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8/2/2006
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Microsoft Brings Storage Server OS To Custom System Builders

A Microsoft spokesman says it's easier to make it more broadly available with the release of Longhorn.

Microsoft is planning to bring its Windows Storage Server operating system, currently available only to OEMs, to a wider range of custom-system builders as its Longhorn version of Windows becomes available.

Claude Lorenson, group product manager for storage at Microsoft, would not say when such a move—which the Redmond, Wash.-based company has been considering for a couple of years—would take place. However, he said Microsoft is looking to make such a version available in conjunction with the upcoming release of its Longhorn technology.

"It's easier to do a broader availability with the release of Longhorn," Lorenson said. "We can do changes to the kernel that we can't do now. The release of an operating system for OEMs is quite different than releasing to the channel because of security concerns, including piracy issues. How to deploy? What kind of key do we make available?"

Lorenson said others are also interested in a broader release of the storage operating system. "Many end users would like to have it with general distribution or volume licensing," he said.

System builders welcome the move. "Anytime that we get access to some of the other technology exclusively allocated to competitors, that's good news," said Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, Fremont, Calif. "The biggest problem with companies like Microsoft or others is not the price, [it's] not giving us the same access as the competition."

Microsoft also has released an addition to the storage OS to allow the building of storage appliances with both NAS and iSCSI SAN capabilities.

The company's new iSCSI Software Target Application Pack for its Windows Storage Server 2003 Release 2 is based on iSCSI target technology Microsoft acquired from String Bean Software in March. Building a SAN based on iSCSI requires that the host server has an iSCSI initiator for sending data and that the storage device has an iSCSI target for receiving the data.

With the iSCSI target, Microsoft plans to make it possible for OEMs, and possibly custom-system builders at some point, to use its Windows Storage Server 2003 to build hybrid storage appliances that can be used for file (NAS) or block (iSCSI) applications.

Going forward, Lorenson said he expects Microsoft to release a new SKU of its Windows Storage Server OS next quarter that includes the iSCSI target software.

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