Monday, October 12, 2009

Lefthand Setup Description

This is a good post that lays out the steps and thought processes required to install a lefthand SAN.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Interesting Post

I liked this post, it refers to Equallogic and Lefthand as two rival players being drafted to two rival NFL teams. These two teams really seem to go neck and neck a lot!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recent LeftHand SAN post

I find it very interesting that both these posts mentioned the console crashing

The only problem I ran into was that occasionally the console wouldn't start and I needed to terminate the javaw.exe process in Task Manager before restarting the console.

Anyways, in the Eweek article he liked the Idea of the architecture of the LeftHand SAN. He also received a dud of a unit, this is what he wrote.

The second server started, but failed to recognize the array controller and therefore didn’t boot completely.

Of course, the first thing I did then was take the server apart, at which point I noticed that the board containing the SAN/iQ software had fallen off of the P400 RAID controller—obviously a casualty of rough handling during shipping. Popping it back on did not solve the problem, but after an e-mail and a quick call, a new controller and a third server were on their way. After I installed the new controller, the server booted up smoothly.

Later on he ended up having a little bit of a support problem, he wrote

He was also unable to set up the SMTP for sending alerts to his email address.

He was impressed by the performance and by the management of the device.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pro EqualLogic Blog posts

Maybe my favorite quote is this from the Blog

We are currently supporting a ton of users, a large campus, Windows servers, Mac OS, Web Development, VMware ESX, etc. The last thing I need to worry about is allocating hours of time to support our storage solution. That’s where EqualLogic has been a huge win for us.
From here

This post at the bottom of this forum is also good

I have customers with Equallogic ps5000e using Dell R805 Servers and Xenserver 5.0. One customer is using ps for serving up progress db application for multiple locations using Windows 2008 TS. Another is serving up multiple locations using Web App and SQL 2005 db. Both the places have Raid 10 for equallogic array. Performance is great with no usr complaints about response times. Hosting approximately 10+ servers on a single xen host connected to shared equallogic SR. Host has dual quad core processors, 32 gb of ram and multiple gigabit nics. All the guests are on the equallogic array. Equallogic is a good choice. you will not regret it,


From here

Once again I see the simplicity of EqualLogic shine through.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Equallogic UI Take 2

As mentioned in one of the comments below, you can see how to do most any task on an equallogic box here

Really nice!

Monday, August 3, 2009

LeftHand UI, take 2

As featured on WindowsITPro

His take on the UI
The SAN/iQ software really sets this product in a class by itself and is the easiest SAN management software I've ever used. You don't need to be a storage expert or have to look up confusing storage terms like LUN Masking to configure the SAN. Instead, you use a series of easy-to-use wizards to perform the initial setup and configuration. You can rerun the wizards at any time.
That is the sort of UI I am looking for! Someone should get him an EqualLogic box and see which he likes better :)

He actually attached a rare screen shot of the SAN/iQ software :)

His only complaint
The only problem I ran into was that occasionally the console wouldn't start and I needed to terminate the javaw.exe process in Task Manager before restarting the console.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just ran across this InfoTec document LeftHand Vs. EqualLogic

This is one of their sample reports but has some interesting points.

Or here

Here are a couple of call outs.

Info-Tech has found that for those enterprises looking to acquire a clustered iSCSI solution, EqualLogic and LeftHand Networks are often in a dead heat. Both have similar price ranges and features. Both have benefitted from x86 server virtualization and continue to partner with VMware and others to enhance virtual infrastructures.
What usually tips the decision toward one or the other is a preference for how each implements storage clustering. EqualLogic’s storage units are more comprehensive while LeftHand Networks’ approach is more hardware agnostic and granular.

Then here is the crux

EqualLogic’s PS arrays have larger capacities as well as full hardware redundancy in each box. An enterprise can start with a single PS array and have a complete storage solution including capacity, management features, and hardware redundancy. EqualLogic often wins in a showdown with LeftHand because the buyers feel more comfortable with a full featured hardware solution ready to go out of the box.

SAN/iQ makes an individual server into a building block for a storage solution. A single “brick” can serve as a storage target, but to achieve hardware redundancy at least two bricks are required. This increases the upfront cost of the entry level. On the plus side, SAN/iQ can run on a variety of industry standard servers as well as a virtual machine – entry level SAN functionality can be provided to a virtual infrastructure without buying additional hardware.


With a year head start, Dell is further along in integrating EqualLogic into its products. Dell is making iSCSI a centerpiece of its storage offerings for mid-sized enterprises and EqualLogic PS-series products are the flagship. For example, when Dell rolled out new products for supporting virtual infrastructures in September 2008, the processing component was Dell server blades while the storage component was EqualLogic PS-series arrays. Dell also continues to sell more traditional storage arrays co-branded with EMC.


HP will be integrating LeftHand into its StorageWorks products. How LeftHand will fit into the overall strategy for HP is still a question mark. How will HP balance this new option – a server based clustered storage approach – against its existing traditional storage array business?

And the conclusion

Both vendors share in common a scalable clustered architecture, ease of installation and management, and a robust feature set. However, EqualLogic’s appeal is in providing a comprehensive solution in a hardware appliance. LeftHand’s strength is in providing a more agnostic basic building block for creating robust storage clusters. The software can even run on a VM to turn direct attached storage into a virtual SAN.

What does Information World think of EqualLogic and LeftHand;jsessionid=05AYVKJQXXCC0QSNDLRSKH0CJUNN2JVN?queryText=lefthand

They wrote:

Long-time readers know that a Dell (Dell) iSCSI array currently lies at the heart of our virt lab. Our December wishes came true when Dell offered us not one, but two updated arrays just in time for the holidays.
And then he wrote

We were able to add the two new devices to our existing EqualLogic SAN in a few minutes via the array management web interface. Dell's tools detected the new arrays, I entered IP and iSCSI info, and we ware ready to allocate the new raw storage in no time at all.

The hardest part of adding 52.8 terabytes of storage to the lab? Unpacking the crates.

The most laborious? Inserting the 48 SATA drives and re-installing the 16 SAS drives.

I remember when setting up robust, complex storage solution used to be a multi-day exercise in masocism. Now it's an afternoon of straightforward, honest work.

Once again another plug for the simplicity and elegance of EqualLogic!

In another post he talks about the coolness of using LeftHands VSA;jsessionid=05AYVKJQXXCC0QSNDLRSKH0CJUNN2JVN?queryText=lefthand
The pitch: no physical SAN required 'cause the VSA reclaims 'unused' storage in ESX boxes as a SAN. I still think this is a novel approach for smaller shops to benefit from ESX; external storage arrays (Fibre Channel or iSCSI) can be scary to the uninitiated. Build up a couple ESX hosts, load them up with internal storage and let the SAN/IQ software magically create a virtual storage area network. I can't imagine you'd want to run the dataset for a large transactional system on the same box as your hosted VMs, but it would probably address an SMB's needs (the target market) with no fuss.

LeftHand Awards

I did find a page with some LeftHand awards, unfortunately because of the HP purchase none of the links still work :(

EqualLogic a good buy for Dell

EqualLogic sales are up 71% versus overall storage revenues down 17 % year on year (for dell)

Dell said that the EqualLogic storage business is now four times larger than when it was acquired in November 2007 for $1.4bn. At that time, EqualLogic was looking like a $100m/year revenue company, implying a $400m/year revenue run rate now.
I haven't seen a similar post from HP but I have been searching for how the purchase of LH has gone for them.

This post kind of echoes my findings

With all the talk about FCoE and NFS it seems that iSCSI has become the odd man out. All reports indicate that Dell continues to do well with the EqualLogic acquisition but what Hewlett-Packard is doing with its LeftHand Networks purchase remains unclear. Don’t count iSCSI out yet, though -- companies are planning iSCSI storage solutions aimed right at the SME market.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spiceworks EqualLogic versus LeftHand thread

This is a thread where I asked for whether people would choose EqualLogic or LeftHand

It's pretty interesting!

ESRP Equallogic Versus Lefthand

Not a completely Apples to Apples comparison and I haven't had time to dive in but here is a LeftHand ESRP document

And an equallogic ESRP doc

Of course as this post mentions, ESRP reports are not really meant to compare systems.

What I like about LeftHand SAN's

I am really enamored by LeftHands Virtual Appliance

This is what Hp defines it as

  • Provides shared storage for VMware ESX environments leveraging current disk storage on the server
  • Enables VMware advanced features: HA, VMotion, DRS, SRM
  • Scalable without disruption
  • VMware certified compatible SAN/storage device
It seems to be an interesting way to convert the local disk on an ESX server into usable SAN space. It also seems like a great option for DR. You could get a virtual server spun up and then replicate your data to that remote site!

I started thinking about this and I am convinced that LeftHand should start giving away this virtual appliance for free! Now I know that I sound like a heretic, but I think this would a great way for LeftHand to get out in the market, and let people become familiar and used to their products. This would be a similar move that VMware took when they started giving away their vm products.

I have noticed this post though, that talks about

One issue with using a VSA as iSCSI storage on the same ESX server hosting the VSA is that rebooting the ESX server can take a long time, and may not complete, since the VSA has to shutdown first taking some storage offline before ESX is done shutting down.
Also on bootup the VSA is not online when ESX is first looking for iSCSI.
All this is avoided usually since VSA are meant to me clustered together to provide redundancy. But if using just one VSA, or a power event takes the whole cluster offline you would run into this issue.
If you go here you can download the scripts that address this

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Support and simpleness, Equallogic is KISS

I hear it time and time again, using Equallogic is about as easy as it gets!
From the survey below, from the article is 'When asked to respond to the statement 'This product is easy to use', a remarkable 19 out of 22 rated it a perfect 8.0, yielding an average score of 7.64.
From the blog post All things being Equal(logic) below.
'I don't think I've ever installed a storage system that is easier than the Equallogic boxes to get up and running'
And then three years later
To say that administering an Equallogic array is easy is almost an understatement, this thing takes virtually no time to administer.
From the InfoWorld article
As I mentioned, configuring the PS3800XV is a blindingly simple task.
Gartner 2008,
Its PS Series is among the easiest to install in the industry, and most of its customers install the storage systems themselves.

Its EqualLogic series is among the easiest to install in the industry and offers automatic load balancing among multiple nodes.
And now onto the topic of support.

This post rates their support as excellent.

This post states that he didn't choose EqualLogic but he would choose it again because of support!

Here are two nice reviews as well

Overall it looks like EqualLogic passes the KISS test.

The Awards, Equallogic Vs LeftHand

For what they are worth, awards are sometimes useful for judging products. This site lists quite a few of the awards that Equallogic has won.

  • 2008 Best iSCSI SAN - InfoWorld
  • 2007 SAN Product of the Year -
  • 2007 Best iSCSI SAN - eWeek
  • 2007 Virtualization Product of the Year - Storage Awards
  • 2006 Best Midrange SAN Array - Storage Magazine
  • 2006 Best Private Company - Byte & Switch
  • 2006 Best MidMarket Storage Product - VARbusiness
  • 2006 SAN Product of the Year - Storage Awards
  • 2006 Technology of the Year - InfoWorld
  • 2006 Best iSCSI Array - Network Computing
  • 2005 Editors Choice - iSCSI SAN Product - Storage Pipeline Awards
  • 2005 iSCSI Array of the Year - Network Computing Magazine
Also of equal interest are these graphs from the Diogenes Labs-Storage magazine Quality Awards.




And here is a link to the 2008 magazine article.

An interesting pull out from the article is 'When asked to respond to the statement 'This product is easy to use', a remarkable 19 out of 22 rated it a perfect 8.0, yielding an average score of 7.64.

Unfortunately, LeftHand was not included in this survey. Hopefully next year they will be included (because of not enough respondents)

My searching did not bring up nearly as many LeftHand SAN awards (It seems Dell\Equallogic is better at playing that game)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Influential posts Equallogic Versus Lefthand

This post

and this followup post

Even though they point out some possible flaws for equallogic are actually quite comforting in that they bring things down to earth.

What I take from the posts are
  • Install is dead simple (I get this from everyone and everywhere)
  • Performance is good
In his first post he mentions how it is easy to delete a volume, and in the second he mentions that equallogic took some of there UI suggestions! (I love to hear a company that is listening!!)

  • Takes virtually no time to administer.
  • Added improved replication, RAID 6, and thin provisioning.
  • Reliability - ZERO service issues from 4 storage arrays. Compared to EMC which had multiple
What he doesn't like is how space hungry the snapshots are. Equallogic apparently allocates snapshots in 16MB pages.

This is a place that I think LeftHand is ahead, you don't have to preallocate space for the snapshots instead they are thin provisioned.

At the end of the post he says that come next year he is not sure if he will stick with Equallogic, so he is definitely looking for something else.

It is nice to see a post from an Equallogic person at least trying to address his concerns.

Of interest, Riverbed and Equallogic and LeftHand

It seems that Riverbed probably works equally well with either solution.



What does InfoWorld think

I just thought these posts were interesting. Written by two different authors, the first on EqualLogic (In 2007) scored

Article here,1
The author highlights the speed of the box some of the speed coming from the high performance SAS drives and the rest coming from the 'enormous 2GB battery-backed cache'

Also highlights the extreme ease of use.

The other article (written in 2007) scored

Article is here

Author points out that lefthand is a clustered storage that can run proprietary hardware as well as HP servers (I'm pretty sure other servers as well)

Flexibility jumped as a clear differentiator.

LeftHands thin provisioning of snapshots (only copying the delta)

Checking out what Gartner thinks Equallogic vs Lefthand

So the first mention I can find of equallogic from Gartner is in this 2006 report.

The graph places them here.

The Text reads: The PS series is a modular block storage system with iSCSI connectivity and a peer-to-peer topology that enables capacity, performance and connectivity to scale linearly. Controller-based snapshot, remote copy and automatic load-balancing features are included at no additional charge. The EqualLogic PS400E, with dual controllers and 10.5 B of SATA disk in a 3U high package, makes it an attractive in situations where space and power consumption are important considerations. EqualLogic's early support of 15K rpm SAS disks in its PS3800XV increases performance relative to SATA disks and, compared with FC disks, reduces costs while simplifying the back-end design. Messaging emphasizes performance, ease of installation, ease of management, a rich feature set, easy scalability and low cost. Not charging for value-added features and a three-year return policy on failed disks lowers storage TCOs.

The first mention of LeftHand is in the 2H07 report here.

Equallogic has increased in the visionaries quadrant, and increased in its ability to execute. This is the year the Equallogic was purchased by Dell, so it kind of makes things fuzzy.

Here are the listed strengths and cautions.
  • EqualLogic was the pure-play iSCSI market leader in 2006 in terms of vendor revenue. It continued to grow fast in 2007, has an installed base of more than 3,500 users and has about 500 active value-added resellers (VARs).
  • Its PS Series is among the easiest to install in the industry, and most of its customers install the storage systems themselves. It offers a scale-out, pay-as-you-grow architecture and automatic load balancing among multiple nodes, and its standard pricing includes many features, such as thin provisioning, snapshots, remote replication and automated Multipath I/O management.
  • The pending acquisition by Dell will remove company viability issue in customers' minds.
  • Although EqualLogic has made progress in penetrating large accounts, its success story has been mainly confined to small and midsize environments.
  • Productwise, the PS Series doesn't natively support the FC protocol or file access protocols and cannot be leveraged by customers who prefer unified storage.
  • Although EqualLogic sells in 30 countries, international revenue contribution remained small at 18% at the end of September 2007.
  • Its relatively heavy reliance on its top-10 channel partners (about 40% of its revenue) may be problematic in the future after Dell completes the acquisition, because Dell's historical direct sales model has strained its relationship with the distribution channel.
Lefthand is placed as more visionary but not executing as much.

LeftHand Networks

  • LeftHand Networks is an emerging disk storage company that sells its branded Network Storage Module (NSM) iSCSI disk storage system and packages its SAN/iQ software with IBM, HP and Dell industry standard servers to build physical iSCSI storage SANs.
  • As an alternative to building physical iSCSI SANs, LeftHand Networks will license its software to run in an ESX virtual machine, enabling customers to build virtual SANs.
  • SAN/iQ functionality is the same whether running on a physical server or in a virtual machine. It includes centralized management, snapshots, asynchronous remote copy, thin provisioning and online volume migration. SAN/iQ clusters can include physical and virtual NSMs in a single logical shared storage pool, implement software RAID and support geoclusters.
  • LeftHand Networks claims linear performance scalability of SAN/iQ clusters, because they grow from three to 30 nodes and notes that customers have built SAN/iQ clusters of more than 100 nodes.
  • Running on Dell, HP or IBM server hardware enables LeftHand Networks customers to take advantage of these companies' hardware support and LeftHand Networks for software support.
  • The growth of LeftHand Networks' revenue and the iSCSI market have put the vendor on the radar screens of its larger and more established competitors.
  • Dell, with its recent acquisition of EqualLogic, is the most obvious strategic threat to LeftHand because it owns competitive technology, has low-cost sales and support models, and has EqualLogic's channel partners if it can keep them and a direct sales model if it cannot keep them.
  • LeftHand Networks needs to keep its SAN/iQ competitive and its hardware and software products complementary.
  • LeftHand Networks needs to maintain its revenue growth to remain relevant.
  • Keeping its channel productive and its installed base loyal as it grows will present major challenges for LeftHand Networks.
And finally the 2H08 report here

In this chart it does not yet show the acquisition of LeftHand by HP. Dell has greatly improved its visionaryness by the acquisition of Equallogic and still has very high execution.

Here are the comments on DELL (EqualLogic):

  • Dell was the third-largest worldwide midrange block disk array vendor in revenue market share for the period of 3Q07 through 2Q08. The newly acquired EqualLogic has provided Dell with innovative storage technology, as well as the leading position in the iSCSI SAN market with a 34% revenue market share in 1H08. The EqualLogic business grew more than 70% in 1H08, representing almost 16% of Dell's total midrange disk storage revenue.
  • Dell is reaching out to the distribution channels to broaden its market beyond its server installed base by offering more-aggressive pricing. It has added storage specialists and increased its investment in professional storage services.
  • Its EqualLogic series is among the easiest to install in the industry and offers automatic load balancing among multiple nodes. Dell continues the all-inclusive pricing model to drive the affordability of storage for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). New enhancements in 2008 include application-aware data protection support for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Virtual Servers, as well as VMware Site Recovery Manager.
  • Dell/EMC-branded storage declined almost 7% in 1H08, partly because of customers waiting for the summer launch of CX4 series. It is likely, but not conclusive at this point, that it was also impacted by EqualLogic storage.
  • Dell will face increased iSCSI competition, especially from HP, which announced its pending acquisition of LeftHand Networks. Dell offers five iSCSI platforms with some overlapping markets. This could be confusing for potential customers.
  • Although Dell was able to keep 50% of the EqualLogic business through the channels, it has lost some previous EqualLogic channel partners and will have to continue its efforts to gain channel's trust and avoid conflicts.
And then for LeftHand (It appears to have remained stable in the visionary and execution)

  • HP on 1 October 2008 announced its intention to acquire LeftHand Networks for $360 million in cash, thereby removing any questions about company viability.
  • LeftHand Networks has a large and growing installed base that in 4Q08 includes more than 3,000 customers and 11,000 installations. The high double-digit percentage of revenue growth attributable to repeat business suggests a high level of customer satisfaction within the LeftHand Networks installed base.
  • The SAN/IQ software implements a scale-out iSCSI disk storage infrastructure that can include a mix of physical and virtual servers and includes such high-value-added functionality as thin provisioning, snapshots and asynchronous remote copy.
  • HP's acquisition of LeftHand Networks will create management, development, marketing and sales instabilities that will take time to resolve. During this transition period, maintaining sales momentum could be a challenge.
  • Dell's success with EqualLogic will put further pressure on HP as it assimilates LeftHand Networks.
  • Retaining LeftHand Networks channel partners that compete against HP in the server, storage or professional services marketplaces could prove difficult.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Size of company comparison and other triva facts

Lefthand was founded in 1999 and had 200 some employees located in bolder CO, before it was acquired by HP on December 1,2008 for $360 million in cash, subject to certain purchase price adjustments. It had 215 employees and more than 500 resellers and distributors worldwide. The company had more than 11,000 installations across 3,000 different customers.

Equallogic on the other company was incorporated in 2001 and is headquartered in Nashua, New Hampshire. Had 384 employees and as of January 25, 2008, EqualLogic, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Dell Inc. it was purchased for 1.4 billion.

This post questions how many customers lefthand really had

But if you were to base your decision on purchase price alone, Equallogic was valued much higher than Lefthand. It makes you wonder....

First up Equallogic UI Versus Lefthand UI

The first thing that I noticed is that it is very difficult to find examples of the SAN/iQ UI. On the other hand Equallogic screenshots are all over the place. I stole this equallogic pic from here

There is an image here
And here
And here
And youtube videos
Now I realize that most of these are user generated web pages. But it is interesting to note that it seems to be a lot more difficult to find out what the UI of the LeftHand SAN will be.

So in the search to find out what the lefthand SAN will look like this is the first hit on youtube. I could not make this up if I tried, ok don't watch that it actually doesn't show the interface. That presentation puts me to sleep (not produced by lefthand to be fair) I wish both of these vendors had more information out for what their stuff looked like.

Ok, after some heavy googling I ran across some screen shots for the LeftHand SAN
(From the spiceworks user limey, go spiceworks!)

Here is another

I also found a couple of pics inside a book from here

I hope that can sort of give you a taste of what the different UI's look like. Maybe some Equallogic or Lefthand people will reply with screenshots of common interface tasks. (To be fair I should probably download the LeftHand virtual machine and get some screen shots from it, maybe in a future post)

This blog will be a series of posts documenting the differences between Equallogic and Lefthand

I don't work for either company. I am just trying to wrap my brain around what would be a good decision for the middle sized enterprise I work at.


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