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Microsoft Locks Up OEM Support for NAS

Buoyed by support from key partners, Microsoft said Monday it has taken its feature pack for consolidating data from Exchange Server 2003 on network attached storage (NAS) devices running Windows Storage Server 2003 to general availability.

Original equipment manufacturers EMC , Dell and HP will be offering the feature pack on their NAS devices. The goal is to help customers boost return on investment by consolidating files and data stored on Exchange Server 2003.

Marcus Schmidt, senior project manager Windows Storage Server 2003 at Microsoft, said the pack will be offered on EMC NetWin, Dell PowerVault and HP StorageWorks NAS devices.

The pledge of support could give Microsoft a greater inroad into the NAS software market, where it competes with the likes of Network Appliance at the high end and Linux and open source vendors at the low end, Schmidt told internetnews.com.

"Plus, we have a really good set of independent software vendors (ISVs) coming out in support of this feature pack," Schmidt said. "Those include Computer Associates, Legato, VERITAS Software and Commvault."

Windows Storage Server 2003, a complete file server with features such as Volume Shadow Copy Service for single snapshot views of storage, is a key component of the Windows Server System for enabling XML-driven Web services based on Microsoft's .NET platform.

The feature pack was released to manufacturing at Storage Networking World Spring 2004 last month, and is geared to help small and medium-sized businesses, or departments of larger companies, pare storage costs without taking the system down.

"The big win here is for customers that have been asking us for this for quite some time," Schmidt said. "They want another option for their Exchange data that isn't just direct-attached storage or fibre channel SANs."

For example, the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania is using the feature pack to manage volumes of e-mail. Microsoft and HP offered the school the pack to the school. The staff ran a hundred thousand e-mail messages through their Exchange Server and now get them stored and retrieved off their Storage Server in about 10 minutes. The school now has 1,000 Exchange mailboxes storing data on Windows Storage Server.

Going forward, Schmidt said he and his staff are working on providing storage management capabilities for Windows Storage Server 2003.