HP To Buy LeftHand In Midmarket Storage, Virtualization Play


Hewlett-Packard is looking to extend its storage and virtualization play into the midmarket with its $360 million cash bid to acquire LeftHand Networks.

The deal, announced Wednesday, will enable HP to wrap LeftHand's midsize, remote and branch office storage virtualization and iSCSI SAN into its already growing arsenal of storage and virtualization offerings.

Boulder, Colo.-based LeftHand was founded in 1999. The privately held company has 215 employees and a stable of more than 500 resellers and distributors worldwide. LeftHand has an estimated 11,000 installations within 3,000 different customers globally.

"Joining with HP is a natural fit for our customers and channel partners, giving them an expanded portfolio of server, storage and networking products and services that are already supported by LeftHand Networks' solutions," said Bill Chambers, LeftHand's CEO, in a statement. "The combination of LeftHand Networks' virtualization technologies with HP's has the power to significantly accelerate server consolidation projects by making the deployment of shared storage much easier and more cost-effective."

HP is looking to LeftHand to broaden its virtualization solutions in the midmarket with software that can run on both existing storage and industry-standard server hardware. The goal is to reduce training time and overall complexity by supporting existing environments. According to HP, LeftHand software and hardware offerings let companies move to a SAN for significantly lower cost, manage their data more easily and scale their storage infrastructures incrementally as their businesses grow. LeftHand also offers "intelligent cloning technology" that can reduce the amount of disk space required for storage by up to 97 percent in some virtualized environments, and its thin provisioning features can reduce power consumption by minimizing the overprovisioning of storage.

LeftHand also features data replication technology with bandwidth management and failover protection, functions that can ease data backup and disaster recovery between remote sites and corporate headquarters.

HP said in a statement that the acquisition will enable it to add midrange offerings to its existing suite of iSCSI solutions to target customers at the low end of the market. Solutions will include the HP StorageWorks All-in-One Storage System and HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array. On the high end, HP will offer the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array line.

In addition, HP said, LeftHand's solutions are already certified to work with certain HP products, including ProLiant servers, BladeSystem infrastructure, ProCurve Networking gear and Insight Control management software.

"Customers need a faster, less complex and more economical route to storage networking to better protect their critical business data," said Dave Roberson, HP's senior vice president and general manager, StorageWorks Division, in a statement. "The acquisition of LeftHand Networks significantly expands our storage portfolio, enabling HP to deliver customers an expanded suite of storage functionality, scalable capacity and interconnect options for every budget and performance requirement. With our strong channel and leading position in the industry-standard server market, we are ideally positioned to deliver this technology to customers worldwide."

The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2009. Once completed, LeftHand will be integrated into the HP StorageWorks division within HP's Technology Solutions Group.