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Startups Look to iSCSI Surge

Growing customer lists, new partnerships, and interest from major vendors are making it clear iSCSI SANs are on the right track, according to a group of startups that have been selling IP SAN since its infancy.

EqualLogic Inc., LeftHand Networks Inc., Intransa Inc., RASilient System, Sanrad Inc., and StoneFly Networks Inc. have spent more than a year trying to lay the groundwork so they can cash in when the market finally takes off.

So has that time been well spent? Right now, the answer seems to be yes. Although theyre private companies and it’s impossible to tell exactly who’s making traction, industry sources agree that at least three -- LeftHand, EqualLogic, and Intransa -- are starting to cash in.

Judging by customer wins and partnerships, LeftHand -- the group’s graybeard -- appears to be in the lead. It’s been shipping product since November 2001 when it rolled out a system based on a proprietary Ethernet protocol, and began shipping native iSCSI in October 2003 (see LeftHand's Latest Deal and LeftHand Picks Up iSCSI). LeftHand claims more than 750 of its systems have been installed, sparking a 350 percent year-over-year revenue growth (see LeftHand Reports Progress).

LeftHand's growth vindicates its strategy over the past eight months of selling its software on partners’ hardware instead of manufacturing its own arrays. LeftHand has signed up Crossroads Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CRDS), MPC Computers, Silicon Mechanics, and Verari Systems Inc. to run its SAN/iQ software on their storage systems.

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