Microsoft Delivers Beefier Network-Attached Storage - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Microsoft Delivers Beefier Network-Attached Storage

Storage Server 2003 lets customers make point-in-time copies of data for enhanced backup and recovery

While Microsoft has long dominated the desktop, it's still trying to penetrate the data center using a strategy that hinges on third parties: in many cases, it's hardware partners that allow Windows to scale to its highest levels.

Microsoft and its partners Wednesday took another significant step to realize greater scalability by shipping Windows Storage Server 2003. Partners already on board include Dell, EMC, and Hewlett-Packard.

The new version of Microsoft's NAS (network attached storage)-specific software could scale to more than 40 terabytes. Storage Server 2003 should let customers make point-in-time copies of data for enhanced backup and recovery. Unix file access performance should be improved by 50% to 200%, depending on the size of files and the hardware configuration.

Customers can also cluster eight Storage Server 2003 nodes together, easily manage such a cluster with Distributed File System support, and process many more queries at once, thanks to MPI/O (multipath input/output) support.

"The NAS market is poised for a lot of growth because customers are looking for low-cost ways to manage the infrastructure," said Charles Stevens, corporate VP of enterprise storage at Microsoft. "We see a lot of servers moving to NAS, and believe that 20% of existing servers are exclusively file servers."

An industry analyst said this is another sign of Microsoft's data-center ambitions. "It's not entry level anymore because of more features and power," said Nancy Marrone at Enterprise Storage Group. "It's not core data center, but HP has a system that scales to 24 terabytes, and that's not SMB [small and midsize businesses]."

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