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Q: How does the Enterprise Storage Division fit into Microsoft as a whole? The server group owns .NET (Windows 2003), which offers a number of new features focused on making it easier to use MFST platforms in a networked storage environment. How does the ES Division work with the groups that own this software?
The Enterprise Storage Division is a business division with the Server Group at Microsoft. We are very tightly linked with the Windows Server team and played a leading role in the development of new storage aspects of Windows Server 2003, such as Virtual Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk Service (VDS), Multi-Path I/O (MPIO) and iSCSI. We are connected and integrated with other groups, too. Cross-division integration is very important, and receives a lot of focus, at Microsoft.
Q: Analysts have said that Microsoft has done little in the way of fleshing out its strategy for ESD since announcing its intentions to enter the market. What is MSFT's strategy for becoming a major player in the storage market?
Microsoft has offered storage products for some time, such as the NT File System (NTFS) and the Distributed File System (DFS), as well as offering NAS capabilities with Windows Powered NAS. We have a clear track record in the market. Yes, there are many players in the storage industry, but the market opportunity is still tremendous. Customers are still looking for improved solutions to manage the explosion of data in the enterprise. What we are doing is extending the efforts we have already made and addressing the new problems we see. We think we have an opportunity to be of real value in the market. Market acceptance of our products and partner support is our goal.
Q: Outside of NAS, which has been a big success for the company, what areas will Microsoft be focusing on? Software management? Storage resource management? File systems? Where does Microsoft see the real growth potential?
Our division is actively focused on helping solve multiple challenges customers face in ensuring the availability of reliable data and generally lowering the costs and complexities of storage. That means we're focused on the full range of storage solutions, from a software perspective, including file systems, NAS, SAN, backup, continuous availability, near-line storage, and storage resource management In terms of growth, we expect to see continued growth in NAS. We also foresee real growth in the adoption of storage solutions by small to medium size companies. IP SANs supported by technologies like iSCSI will be a driving force behind that growth. We certainly see great growth potential in the international markets.
Q: Will you develop this software internally, or will you still be working with partners like VERITAS in the future? How is your relationship with VERITAS?
ESD will develop new software products and we will continue to work with a partner ecosystem. Much of what we are doing is providing an infrastructure for storage management. With that infrastructure in place, our partners can then build the value-add products on top of what we are providing. We think this presents a tremendous opportunity for our current partners and potential new partners moving forward. Particularly as storage management features of Windows Server 2003 are adopted, partners will be able to innovate more advanced capabilities. Already we have many of the major hardware and software vendors working with us in support of Windows Server 2003 APIs such as Virtual Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk Service (VDS), as well as Multi-Path I/O and iSCSI. VERITAS is a good partner and has announced support of Windows Server 2003 with its introduction of Backup Exec 9.0.