HPOver the past few years, iSCSI has seen a slow transition from a maverick (thank you Sarah Palin and Tina Fey for keeping this word at the top of my brain) low-cost offering for block level storage into a mainstream solution. The maturity of this offering has met or exceeded all expectations. Dell’s purchase of EqualLogic last year was a clear signal that iSCSI is becoming a major player in the storage game. The simple fact that the Dell|EqualLogic line is their fastest growing storage solution, and Dell is putting the full weight of their marketing arm behind the product shows the versatility that iSCSI offers. Being the only major player with a custom iSCSI solution gave Dell a distinct advantage over the competition.

With the acquisition of Lefthand Networks by HP last week, the gauntlet was thrown down. Dell had a year’s head start, but there will now be some competition in the marketplace. HP was well placed in the FC market, with their MSA and EVA products, but were missing the iSCSI boat. Let’s be honest, the MS Unified Storage Server is NOT a viable solution. Lefthand fits nicely into their product line, and will be supported well by HP’s storage engineering team. In the first two quarters, there will most likely be a bit of a marketing blitz, and look to see some competitive pricing as well. After that, it will be interesting to see how it integrates into the rest of HP’s product line.

Meanwhile, I don’t expect that the Dell|EqualLogic team will be sitting on their laurels. Look for improvements to the feature set over the coming months to differentiate their product from Lefthand.