Microsoft Debuts Storage Middleware

Company announces Volume Shadow Copy Service and Virtual Disk Service, plus storage partners for .Net Server 2003.

Microsoft Corp. Tuesday announced new storage management middleware and numerous storage hardware partners for its upcoming Windows .Net Server 2003 release.

The new software, Volume Shadow Copy Service and Virtual Disk Service, came to light earlier this year and were publicly discussed at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in April.

"The VSS is about data; the VDS is about disks," Jay Paulus, a lead product manager in the Redmond, Wash., companys Windows .Net Server group, said at the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

In essence, VSS is a driver that application developers can write to for conducting storage hardware snapshots, Paulus said. However, it wont be used for actual inter-array virtualization. VDS is similar middleware for Windows for translating between applications and actual disk commands, he said.

The initial partners supporting VSS and VDS are Adaptec Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Dell Computer Corp., EMC Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Ltd., IBM, LSI Logic Corp., NEC Corp., Storage Technology Corp., Unisys Corp. and Xiotech Corp.

Early next year, Microsoft will announce application, backup and management partners, Paulus said. The initial supported applications from Microsoft itself will be SQL Server, Exchange Server, Windows dynamic host configuration protocol, Active Server, Active Directory and Internet Information Server, he said.

The news is sound, said Bill North, a Mountain View, Calif., storage industry analyst for International Data Corp. "As a partner or as someone who wants to engage storage in a Microsoft world, you have to do a lot of code writing and development that is very vendor-specific," even though Windows is not the dominant operating system attached to enterprise storage today, he noted.

Microsoft also announced on Tuesday TimeWarp, a new feature of .Net Server 2003, accessed through Windows XP clients, that lets end users get their own backup files. "TimeWarp is the end-user feature that actually lets the end user recover files without having to call the IT guy. Its fundamentally a server that sits on top of these new technologies," Paulus said.

Microsoft hasnt yet decided whether or not it will support the evolving Common Information Model (CIM) and Bluefin storage management specifications. "We have no plans for making any public statement right now," Paulus said.