Microsoft Envisions Storage Server 2004

Microsoft storage agenda for 2004 is to perfect its existing products through homegrown development and industry partnerships.

CHICAGO—Microsoft Corp.s storage agenda for 2004 is to perfect its existing products through homegrown development and industry partnerships, officials said here today.

"We… conceptually see a Storage Server 2004," said Bob Muglia, senior vice president, enterprise management and storage, in an interview following todays official launch of Windows Storage Server 2003, formerly known as Server Appliance Kit.

Besides the 2003 versions inclusion of management and backup features, along with improved security, the 2004 version will add storage network management, Muglia said. That will come largely through the assistance of leading switch vendors Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp., he said.

Storage Server 2004 will also expand its rollback features, so IT administrators can get back a whole Exchange inbox, for example, instead of just an individual file as in todays 2003 edition, he explained.

Another major 2004 upgrade is to fix Exchanges inability to run off of such network-attached storage at all. Not supporting that in Storage Server 2003 and the prior Server Appliance Kit version was a mistake, he acknowledged. "We need to fix this," he said.

Microsoft has no storage-related acquisition plans, he added, in his first interview for the Redmond, Wash., firms 18-month-old Enterprise Storage Group. Also, "Were not the company to focus on building broad SAN management tools that youre going to deploy in your data center. Its our classic line that we draw and that the marketplace draws for us," he said, at the Storage Decisions trade show here.

The division has just over 200 employees, three-quarters in Redmond and one-quarter in India, he said. Overall, "Its still in investment mode," he said. Microsoft next year will also begin to talk about other storage products, he said.

"Theyve been working on some of their own data management and lifecycle management stuff," which can get into application-aware management, added Randy Kerns, an analyst with Evaluator Group Inc., of Greenwood Village, Colo. But, "I think its going to take a while, and its going to be very slow to roll out," he said.

Eddie Puente, a storage administrator at human resources consultancy Hewitt Associates LLC, Lincolnshire, Ill., said hes concerned that other storage vendors wont want to interoperate with Microsoft. "I think they extend their claws a little too much already," he said. Hewitt runs 130 terabytes of storage from EMC Corp. and Network Appliance Inc., backed up with IBMs Tivoli Storage Manager. Microsoft should focus more on interface improvements and storage-specific security, he said.