LeftHand Reaches Crossroads

Startup to put IP SAN software on third-party hardware, beginning with Crossroads router

March 30, 2004

3 Min Read
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LeftHand Networks Inc., an early player in the IP SAN space, has forged an alliance with hardware vendor Crossroads Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CRDS) in an effort to widen its customer base (see LeftHand Finds Right Hand Partner).

Crossroads will sell LeftHands SAN/iQ software in its routers to bring IP storage into companies that already have Fibre Channel installed.

The main advantage to LeftHand will be more sales to customers that want to keep using Fibre Channel arrays while dipping a toe in IP SAN waters. "This broadens their solution. It gives more flexibility to the customers. Before, if I had a bunch of Fibre Channel storage lying around, I couldn’t use it with LeftHand storage. Now I can still use that storage if I use LeftHand,” says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group analyst firm.

“It’s not a new strategy,” says LeftHand marketing VP Tom Major. “It’s time to implement a new phase. We always had a plan to license our software to others... We see no value in manufacturing hardware with the same characteristics found on many platforms.”

The partnership is the first in what Major says is phase two of LeftHand's strategic plan to follow initial sales of IP SANs with a licensing program on other vendors' hardware (see LeftHand Picks Up iSCSI and LeftHand Complements its IP SAN).Crossroads hopes to benefit, too. It will use LeftHand’s software to create what it calls a storage virtualization router capable of storage management, snapshot storage, volume sizing, and replication. Since it's being sold into sites that already have Fibre Channel, the appliance will be geared to allowing centralized management of isolated pools of iSCSI and Fibre Channel storage. Crossroads will brand the router and sell it through direct sales, storage integrators, and OEMs. General availability is expected in September or October 2004.

For Crossroads, the partnership also points to an effort to use strategic partnerships to stop hemorrhaging cash. The company has lost money every quarter since 1996 but has cut its losses in the two quarters since CEO Rob Sims has been at the helm (see Crossroads Cuts Loss in Q1 and Crossroads Cuts Its Losses). When he took over in September, Sims said Crossroads would try to strengthen its product base through alliances (see Crossroads Hires CEO). In December, Crossroads invested $2.5 million in little-known startup NexQL, which makes database access software (see Crossroads Trades Cash for Tech).

Crossroads chief technologist Bob Griswold says he sees iSCSI as a big market opportunity. “IP SANs and iSCSI are sparking interest, and we hope to ride that wave,” he says.

LeftHand will continue to sell its IP SAN systems, based on its own IP-compatible hardware. The gear has given it a bunch of wins in the government sector and more than 100 customers overall (see Eagle Flies With IP SAN and LeftHand Tallies Government Wins). Those systems based on low cost and simple installation will remain its bread and butter until hardware partnerships like the one with Crossroads can widen its customer base.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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