Storage Networking Show Puts SMBs in Spotlight

Vendors will highlight Fiber Channel storage area networks and management tools designed to suit small-and-medium sized businesses at Storage Networking World Spring 2004 in Phoenix.

Storage technology vendors will highlight products that are now within reach of small-and-medium sized businesses (SMBs)at Storage Networking World (SNW) Spring 2004 in Phoenix.

Prominently displayed at the show will be new storage devices and software for customers seeking improved integration, storage management and support for their increasingly heterogeneous storage environments.

Fiber Channel storage area networks (SANs) and management tools are finally reaching a level of maturity and price point that will appeal to the SMB audience, according to industry observers.

Storage vendors, such as Adaptec, are increasingly keeping SMBs in mind when they market new products.

Microsoft Corp. is pouncing on that trend on Monday at SNW by announcing network attached storage (NAS) support for Microsoft Exchange files and data in its new feature pack for Windows Storage Server 2003, part of Windows Storage System.

The feature pack will be available in the next few months, said officials of Redmond, Wash.–based Microsoft. Previously customers with sizeable Exchange deployments had the option of either creating a non-shared direct attached storage (DAS) environment or move to a costly SAN.

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.

Available at as a free download in May, the Fibre Channel Information Tool allows customers to gather information about their SAN environment to perform configuration and troubleshooting in a multi-vendor system.

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Storage Tracing Support within Windows Server 2003 unifies logging and tracing technologies across different 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 this year in third or four quarter.

At SNW Microsoft is digging deeper into its Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) SAN deployments on Windows as well by announcing iSCSI for Windows Server 2003 Data Center Edition. In addition, Microsoft said it is adding iSCSI support for Multipath I/O, giving users the ability to have Multipath failover across its Microsoft iSCSI Initiator V.2 product – shipping at the end of 2004 – and iSCSI targets.

It is critical for vendors such as Microsoft to sustain momentum and make SAN environments more easily accessible for SMBs, said Nancy Marrone-Hurley, an analyst with market research firm Enterprise Storage Group of Milford, Mass.

"SMBs have the same storage issues as enterprise customers, only on a different scale. The SMBs want to realize the benefits of SANs, but cant afford the costs associated with implementing SANs," such as the installation and on-going administration and management, Marrone-Hurley said.

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