Microsoft Stakes Out String Beans iSCSI Storage

The company expands its storage business by acquiring String Bean's WinTarget and deepening its ILM partnership with EMC.

Microsoft breathed new life into its growing storage business on March 3, announcing the acquisition of WinTarget and iSCSI-based software technology assets from String Bean Software, and solidifying its push into information lifecycle management through an expanded partnership with EMC.

Financial terms of Microsofts agreement to purchase WinTarget from privately held String Bean Software, based in Montgomery Village, Md., have not been released.

As part of the agreement Microsoft acquired only the technical assets of String Bean and none of its OEM contracts or customer base, said Claude Lorenson, group product manager for Storage, Windows Server Division, for Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash.

Lorenson said the WinTarget iSCSI SAN (storage area network) technology will be incorporated into the Microsoft Windows Storage Server R2 product line as an add-on feature by mid-2006.

Since it is an OEM product only, the iSCSI technology will not be released as a stand-alone software offering from Microsoft. Instead, it will be packaged with Windows Storage Server R2 from Microsofts channel partners to provide block and file storage for SMB (small and midsize business) and midrange customers as a hybrid device.

"The reason we went with iSCSI is we felt that we have an obligation to simplify storage for our users," said Lorenson, noting that Microsoft already has released a native iSCSI initiator driver and plans to augment the WinTarget technology with added management capabilities.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about String Bean Software.

"If you look at iSCSI offerings until very recently, there was nothing that was targeted at the midmarket and lower market. Most of the products were fairly expensive. Now you have more prices within a bigger range, and you also have 10 Gigabit Ethernet coming by the end of the year, which will be important for better performance," Lorenson said.

Capable of transporting SCSI over IP networks with less drag on performance when communicating to storage devices, iSCSI provides simplified support and transparency of e-mail, database and gateway applications.

However, despite its lower-cost appeal over Fibre Channel connectivity, the iSCSI protocol has been slow to reach the adoption rates over the last year to 18 months predicted by many analysts and storage vendors.

/zimages/4/28571.gifHow does iSCSI stack up against Fibre Channel? Read about eWEEK Labs tests here.

On the partner front, Microsoft and EMC on March 3 unveiled an expansion of the companies alliance geared toward pushing ILM deeper into Windows-centric environments.

On the heels of an announcement in January where EMC added more meat to its professional services arm, Microsoft Practice within Technology Solutions, the revitalized partnership will specifically focus on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server 2003 Enterprise Edition.

Specifically, the integrated offerings portfolio will follow a framework that includes simplified Exchange Upgrade and Deployment characteristics for Microsofts messaging and database platforms, according to officials of EMC, based in Hopkinton, Mass. That process is set to involve design, assessment, and implementation services that also include attention to Lotus Notes to Exchange Migration operations.

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