Just finished reading Tony Asaro’s iSCSI – What Happens Next? post and the concept of VMware purchasing LeftHand Networks is an interesting one. Let’s review the current situation, EMC owns 90% of VMware, everyone willingly or reluctantly knows that VMware is crushing it in the marketplace and that the virtualization craze is truly one of those things in our industry that rolls around every 20 years. VMware’s business model, value prop, etc… precludes them from any and all affinities to a particular hardware vendor. This may seem interesting seeing how EMC owns 90% of the company but the reality is that while VMware was a phenomenal acquisition for EMC from both an access to intellectual property and share holder value perspective VMware continues to be a major a catalyst in the commoditization of the hardware market. EMC has been a major benefactor of slow commoditization in the enterprise storage hardware market for years (I should note that EMC is a very, very large software player but the hardware platform it still a critical component to the EMC business model), VMware threatens this space. Now if we look at LeftHand Networks who has morphed their business and aligned them selves with the virtualization movement. A purchase of a player such as LeftHand may allow VMware to develop an end-to-end agnostic solution that includes features that traditionally have been handled at the array level such as replication. I should also note that Celerra, Centera, CLARiiON, Avamar, etc…. the list goes on and on are nothing more that software running on a hardened platform, many of these have insatiable appetites for horsepower so it remains to be seen if they can successfully move to a hardware agnostic model, additionally support becomes increasingly difficult and QoS my suffer in favor of flexibility and cost. Is this the right model for everyone, probably not but in a large portion of the market where VMware is widely adopted this is a tradeoff most are willing to make. Why LeftHand vs. the others, well I think LeftHand has done a good job publicizing their virtual approach, the release of a LeftHand Virtual Appliance demonstrates a conscious alignment. Finally LeftHand is large enough to validate the technology but small enough to be blip on the radar of VMware’s hardware partners, in particular IBM and HP. The acquisition of LeftHand by and HP or IBM could potentially cause even bigger problems for EMC. If I were EMC I would look to either move the Celerra code to a virtual appliance quick or acquire someone, being first in this marker could be huge. Only time will tell what happens in this market but it should be interesting to watch.