Microsoft Spruces Up Storage Management -

Microsoft Spruces Up Storage Management

Microsoft is looking to extend its storage offerings further into the enterprise with a series of new features.

Microsoft on Monday unveiled a new feature pack that helps customers consolidate data from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 on network-attached storage (NAS) devices powered by Windows Storage Server 2003, a key component of the Windows Server System for enabling XML-driven Web services based on Microsoft .NET technology.

At the Storage Networking World Spring 2004 show in Phoenix, Ariz., the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant also announced steps to make the management of Fibre Channel storage and Microsoft Internet Small Computer System Interface (Microsoft iSCSI) storage area networks (SANs) in Windows easier.

Where the NAS feature pack is concerned, the company said in a statement that offering Windows Storage Server 2003 with support for Exchange Server 2003 will help customers boost return-on-investment by making it possible to consolidate files and data stored on Exchange Server 2003.

This will help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), or departments of larger companies, pare storage costs without taking the system down. The software will be available in a few months.

Recognizing that there is money to be made from businesses seeking enterprise-grade storage functionality on Windows software, Microsoft also announced new tools to enhance Windows Server 2003 when used as a host to a Fibre Channel SAN.

The Fibre Channel Information tool gathers component SAN information to give customers configuration data for multi-vendor environments. This tool will be available for download free of charge in May. Emulex , LSI Logic , and QLogic Corp. will be demonstrating the product in action at this week's SNW Spring 2004. Lastly, the giant concern is looking to take its iSCSI architecture up a notch in the enterprise by supporting it with Windows Server 2003 Datacenter edition. With support from several hardware partners, Microsoft iSCSI makes it possible for Windows customers to commit to block-based storage without having to invest in additional hardware.

The company will eventually chip in native iSCSI support for Microsoft Multipath I/O failover and load balancing between the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator and iSCSI target devices, which will be included in Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator version 2.0, available at the end of 2004.

Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing for storage at Microsoft, says the service pack and SAN management features come in response to customer demand to make their work easier.

Microsoft entered the enterprise storage market two years ago to get pieces of the NAS and SAN software pies that analysts see as so lucrative, particularly in light of government compliance regulations. Last year, to let customers use one console to manage their storage, the company announced the EMC NetWin 200 box, based on the code bases of Microsoft Windows and EMC's CLARiiON networked storage.

By offering software tailored to help Windows server environments store and access key information more smoothly, the company is sure to appeal to a broad set of customers already running applications such as Exchange.

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