Microsoft Augments SMB Storage Options

Enhancements for network-attached storage and storage area networks are on the way, with the aim of bringing high-end management within reach of small and midsize businesses.

Microsoft Corp. is following the lead of others in the storage industry by enhancing its Windows Storage System software with capabilities designed to bring high-end management within reach of small and midsize businesses.

At the Storage Networking World conference in Phoenix last week, Microsoft announced that it is adding NAS (network-attached storage) support for Microsoft Exchange files and data in its new feature pack for Windows Storage Server 2003, part of Windows Server.

The feature pack will be available in the next few months, said Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash. Previously, customers with sizable Exchange deployments had the option of either creating a nonshared direct-attached storage environment or moving to a costly SAN (storage area network).

Microsoft also announced its Fibre Channel Information Tool and storage-tracing support designed to bolster Windows Server 2003 when the platform is used as a host to a Fibre Channel SAN. The software, which will be available as a free download next month, allows customers to gather information about their SAN environment to perform configuration and troubleshooting in a multivendor system.

Storage vendors strengthen offerings
Other products introduced at SNW

Vendor Products
Snap Appliance Inc.

Snap Server 15000, a new scalable block and file storage offering; GuardianOS 3.0, a software platform featuring iSCSI support for IP SANs

StorServer Inc.

StorServer Lifecycle Management Appliance with repository and data retention capabilities

Advanced Digital
Information Corp.

StorNext Management Suite 2.3, which streamlines migration of data between AID arrays and Serial ATA disks

Storage-tracing support within Windows Server 2003 unifies logging and tracing technologies across storage drivers on a SAN. Microsoft officials said the feature will be available as part of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003, due for release in the third or fourth quarter.

At SNW, Microsoft also announced its iSCSI (Internet SCSI) for Windows Server 2003 Data Center Edition. In addition, Microsoft said it is adding iSCSI support for Multipath I/O, enabling users to have multipath failover across its Microsoft iSCSI Initiator product, which is due at years end, and iSCSI targets.

Even smaller companies have heterogeneous storage environments that can be complex to manage.

"We have an SAN; we have some aspects for what a large company would [run] ... however, we are still bound by staffing constraints so we tend to keep it simple," said David Kadow, director of infrastructure for New York-based CDIC IXIS Capital Markets North America Inc. "We try to not ... mix vendors we dont need to."

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