Microsoft announced that Drive Extender will no longer be part of Small Business Server Essentials "Aurora," Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials "Breckenridge" and Windows Home Server "Vail."
Microsoft has decided to remove its Drive Extender storage technology from
the upcoming versions of Small Business Server Essentials, Windows Storage
Server 2008 R2 Essentials and Windows Home Server.
The decision was announced Nov. 23 on the Windows
Home Server blog by Michael Leworthy, a Microsoft product manager. Noting
that "large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced" and 2TB
drives are "becoming easily accessible to small businesses," the team
felt the Drive Extender technology "was not meeting our customer
needs," wrote Leworthy.
Extender technology provided the ability to take individual hard drives and
pool them together into a single volume. When adding a disk to the server,
administrators could select whether to add the new storage to the default
storage pool to increase total capacity or designate it as a backup drive.
Acknowledging that the decision meant there was no "integrated
ability" to pool storage or for automated data duplication, Microsoft will
"work closely" with OEM partners for an alternative product,
according to Leworthy. "This will provide customers with greater choice as
well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs," he
Critics alleged that quality hardware RAID solutions are expensive, and the
resulting product is more likely to be too complicated for the less technically
inclined while Drive Extender had simplified the entire process dramatically.
Windows Server 2008 R2 has built-in capabilities for data protection, and
"core features" such as automated server and PC backup, easy sharing
of folders and files, remote Web access, and simplified management are still
included, Leworthy wrote.
Home Server, code-named "Vail," Small
Business Server Essentials, code-named "Aurora,"
and Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, code-named "Breckenridge," are
all in beta
and are expected to be released in the first half of 2011. Leworthy said in the
blog post that the anticipated product launch date remains the same, with a new
beta without Drive Extender to be available early in the year.
The Drive Extender feature, while highly anticipated, has not been without
its share of controversy. In an earlier version from 2007, a serious bug caused
data corruption amongst some users. Despite Leworthy's claim that the change was
fueled by customer and tester feedback, the comments on the Windows Home Server
blog were negative, with customers angry that the "key feature/selling
point" was being removed.
Enthusiast site We Got Served called it a "shock
move," pointing out that the decision came almost eight months into the
public beta of the three platforms. Terry Walsh called Drive Extender "one
of Microsoft's most innovative engineering feats" on the site's blog.
Walsh noted that Microsoft had been slowly re-engineering Drive Extender,
limiting its potential and creating an "inherent weakness" over the
past two years. His implication was that these limitations and changes were the
reasons many beta testers criticized the technology, leading to Microsoft's
Kuretz, an integration and test engineer for HP's MediaSmart Server, was a
bit more blunt, writing on his blog, "It is saddening and frustrating to
have invested so much time and energy into a something that has such obvious
value and to then watch it slowly be dismantled into a nearly useless shell of
its former being."