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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Preps Storage Server Launch

Microsoft Wednesday plans to unveil its widely-anticipated Windows Storage Server 2003 at the Storage Decisions 2003 conference in Chicago.

Sources familiar with the Redmond, Wash. software maker's plans said HP, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, IBM and others are supporting the launch of the company's new network-attached (NAS) storage product, which is a dedicated file server operating system geared to lower the cost of networked storage for customers.

NAS is hard disk storage that is set up with its own network address rather than being attached to the department computer that is serving applications to a network's workstation users.

Microsoft designed the product to be put in NAS machines from HP, EMC and the other systems vendors who make and sell storage systems. Network Appliance and EMC are generally considered the leaders in the NAS appliance market. These companies also make software for their devices, but Microsoft is offering a more cost-effective product for customers, analysts say.

Windows Storage Server 2003 features the ability to create "shadow" copies, iterations of data from a specific point in time, of a single volume or multiple volumes using the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) backup and recovery solution.

Other perks include Distributed File System (DFS), server clustering and Multipath Input/Output (I/O) technology. The software will also support the Windows Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) initiator, which allows IT managers to put a NAS device into an IP-based SAN.

The pairing of Microsoft's NAS software and OEMs' hardware has been popular since the software giant introduced its brand to the market more than a year ago. IDC said the user base for Windows-powered NAS appliance servers has increased to nearly 32 percent in just over a year and a half since they were launched, while Gartner placed the figure at 38 percent for 2002.

The product, previously called the Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) and based on the Windows Server 2003, operating system, was unveiled at Microsoft TechEd in June.

HP would not comment for this story, but sources said the Palo, Alto, Calif. vendor would be expanding its Windows-based NAS portfolio as well as strengthening its partnership with Microsoft at Storage Decisions 2003.