (NAS) and unites it into a single, harmonious network.

The product, code-named Sawtooth, is a hybrid device that blends into one system the file-oriented data common to NAS devices with the block-oriented database, data warehousing, or transaction data residing on SANs. That allows users greater flexibility in configuring their storage networks and accomplishes one of the goals of virtualization, the current Holy Grail of storage networking.

The approach Lefthand has adopted uses the speed of gigabit Ethernet and borrows distributed processing and clustering techniques from the supercomputer industry. The goal is to provide massively scaleable storage that presents the user with a single system image. For example, scaling from 500 gigabytes to 500 terabytes would be a seamless move in all dimensions -- capacity, bandwidth, and processing power -- and the system would behave as if it were a single box. Sounds impressive, if they can pull it off. They are keeping quiet about exactly what final shape their system will take.

Lefthand’s advantage is that a user can buy what he needs, then add whatever incremental elements are required, and the system automatically 'morphs' into a new, unified whole,” says Steve Duplessie, principal analyst with research firm, Enterprise Storage Group Inc. In theory, Duplessie says, there is no downside to this arrangement; but he thinks that in practice they may have to unveil file services (CIFS and NFS) first and provide block services later.