LeftHand Gains Traction...and $20 Million in Funding - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

LeftHand Gains Traction...and $20 Million in Funding

The words "oversubscribed funding round" don't appear too often anymore, as most start-ups seem more preoccupied with just surviving until better times come along.

That makes LeftHand Network's funding round announced today all the more remarkable.

The $20 million series B round was led by the Sprout Group, with all previous investors participating. The money brings LeftHand's total funding to $39 million, enough to help the company breakeven next year, contends founder and CEO Bill Chambers.

LeftHand is experiencing "tremendous traction," according to Chambers, gaining on average a new customer every week. The company will use the money to expand sales, support, and business operations.

LeftHand's Network Storage Module (NSM) and Distributed Storage Matrix (DSM) products enable customers to build complete IP-SANs using existing Ethernet infrastructure.

The products transmit data in block mode over Ethernet, providing SAN-like functionality without the distance limitations, says David Bangs, LeftHand's vice president of sales and marketing. The Network Storage Modules are 1/2 terabyte each and can scale infinitely.

Chambers says a complete solution can be purchased for less than $20,000, but that a typical deployment costs $50,000-$70,000.

The DSM and NSM products enable customers to create an IP-SAN for database and application servers with standard Ethernet switches in 30 minutes or less, the company claims, and the built-in IP-SAN clustering, virtualization and replication features of DSM create an easy to manage, highly scalable, fault tolerant "pool" of storage that can be shared by all servers on the network. This pool appears to application/database servers as a local disk drive that scales in both performance and capacity as additional NSMs are added anywhere on the network.

LeftHand is targeting the issue of scalability in the NAS environment, according to Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group.

"Once a current generation NAS solution reaches its capacity limit, the user must add a new NAS appliance," elaborates Marrone. "The second NAS must be managed completely independently from the first. The files cannot be shared across the two NAS appliances -- the file structures are separate, complicating management, particularly when there are a number of NAS solutions in the environment.

"LeftHand's solution scales such that when the first box reaches its capacity limit, one can be added and they morph together to look like a single managed entity. Files can be shared across all of the disks, and the file directory is also shared."

"They have had a shipping product for some time, and are getting decent traction," concludes Marrone. Other vendors in the space include Isilon and Panasas.

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