Intransa licenses management software

IP SAN vendor Intransa has decided to license its software in the hope of forging a new revenue stream.

Intransa, a vendor of equipment for Internet Protocol-based storage area networks (IP SANs), has decided to license its management software to third parties, according to an Intransa executive.

The company will license its software, called StorControl, to storage system integrators and vendors of networking devices such as switches, Avi Katz, president and chief executive officer of Intransa, in said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

The new strategy is designed to help Intransa build a new software revenue stream on top of its current business of selling IP SAN systems, Katz said.

Intransa's IP SAN systems currently ship with StorControl running on servers from IBM disk enclosures from the U.K.'s Xyratex, and off-the-shelf Gigabit Ethernet switches. " We are basically reselling the hardware," Katz said.

In line with its new software licensing strategy, Intransa signed a licensing agreement last month with HCL Infosystems Ltd., an IT company in Noida, near Delhi, which allows HCL to deliver its own branded IP SAN systems to customers, with StorControl running on HCL servers as a storage controller. StorControl runs on Intel-based servers running the Linux operating system.

Intransa will announce a similar tie-up this month with an undisclosed Chinese OEM (original equipment manufacturer) that is likely to integrate the software with a variety of networking equipment, Katz said.

Licensees will sell the IP SAN systems under their own brands, except for a "Powered by Intransa" logo on the systems, according to Katz.

"Intransa's mission is to become the dominant supplier of software solutions to manage storage area networks over the IP," Katz said. "We will tie up with OEMs that are leaders in networking equipment, such as server manufacturers, switch manufacturers and so forth."

By adding StorControl to a switch, a manufacturer can configure the switch to also work as an IP SAN controller, Katz added.

StorControl is a Java-based management application for reducing the complexity of storage management. The software includes a volume manager for managing and configuring iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) devices, as well as the ability to integrate third-party "snapshot" services.

Intransa uses a networking approach to managing storage, so that devices can be managed from any point in an IP network, Katz said. Intransa's differentiator is that it has moved the storage management from being hardware-bound to being in software that can sit on any industry-standard hardware.

The decision to unbundle its management software from its systems business was taken about six months ago, according to Katz. The company expects licensing revenue to account for about half of all revenue by 2007, he said.

Intransa may also license the software to some of its competitors in the storage business, according to Katz, who added that some features of StorControl, such as clustering and scalability, would be attractive to other vendors.

The tricky part is the risk associated with effectively handing some system revenue to other storage vendors in order to get license fees, Katz said. Intransa will evaluate its licensing strategy on a case by case basis, and license to a competitor when, for example, the revenue potential from licensing is higher than the systems sales for a particular application or market.

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